April 15, 2019 - Professor Neel Sukhatme Named Thomas Edison Visiting Scholar at U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

Georgetown Law professor and Tech Institute Faculty Advisor Neel Sukhatme was named the Thomas Alva Edison Distinguished Scholar at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today.

The Edison Distinguished Scholars are senior scholars and experts in law, economics, and related fields. They are invited to the Patent & Trademark Office to pursue their research on a wide range of topics related to IP and IP policy. They also advise policy makers on matters close to their areas of expertise. Georgetown Law professor Jay Thomas served as the inaugural Edison Scholar in 2012.

Professor Sukhatme is an Associate Professor at the Law School, where he teaches classes on patent law and empirical methods. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University, where he was awarded the 2014 Towbes Prize for Outstanding Teaching, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. Professor Sukhatme received his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from the University of Illinois.

Professor Sukhatme’s research focuses on empirical patent law and law and economics. He teaches Property, Patent Law, Corporate Finance, and Empirical Analysis for Lawyers and Policymakers, and he co-directs the Georgetown Law and Economics Workshop series.

Some of his forthcoming and recent work includes:

  • Neel U. Sukhatme & Son Le, Reaching for Mediocrity: Competition and Stagnation in Pharmaceutical Innovation (working paper) [Gtown Law]

  • Neel U. Sukhatme & M. Gregg Bloche, Health Care Costs and the Arc of Innovation, 104 Minn. L. Rev. (forthcoming) [Gtown Law]

  • Neel U. Sukhatme & Ofer Eldar, Will Delaware Be Different? An Empirical Study of TC Heartland and the Shift to Defendant Choice of Venue, 104 Cornell L. Rev. 101-163 (2018).

    [WWW]

  • Neel U. Sukhatme & Erik Hovenkamp, Vertical Mergers and the MFN Thicket in Television, Antitrust Chron., Aug. 2018, at 1-8. [WWW]

  • Neel U. Sukhatme, "Loser Pays" in Patent Examination, 54 Hous. L. Rev. 165-208 (2016). [WWW]

  • Neel U. Sukhatme, Regulatory Monopoly and Differential Pricing in the Market for Patents, 71 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1855-1922 (2014). [WWW]

Congratulations Neel!

April 9-10, 2019 - Georgetown Law Professors Testify at FTC Hearing on Consumer Privacy

Four Georgetown Law faculty will testify this week at the FTC’s hearings on approaches to consumer privacy. Associate Dean Paul Ohm, Professor David Vladeck, the Privacy Center’s Executive Director Laura Moy and Adjunct Professor Marc Groman join a mix of consumer advocates, academics, industry voices and other experts in a two-day hearing, part of the FTC’s series of hearings on Protecting Consumers and Competition in the 21st Century.

In the day’s opening panel, Associate Dean Paul Ohm joined Neil Chilson, former FTC Chief Technology Officer, and Alistair Mactaggart, chairman of Californians for Consumer Privacy, to discuss the goals of privacy protection. In his remarks, Ohm challenged the FTC to think about the harms it is positioned to address — not just those it has historically addressed. He predicted an increasing need for the agency and other enforcers to focus on “dark patterns”, tricks used to manipulate users into clicking buttons or selecting options they wouldn’t otherwise choose. Bipartisan legislation on dark patterns was introduced by Senator Mark Warner and Deb Fischer today.

Ohm also referenced his prior calls for regulation that adjusts based on the scale of various companies, noting that companies with millions of customers should be held to higher standards than those with a small user base. Ohm wrote about that theory in the Georgetown Law Technology Review 2018 Symposium issue, available here.

Later in the day, the Privacy Center’s Laura Moy joined a panel focused on current approaches to privacy protection. The panel noted the benefits and drawbacks of various privacy frameworks, with Moy noting that traditional focus on individual harms fail to account for societal harms, including discriminatory advertising, amplification of hate speech, misinformation and disinformation. Referencing current discussions about federal privacy legislation, she emphasized that a strong patchwork of state laws will better protect consumers than a weak federal standard.

The hearings continue tomorrow, with Georgetown professor David Vladeck, former head of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and adjunct professor Marc Groman, former head of privacy in the Office of Management Budget joining a full line-up. The livestream is available at https://competition-consumer-protection-hearings.videoshowcase.net/.

Good coverage of the hearings is available on Twitter at #ftchearings.

The FTC’s James Cooper, former FTC Chief Technology Officer Neil Chilson, Alastair Mactaggart and Georgetown’s Paul Ohm speak at the FTC’s hearing on consumer privacy

The FTC’s James Cooper, former FTC Chief Technology Officer Neil Chilson, Alastair Mactaggart and Georgetown’s Paul Ohm speak at the FTC’s hearing on consumer privacy

April 4, 2019 - Senator Ed Markey, FTC and FCC Commissioners Headline Event with Common Sense Media on Children in the Digital Age

This week, the Institute is partnering with Common Sense Media and Georgetown’s Children’s Digital Media Center on a conference about the present and future state of children’s digital well-being.

Among other speakers, the conference features Senator Ed Markey, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and co-founder of March for Our Lives.

Georgetown Law’s David Vladeck and Angela Campbell will speak on panels about children’s privacy and competition policy, respectively. Mr Kasky will discuss the power of technology to mobilize a movement, drawing on his experience organizing the 2018 March for Our Lives, a student-led demonstration in support of stronger gun protection measures, with almost 900 partner demonstrations across the United States and around the world.

If you missed the event in person, a recording of the event will soon be available here.

Truth About Tech: Solutions for Digital Well-Being

April 4, 2019

9am - 5pm

Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, 640 Mass Ave NW

  • 9:15 a.m.: Welcome 

  • 9:30–10 a.m.: Opening Remarks

    • Hon. Ed Markey, U.S. senator of Massachusetts

  • 10–10:45 a.m.: Staying Connected: Tech and Social Relationships

    • Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th surgeon general of the United States

    •  in conversation with James P. Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense

  • 10:45–11 a.m.: Break

  • 11–11:15 a.m.: Enforcing COPPA: Are We Protecting Kids' Privacy?

    • Rohit Chopra, FTC commissioner

  • 11:15–12 p.m.: You Are the Product: The High Cost of a Free Internet

    • Franklin Foer, The Atlantic

    • Nicol Turner-Lee, Brookings Institution

    • David Vladeck, Georgetown University Law Center

    • Cecilia Kang, New York Times (moderator)

  • 12–12:45 p.m.: Lunch

  • 12:45–1:10 p.m.: Holding Tech Accountable

    • Hon. Karl Racine, Attorney General of Washington, D.C.

  • 1:10–1:45 p.m.: Building Movements: Mobilizing the Power of Tech

    • Cameron Kasky, co-founder, March for Our Lives

    • in conversation with Elizabeth Galicia, Common Sense

  • 1:45–2:30 p.m.: Future Tech: Raising Kids in the AI Age

    • Jakki Bailey, University of Texas

    • Sandra Calvert, Georgetown University

    • Justine Cassell, Carnegie Mellon University

    • Michael Robb, Common Sense (moderator)

  • 2:30–2:45 p.m.: Break

  • 2:45–3:30 p.m.: Trust & Tech: Disrupting Monopolies

    • Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners

    • Barry Lynn, Open Markets Institute 

    • Angela Campbell, Georgetown University Law Center (moderator)

  • 3:30–3:45 p.m.: Closing the Homework Gap

    • Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC commissioner

  • 3:45–4:30 p.m.: Digital Equity: Ensuring Access and the Making of Digital Citizens

    • Rachel Barr, Georgetown University

    • Lisa Guernsey, New America

    • Tina Plaza-Whoriskey, Child Trends

    • Amina Fazlullah, Common Sense (moderator)

  • 5:00 p.m.: Closing

Schedule subject to change.


March 25, 2019 - Institute Hosts Event on Algorithmic Bias & the Digital Divide

On Monday, the Tech Institute hosted a panel event on Algorithmic Exclusion: How Data Deserts in the U.S. Perpetuate Inequity. The event drew an important connection between the lack of connectivity for marginalized communities in rural and low income areas, and increasing concerns about bias in the algorithms that impact so many aspects of our lives.

Lack of connectivity hurts students trying to do their homework, jobseekers looking for work, and communities engaging in online discourse. But what about its impact on the fairness & equity of AI?

The digital divide dramatically exacerbates inequity in our society: nearly half of all people in the U.S. without home internet access are people of color. Six in 10 rural residents say high speed internet access is a problem in their area.

At a time when algorithms shape every facet of our lives—from how government resources are allocated, to the products and information you see online—disparities in online access risk perpetuating exclusion for communities of color, low-income communities and rural America.

Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) gave remarks at the event, emphasizing that bridging the digital divide should be a issue of national priority. The panelists included a mix of consumer advocates, industry representatives and data scientists.

Thanks to our partners Public Knowledge and The Goodfriend Group for collaborating with us on this event. You can view the video and full details at www.georgetowntech.org/datadeserts.


March 13, 2019 - Institute Fellow Richard Whitt Collaborates on Transatlantic Content Moderation Working Group

Institute Fellow Richard Whitt has been busy, on both sides of the Atlantic.  This past week, in Austin, Texas, he led a SXSW session entitled “Want to Fix the Web?  Equip the Users.” On March 4th, he led a workshop at Georgetown Law on his GLIAnet Project to build a more trustworthy and accountable Web.

And the prior weekend, Whitt was at historic Ditchley Park, outside London, to participate in the inaugural session of the Transatlantic High-Level Working Group on Content Moderation and Freedom of Expression.  Organized and directed by former FCC Commissioner Susan Ness, Distinguished Fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, the Working Group includes European and North American members with backgrounds in government, civil society, and industry.

Meeting from February 28th to March 3rd, the Working Group engaged in four days of intense dialogue centered on establishing best practices and recommendations to assist governments, tech companies and civil society in addressing illegal and harmful online content.  The key challenge, all participants acknowledged, is to protect the core principle of freedom of expression, even as governments and industries strive to reduce hate speech and disinformation.

The Working Group aims to ensure that policymakers in this space fully consider transatlantic perspectives, freedom of expression, and the due process of law.  Whitt contributed to the conversation as a strategic advisor, emphasizing the need to utilize systems thinking and design approaches that support functionally-robust analyses and solutions.

Key areas of agreement among the participants included:

  • Freedom of expression is a core value that needs protection by governments, the public, and industry.

  • Problems should be addressed in the most specific and concrete fashion, with an evidence-based approach to both problem definition and applied solutions.

  • Transparency by both governments and industry is an important enabler, to more accurately assess the necessity and character of government response.

  • Approaches should consider rights and obligations of all parties in the ecosystem — governments and users as well as platforms — and be sensitive to capacity differences among the players in all three groups. For example, over-regulation can have the unintended consequence of reducing opportunities for smaller players who have fewer resources to comply.

The Working Group will have a second meeting in May 2019, where it will focus on disinformation and on finding shared conclusions and recommendations. In the upcoming months it will present its discussions and preliminary findings, as well as receive feedback from stakeholders, at various round table meetings and other events in Europe and the US.

You read more about the Transatlantic Working Group project here.

March 12, 2019 - Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee on Sprint-TMobile Merger

Our Distinguished Fellow Gigi Sohn testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in opposition to the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, which is currently undergoing regulatory review. In her remarks, Gigi raised significant concerns about the merger, including its impact on rural and low-income communities.

“T-Mobile and Sprint have promoted themselves as low-cost providers and currently offer the cheapest data plans of the 4 nationwide mobile wireless carriers”, she testified. “As such, T-Mobile and Sprint have competed vigorously with each other, to the benefit of the “value consumer” seeking better rates and service plans. Just as important, the competition between Sprint and T-Mobile has had a moderating effect on AT&T and Verizon, forcing them to respond with lower prices and more attractive service options. All of this competition has benefitted consumers.”

“The merging parties don’t dispute that prices will go up, but argue instead without proof that the improvements to the quality of their service, no matter how minimal, will be worth the significant extra cost. That is a dicey proposition for the value and low-income consumers that are most attracted to T-Mobile and Sprint because of their less expensive postpaid and their innovative prepaid service.'“

“These higher prices will have a disproportionate effect on customers of prepaid service, who tend to be low income customers and people of color.

Sohn’s testimony also countered the companies’ arguments that the merger is necessary for the U.S. to compete in the deployment of 5G, particularly in rural areas. She stated:

“T-Mobile’s owned LTE facilities currently serve 83.1% of the rural US population, while Sprint serves just 56.2%. So, adding Sprint to the New T-Mobile adds nothing to T-Mobile’s current rural coverage.

“Finally, and perhaps most important, the merging parties [also] understate the challenges and costs of bringing 5G connectivity to rural areas. In places where population density is low and the challenges of steep terrain and thick fauna are high, deployment is both a technological challenge and expensive and revenues are hard to come by. Moreover, the high speed “special access” lines needed to bring 5G connectivity to rural America are also expensive and largely in the control of 3 companies –AT&T, Verizon and Century Link. . . Policymakers should be extremely wary of any promise to bring 5G to significant parts rural America in the absence of significant subsidies any time soon, if ever.”

You can read Sohn’s full written testimony here, and watch a recording of the hearing here.

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March 6, 2019 - Fellow Deloris Wilson Speaks About Emerging Technology & Communities of Color at Dorothy Vaughan Symposium on Capitol Hill

Our Fellow Deloris Wilson today gave opening remarks on Capitol Hill at the Dorothy Vaughan Tech Symposium organized by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

The symposium brought together leading experts to talk about the impact of emerging technologies on black women and other marginalized communities - in particular, the threat of “deep fakes”, computer-generated graphics that can be used to falsify images, audio and video, and can easily be deployed as weapons of harassment.

Moderated by Mutale Nkonde of Data & Society, the symposium’s panel discussion featured Dr. Safiya Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Joan Donovan, Director of the Technology & Social Change Project at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, Dr. Brandeis Marshall, Former Department Chair and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Spelman College, and Dr. Mary Ann Franks, Legislative & Tech Policy Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

The speakers highlighted examples ranging from the use of fake social media accounts to suppress the African American vote by targeting supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, to the use of deep fakes in pornographic settings to devastate the lives of women, including women of color. Panelists noted that historically underrepresented groups can be targets for disinformation due to their perceived inability to “push back” against online harassment. They also noted how biases embedded in training data for algorithms, the underrepresentation of marginalized communities online, the systemic privilege embedded in search algorithms and other online systems perpetuate bias and inequality. Panelists also engaged on the need for stronger, national legal protections to address the problems of deep fakes, to protect women from harassment and avoid a patchwork of state solutions and jurisdictional fights.

Rep. Clarke spoke at the event and stayed for its duration, engaging in meaningful Q&A with the audience after formal remarks.

You can read Deloris’s full remarks here.

March 5, 2019 - Institute's Congressional Briefing on Sprint-TMobile Merger Spotlights Tough Questions on Wireless Competition & Future of 5G

The Institute today hosted a packed briefing for Congressional staff, press and members of the public on the proposed $26 billion Sprint-TMobile merger, which is currently undergoing regulatory review.

The briefing brought together two former FCC Commissioners, Mignon Clyburn and Robert McDowell, representatives for the merging companies, and opponents of the deal for a rigorous conversation moderated by Institute Director Alexandra Givens.

Commissioner McDowell, now a partner at Cooley LLP advising the merging parties, faced off in a 25-minute debate with David Goodfriend, counsel to Dish Network and Communications Network of America, which both oppose the deal.

A subsequent panel featured Commissioner Clyburn (now advising T-Mobile), Seth Bloom of Bloom Strategic Counsel (counsel to Sprint), Yosef Getachew of Common Cause and Ben Moncrief of C Spire, a regional wireless provider. The latter two organizations both oppose the deal.

The conversation covered the merger’s potential benefits for expanding 5G coverage in the United States, which Sprint and T-Mobile claim will advance exponentially if the merger goes ahead. Opponents challenged whether the merger would actually lead to those touted benefits, noting that Sprint’s mid-band spectrum assets would not advance T-Mobile’s strength in rural areas, where low-band spectrum is required.

Opponents also raised concerns about several different ways the merger would reduce competition—an argument Sprint and T-Mobile countered by saying the merger was needed for both entities to compete with behemoths Verizon and AT&T. Emphasizing the potential impact on low-income communities, Yosef Getachew of Common Cause noted the merger’s effects for pre-paid mobile services, as Sprint’s Boost Mobile and T-Mobile’s MetroPCS would come under single ownership. Ben Moncrief of C Spire likewise noted the potential impact on regional carriers and Mobile Virtual Network Operators, which rely on wholesale contracts with the four major nationwide wireless carriers to deliver service to their customers. Countering these points, Sprint and T-Mobile argued that the merger’s synergies would cause 5G coverage to expand so greatly that the New T-Mobile would have every incentive to enter into wholesale agreements and keep prices low.

The briefing came as the House Judiciary Committee announced a hearing on the deal, scheduled for March 12. The House Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing late last month.

Our Distinguished Fellow Gigi Sohn will testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing next week. Follow us on Twitter @GtownTechLaw for future updates.

(From L): Institute Director Alexandra Givens, Seth Bloom, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Ben Moncrief & Yosef Getachew during Tuesday’s panel

(From L): Institute Director Alexandra Givens, Seth Bloom, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Ben Moncrief & Yosef Getachew during Tuesday’s panel

March 4, 2019 - Institute Hosts Workshop on GLIANet: Building A Trustworthy Open Web

The Institute today hosted a workshop for an innovative proposal being developed by our Senior Fellow Richard Whitt to rebuild trust on the web. His proposal, GLIAnet, advocates for a new model of “trusted intermediaries” — entities that would essentially act as digital go-betweens between users and the web.

The GLIANet model seeks to restore user agency, trust, and competition in the online ecosystem, as users voluntarily choose to share portions of their data with trustworthy entities, which then engage on the web on their behalf. These trusted intermediaries would employ a host of emerging technology tools—such as data lifestreams, personal AI avatars, localized cloudlets, and sovereign identity personas—to promote the interests of their clients. 

Perhaps most interestingly, the model leverages a market-based solution, while contemplating an important backstop role for regulation and public policy.

 Richard’s work has been covered in FastCompany’s “World Changing Ideas” column, and he has presented the GLIANet project at MozFest and Silicon Flatirons. The workshop brought together policy folks, academics, potential industry partners and more to discuss the idea and potential pathways forward.

You can read Richard’s paper describing the GLIANet vision here, and subscribe for updates at https://glia.net.

Glianet.jpg

March 1, 2019 - CRISPR Gene Editing Takes Center Stage at Event Hosted by Tech Institute & O'Neill Institute for Public Health

We were thrilled to host a discussion today between two leading experts on CRISPR gene editing. Professor Debra Mathews of the Berman Institute for Bioethics at Johns Hopkins joined Professor Jake Sherkow of New York Law School for a rich discussion about the policy questions and legal landscape surrounding this potent new biotechnology.

Dr. Mathews’s academic work focuses on ethics and policy issues raised by emerging biotechnologies, with particular focus on genetics, stem cell science, neuroscience and synthetic biology. With other colleagues, Dr Matthews is the author of CRISPR: A path through the thicket, a paper in Nature that discusses the ethical questions of genome editing and present recommended actions for continued research.

Jake Sherkow is a Professor of Law at the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School, where he teaches a variety of courses related to intellectual property. His research focuses on how scientific developments, especially in the biosciences, affect patent law and litigation. Prof. Sherkow is the author of over 30 articles on these and related topics in both scientific journals and traditional law reviews, including Science, Nature, and the Yale Law Journal and the Stanford Law Review online.

Both speakers generously agreed to let us share their slides from the event.

Dr. Mathews’s presentation, Human Genome Editing, Ethics & Policy, is available here.

Prof. Sherkow’s presentation, CRISPR, Patents and the Public Health, is available here.

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March 1, 2019 - Tech Institute Welcomes Adjunct Prof. Mark MacCarthy as a Senior Fellow

The Tech Institute is thrilled to welcome Georgetown adjunct faculty member Mark MacCarthy as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow. Mark teaches courses in Georgetown’s Communications, Culture & Technology Program on tech policy, governance of emerging technologies and competition policy in tech industries, as well as courses on privacy and philosophy and ethical challenges of AI in the Philosophy Department. He is also a Faculty Affiliate of the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy

Mark was previously Senior Vice President of public policy for the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), where he directed initiatives and advised member companies on technology policy, privacy, AI and ethics, content moderation and competition policy in tech. 

His published research is available at SSRN and commentaries can be found at CIO Online and at Forbes.

We’re glad to have Mark as part of the team. Welcome!

February 28, 2019 - Georgetown Launches New $55 million Center on Security & Emerging Technology

Big news for our tech policy efforts across Georgetown University: a $55 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project is creating the largest center in the United States focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and policy at Georgetown.

The Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), to be housed at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS), will deliver nonpartisan analysis and advice to the U.S. and international policy and academic community on AI and other emerging technologies.

The Center will be run by Jason Matheny, former Director of IARPA, responsible for the development of breakthrough technologies for the U.S. intelligence community. He is a member of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, created in 2018, and co-chaired the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Task Force on AI, which authored the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan released by the White House in 2016.

Technology & International Security

A key focus of CSET will be the ethical implications of the technological transformations in international security, drawing upon Georgetown’s considerable resources in this area.

 Themes and questions they plan to address include:

  • National competitiveness, assessing how countries compare across different areas of AI development.

  • Talent and knowledge flows, including trade and immigration policies, and policies governing the exchange of information. 

  • Relationships with other technologies, assessing AI’s impact on existing weapons technologies and other systems . 

Georgetown was chosen to host the center over a number of other top 25 universities, reflecting its pivotal role in the D.C. policy community and its strong commitment to engaging the ethical dimensions of contemporary policy challenges.

Technology & Society

CSET will become a key component of the university’s new Initiative in Technology and Society, bringing together research and teaching across Georgetown that focus on creating better and more ethical policies and uses for new technologies with an eye to better societal outcomes.

The Law Center and the Institute are playing a central role guiding that growth, in partnership with the university’s Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, Massive Data Institute, Ethics Lab, and other centers.

Read the official CSET announcement here, and great coverage in The Washington Post here.

February 25, 2019 - Institute Publishes Workshop Report on the Political Economy of Data

The Institute today is publishing a report from its December 2018 workshop on the Political Economy of Data. The workshop, cohosted by the Tech Institute and the Digital Life Initiative at Cornell Tech, was convened by leading scholars Julie Cohen of Georgetown Law and Helen Nissenbaum of Cornell Tech.

The workshop brought together 35 scholars and practitioners to consider regulatory and governance issues relating to data holdings and access to data in the networked, platform-based information environment. Participants included experts in data use and governance, data privacy and protection, competition, and intellectual property law, among them practitioners from major companies, lawyers, computer scientists, data scientists and government experts.

The organizing thesis was as follows: Interests in data collection, data use, and data holdings underlie many technical and business arrangements among parties in contemporary networked markets, but we lack the legal vocabulary to describe the kinds of interests (ownership or otherwise) created by such arrangements. To foster an appropriate balance of innovation, competition, privacy, transparency, and other important goods, legal innovation will be necessary. What are the best approaches to describe these core relationships and interests?

The Institute’s report, published today, summarizes the workshop discussion and key ideas. It includes a suggested reading list of key writings on these issues, sourced from the workshop’s participants.

We invite you to read the Workshop Report here. Many thanks to Microsoft for supporting the event.

February 22, 2019 - Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn and Expert Hal Singer Brief Congressional Staff on Approaches to Platform Competition

Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn and competition expert Hal Singer joined the Institute’s Executive Director Alexandra Givens Friday to brief Hill staff on approaches to platform competition.

There is increasing public conversation about the power and dominance of online platforms. Some dominant platforms are vertically integrated to serve both as platform provider and input provider: for example, Amazon is both a platform for online commerce and a merchandizer via Amazon’s private label. Comcast serves both as a platform to deliver video services and as an owner of some of those same services. Vertical mergers, such as Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, have proceeded with few impediments. To date, discrimination (or appropriation) by vertically integrated online platforms against similarly situated rivals has gone largely unchecked.

 

How should Congress and antitrust enforcers think about these issues? Do our antitrust laws need to be updated for the Internet era — and if so, how? Should Congress embrace other regulatory tools to fill the gaps in antitrust law?

 

The speakers have long worked on these and related issues. A paper by Gigi Sohn on this topic was published last year in the Platform Symposium issue of The Georgetown Law Technology Review, available here. Hal Singer, an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, has been advocating about a potential nondiscrimination regime for online platforms in remarks before the FTC available here.

February 13, 2019 - Faculty Director Tanina Rostain Recognized as One of ABA's 2019 Women of Legal Tech

Our Faculty Director Tanina Rostain is being recognized by the American Bar Association as one of 2019’s “Women in Legal Tech”.

The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s  Women of Legal Tech initiative launched in 2015 to celebrate women in legal technology. The 2019 class will be recognized on February 27th in Chicago at the Women of Legal Tech Summit.

Professor Rostain focuses on the use of technology and data science to improve access to justice. Among other achievements, she is the founder of the Iron Tech Lawyer Competition, in which law students create legal service apps to help pro bono clients. She is also co-founder of the Justice Lab at Georgetown Law, which looks at innovative approaches to close the justice gap.

Professor Rostain is leading cutting-edge research on the use of technology and data to improve access to legal services. This spring, she will host an NSF-backed workshop bringing together data scientists, technologists, legal service providers, and community leaders to identify how publicly-available data sets could be used to help identify and serve individuals needing legal assistance. This effort seeks to harness the growing energy around the open data movement, and bring its benefits to the legal services community.

Under Professor Rostain's leadership, Georgetown has become a hub focused on these issues and related questions about technology in the justice system. For example, the Tech Institute is leading a two-year research project in partnership with the Self-Represented Litigation Network about the use of legal technology solutions to improve court services for self-represented litigants. We will soon embark on another project to create a body of “best practice” materials for technologists who wish to create legal tech solutions for pro bono clients, ensuring that new entrants to this field understand the specific challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities of creating legal technology solutions.

Professor Rostain is an inspiring leader, constantly thinking of new questions, approaches, and opportunities on the use of technology to improve access to justice. We’re thrilled she is being honored with this great award.

 

February 4, 2019 - Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn Speaks About Friday's Oral Arguments in the Net Neutrality Case

Our Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn appeared today on Hill TV to discuss Friday’s oral argument in Mozilla Corp. v. FCC, a lawsuit challenging the FCC’s repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order. Sohn, a leading consumer advocate on communications issues, has long advocated for strong net neutrality protections to safeguard consumer interests and promote competition. She played an active role crafting the 2015 Open Internet Order as a Senior Counsellor at the FCC.

Explaining what’s at stake in the case, Sohn noted:

“Chairman Pai… not only repealed the rules. He repealed the power that the FCC has to protect consumers and competition, and to promote competition.

“There’s overwhelming support across the political spectrum for net neutrality to be reinstated… not only the rules, but also the authority. The American people… want a government entity to oversee this market where prices are high, or service is poor, or speeds are relatively slow compared to the rest of the world.”

An article in The Verge published Friday provides useful context on the issues in the case. Interviewed for that article, Sohn explained: “The main argument against [the FCC’s recent repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order] is the FCC violated the Communications Act when it ruled that broadband internet access service is an information service that has no telecommunications component at all.”

Consumer advocates have also argued that the FCC’s 2017 repeal of the Order was “arbitrary and capricious”, since it reversed a decision by the same agency less than two years before.

Sohn attended the 5-hour oral argument on Friday, as did a number of Georgetown Law students who have engaged on these issues through Georgetown’s IPR Tech and Communications Clinic. You can follow her work on net neutrality and other communications policy questions at www.gigisohn.com.

Watch the full interview here.

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January 30, 2019 - Call for Participants! Join Our Workshop on Data Science & Access to Justice

On June 2-4, 2019, the Tech Institute and Georgetown Law’s Justice Lab will host an NSF-supported workshop on computing, data science and access to civil justice.

Led by our Faculty Director Tanina Rostain, Jon Gould of American University, and Ellen Zegura of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the workshop will identify ways that data science and computer science can be deployed to study and address civil justice problems.

We have a limited number of slots available for researchers to attend the workshop. Applications are due by March 8, 2019.

The Workshop

As part of a National Science Foundation-funded project (SES 1839537), we are hosting a workshop at Georgetown University Law Center on June 2-4, 2019, with the goal of generating interdisciplinary research that applies methodologies used in computing disciplines (including but not limited to: computer science, data science, artificial intelligence, and human-centered design) to the study of civil justice problems. We invite the participation of scholars from across disciplines that apply methodologies from these fields to the study of poverty, inequality, labor, housing, race, the family, health care, and criminal justice to join us in developing a new research agenda for the study of civil justice in the United States.

The workshop will consider two broadly defined themes:

  1. The application of methodologies from computing disciplines to develop knowledge that considers the origins of people’s legal problems and the interventions that address them. This theme includes research on courts, administrative agencies, legal aid providers, and other institutions in the civil justice system. It also includes research on potential legal problems that do not make it to legal institutions, including the antecedents of legal problems and their consequences for the health, financial security, physical safety, and human well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

  2. The application of methodologies from computing disciplines to increase access to the legal system.  This workshop theme will explore how the use of human-centered computing can provide a basis for building, and rigorously testing, digital tools that are intended to expand access to and fairness of the civil legal system.  

How to Apply

Submit your CV and a short statement (no longer than 750 words) that includes:

  1. A brief description of research you are conducting or planning that intersects with the themes of this workshop;

  2. An explanation of how your research connects to the general theories, questions, or puzzles in your own discipline or in other disciplines (relevance of the research for social science); and

  3. A short explanation of the potential policy and/or practical implications of your research (relevance of the research to expanding or equalizing access to civil justice).

Applications will be reviewed on a competitive basis. Criteria for selection include the potential impact of the research on scholarship in one or more disciplines and the potential of the work to produce actionable intelligence for some aspect of civil justice. We especially welcome scholars who are new to access to justice research and from groups historically underrepresented in the academy.

If you are selected to attend the workshop, the National Science Foundation will cover your reasonable travel costs and accommodations in Washington. 

Applications are due by March 8, 2019 and should be submitted to Tanina.Rostain@Georgetown.edu.

Please address any questions before the due date to Tanina.Rostain@Georgetown.edu.  

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January 7, 2019 - One of World’s Leading Computer and Network Security Experts Joins Georgetown Faculty

Big news for Georgetown today: Matt Blaze, one of the world’s leading computer and network security experts, is joining us a law and computer science professor. Matt will have a joint appointment at the Law School and in our Computer Science department, making him the first computer scientist teaching without a J.D. in a tenured or tenure- track position at an American law school.

Matt is one of the world’s leading experts on security technology, public policy, wiretapping and surveillance issues, and he has testified before Congress on the security of electronic voting systems. We’re thrilled to have this distinguished scholar join our growing team at Georgetown. Read on for the full release.

One of World’s Leading Computer and Network Security Experts to Join Georgetown Faculty

JANUARY 7, 2019

Matt Blaze, an expert in computer and network security and one of the world’s leading cryptographers, has joined the university as a computer science and law professor.

Blaze, who will have a joint appointment at Georgetown Law and as the Robert L. McDevitt, K.S.G., K.C.H.S. and Catherine H. McDevitt L.C.H.S. Chair in the Department of Computer Science, comes to Georgetown from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a professor of computer and information science since 2004.

His interests include security technology, public policy, wiretapping and surveillance issues, and he has testified before Congress on the security of electronic voting systems.

DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR

“We are thrilled to welcome such a distinguished scholar as Professor Blaze to our faculty,” says Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, who adds that the new appointment will bolster the Law Center’s focus on technology. “Technology affects all aspects of legal practice today, and students will benefit from his expertise.”

“Lawyers need to be conversant with technology, whether through coding, creating apps for legal nonprofits, addressing the problems caused by cybercrime, solving issues relating to consumer privacy or understanding a software patent,” Treanor notes.

In recent years, Georgetown Law has launched a Center on Privacy & Technology as well as an Institute for Technology Law & Policy.

The school now offers more than 50 courses in technology, policy and intellectual property, with students having opportunities to become Tech Law Scholars, build apps to increase access to justice and more.

INNOVATIVE COURSES

Blaze holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in computer science from Princeton and an M.S. from Columbia. He earned his bachelor of science summa cum laude from City University of New York.

Prior to joining the University of Pennsylvania faculty, he conducted research in cryptology and security at AT&T Bell Laboratories/AT&T research from September 1992 to December 2003 — with an emphasis on systems and architectural aspects of security and trust in large-scale computing and communication systems.

Blaze will be the first computer scientist teaching without a J.D. in a tenured or tenure- track position at an American law school, according to Paul Ohm, associate dean for academic affairs at Georgetown Law and a technology specialist.

“Professor Blaze will teach innovative, interdisciplinary courses at the law school, including Technology of Surveillance and Electronic Voting Technology and Law,’” says Ohm, who teaches popular courses in computer programming for lawyers. “We are thrilled to welcome him to Georgetown.”

INTERDISCIPLINARY INQUIRY

Nitin Vaidya, chair of the computer science department, also welcomes Blaze to one of the fastest growing departments at the university.

The department, in addition to conducting research in traditional areas of the discipline, is developing interdisciplinary and networked courses and programs that connect computer science to other important areas of research such as policy, government and sociology.

“Professor Blaze is a well-recognized researcher and a leader in computer security,” Vaidya says. “He has made outstanding technical contributions, and also has had a significant impact on the practice and policies in the computer security area. I am delighted to welcome him to the computer science department at Georgetown.”

Dean of Georgetown College Christopher Celenza says the appointment is in keeping with the university’s goal of increasing knowledge production by supporting interdisciplinary inquiry.

“We are committed in Georgetown College to building bridges between disciplines and schools to advance our collective understanding of important world problems,” Celenza says. “Professor Blaze’s impactful work at the crossroads of computer science and law will serve as one of those important bridges. We are fortunate to have him at Georgetown.”

NATIONAL, GLOBAL IMPACT

“The appointment of Blaze adds to Georgetown’s reputation as a national and global nexus of issues related to technology and society,” says Provost Robert Groves.

As engineering schools and computer science departments focus on giving their students greater ethical and socially responsible foundations for their work, Groves says there is a “further critical component for technologists to understand and learn how to contribute to active discussions in law and public policy.”

“At the same time, there is a vital need for policymakers and civil society leaders to learn how to engage with technologists and become more literate about the ways technology is shaping our society.”

Today policymakers grapple with data privacy and protection, algorithmic bias, net neutrality and fundamental notions of how technologies can better serve people, he says.

The university regularly hosts high-profile convenings on technology governance and ethics and policy, bringing together national and international public and private sectors.

“Georgetown is a growing hub for many of these conversations, with the ability to bring in government officials, technologists, policymakers and civil society to find common issues, discuss new approaches and propose new ideas,” Groves says.

 


December 19, 2018 - Georgetown Tech & Communications Clinic Files FTC Complaint on Children's Privacy

Georgetown’s IPR Tech & Communications Clinic today filed a complaint with the FTC, requesting an investigation into whether Google's marketing of apps directed to children in the Google Play Store violates the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive and unfair practices.

The filing was submitted on behalf of IPR’s clients The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood and Center for Digital Democracy, and was joined by 20 other public interest advocacy groups. Joining groups included Public Citizen, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“Prompted by several recent academic studies finding that many Play Store apps Google identifies as expressly suitable for children are not actually appropriate for them, we conducted a review that reflected similar findings,” the filing states. “Thus, we ask the FTC to investigate whether Google is misrepresenting to parents that the apps in the Family section of the Play Store are child-appropriate when they are not, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.”

Georgetown Law students Bridget O'Connell, Allegra Kauffman, and Rachel Johns helped draft the filing, under the leadership of Georgetown IPR Fellow and Staff Attorney Lindsey Barrett (L’17) and IPR Director Professor Angela Campbell. The filing is part of IPR’s long-time work advocating for compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This fall, the Institute and IPR together hosted a conference on “COPPA at 20: Protecting Children in the New Digital Era”, which featured Professor Campbell alongside other experts and Georgetown Law faculty.

Today’s filing is available here, and you can see coverage of the filing on NBC News, the Associated PressBuzzfeed,  Market Watch and other outlets.

December 7, 2018 - Former FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny Joins Institute as a Distinguished Fellow

We’re thrilled to announce that Former FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny is joining the Institute as a distinguished fellow.

Terrell, who played a key role on significant antitrust and consumer protection enforcement at both the Federal Trade Commission (2014-2017) and the Department of Justice (2012-2014), brings a wealth of expertise at the intersection of law, policy and cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence, digital health, fintech and the “internet of things.”

Her new role will include writing in her areas of expertise, participating in policy convenings, and serving as a resource to the Georgetown Law community.

From our press release:

Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy provides a uniquely valuable forum in Washington, D.C., for policymakers, academics and technologists to discuss the most pressing issues and opportunities in technology law today. At the same time, the Institute is training the next generation of lawyers and lawmakers with deep expertise in technology law and policy.

“I am thrilled to join the important discussion on technology law and policy at the Institute”, said McSweeny. “As an alum, I am looking forward to contributing to the excellent work Georgetown Law School doing training  lawyers and addressing the challenging questions at the intersection of technology, law, and public policy.”

McSweeny is a partner in the D.C. office of Covington & Burling. She has deep experience with regulations governing mergers and non-criminal, anti-competitive conduct, as well as issues relating to cybersecurity and privacy facing high-tech, financial, health care, pharmaceutical, automotive, media, and other industries. Prior to joining the FTC, she served as chief counsel for competition policy and intergovernmental Relations for the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division. Prior to that she served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President (2009-2012), and as Senator Joe Biden’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Director in the U.S. Senate. McSweeny is a graduate of Georgetown Law.

Other fellows at the Institute include Gigi Sohn, former counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler; and Richard Whitt, former corporate director for strategic initiatives at Google.  The Institute is led by Executive Director Alexandra Reeve Givens, former chief counsel for intellectual property and antitrust to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and faculty directors Angela CampbellJulie CohenPaul Ohm and Tanina Rostain.  

Georgetown Law’s growing community of thought leaders and scholars focused on technology law and policy includes recently hired professors Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder, who serve among the Institute’s faculty advisors.  See the Institute’s full team here.

Distinguished Fellow Terrell McSweeny (L’04) speaks at a Tech Institute event, November 2016

Distinguished Fellow Terrell McSweeny (L’04) speaks at a Tech Institute event, November 2016