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

November 29, 2018 - Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein Speaks at Georgetown Conference on Cybercrime 2020: Revisiting the Future of Online Crime and Investigations

Georgetown’s Center on National Security and the Law today hosted “Cybercrime 2020: Revisiting the Future of Online Crime and Investigations.”

The event explored how newly emerging cybercrime trends and the courts’ latest technology-focused rulings are reshaping investigative techniques. The symposium’s panels examined how the courts and policymakers—in the U.S. and abroad—are likely to respond to recent advances in technology and evolving tech policy, and whether U.S. law enforcement’s existing tools and capabilities are up to the challenges ahead.

Video of the event is available here.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:00 am - 9:15 am  

  • Laura Donohue, Professor, Georgetown Law

  • Brian Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

Breakfast Address

9:15 am - 9:45 am 
(livestream will be available here

  • Peter Singer, Strategist and Senior Fellow, New America

  • in conversation with Leonard Bailey, Head of Cybersecurity Unit, DOJ, Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS)

Panel 1 – New Tech, New Crimes?

9:45 am - 11:00 am  
How will tomorrow’s cyber criminals exploit new technologies—from drones to “IoT” to cryptocurrencies—as consumers, businesses, and government begin adopting them?  How might criminals use new attack vectors, like interference with GPS and cellphone signals?  What technological challenges will law enforcement face in investigating these new means of committing cybercrime?  Will new machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other cybersecurity technologies help thwart cybercrime, or might they be corrupted to become part of the problem?  

  • Andrea Limbago, Chief Social Scientist, Virtru

  • Davi Ottenheimer, Founder, MongoDB 

  • Trent Teyema, Senior VP and Chief Technology Officer, Parson Corporation

  • Heather West, Senior Policy Manager, Mozilla

  • Michael Stawasz, Deputy Chief, DOJ, CCIPS (Moderator)

Panel 2 – Legislating Future Crimes:  Will New Prosecutorial Tools Be Necessary?

11:20 am – 12:35 pm

Are current laws “technology-neutral” enough to criminalize new cyber threats or do some criminal laws need to be amended—or new laws passed—to cover activities that may warrant prosecution in the future, such as communications jamming, “deep fake” video technology, invasive use of drones, and financial crimes involving crypto-currencies?  Will federal laws need to be amended to incentivize victims to practice self-help to respond to cyber intrusions and attacks in recognition of limited government resources?  Are we overlooking other gaps in the law?     

  • Richard DiZinno, Chief Counsel for National Security and Crime, Senate Judiciary Committee

  • Harley Geiger, Director of Public Policy, Rapid7

  • Michele Korver, Digital Currency Counsel, DOJ

  • Stephanie Pell, Professor, West Point’s Army Cyber Institute

  • William Hall, Senior Counsel, DOJ, CCIPS (Moderator)

Luncheon Keynote Address 

12:35 pm - 1:30 pm 

  • Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, DOJ 

Panel 3 – Investigative Tools and Techniques of Tomorrow

2:05 pm – 3:20 pm

Emerging technology may provide law enforcement with new challenges as cyber criminals use them to mask their crimes and identities and to thwart surveillance, but it may also furnish law enforcement with new opportunities to amass new types of evidence from novel sources and to and sift through large caches of data to extract evidence. How suitable are current electronic surveillance statutes like the Stored Communications Act, Wiretap Statute, and Pen Register/Trap and Trace Act for the collection of data from likely future crimes scenes, like IoT devices and autonomous cars?  What types of new investigative tools are needed for nefarious activities such as network intrusions, ransomware, network manipulation, and other types of technology-intensive crimes?

  • Megan Brown, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP

  • Patrick Day, Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein

  • Richard Downing, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, DOJ, Criminal Division

  • Mary Anne Franks, Professor, University of Miami

  • Jennifer Daskal, Professor, American University Washington College of Law (Moderator)

Panel 4 – Carpenter and the Future of the Fourth Amendment:  Where Do We Go from Here?

3:40 pm – 4:55 pm

The use of new investigative techniques will be tested by evolving Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. How do the prosecutorial tools and investigative techniques raised by the prior panels look in light of judicial doctrine? What constitutional issues do they raise? The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Carpenter may end up being a lynchpin of future legal decisions; however, the Court’s opinion raised as many questions as it answered.  How will Carpenter shape surveillance and privacy laws?  Will its reasoning be extended to areas other than location information?  If so, under what rationale?  How will it affect other Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, such as the third-party and private-search doctrines?  

  • April Falcon Doss, Partner, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

  • Nathan Judish, Senior Counsel, DOJ, CCIPS 

  • Paul Ohm, Professor, Georgetown Law

  • Michelle Richardson, Director of the Data and Privacy Project, Center for Democracy & Technology

  • Laura Donohue, Professor, Georgetown Law (Moderator)

Concluding Remarks

4:55 pm - 5:00 pm

  • Leonard Bailey, Head of Cybersecurity Unit, DOJ, CCIPS

November 16, 2018 - Georgetown & Berkeley Law Host 10th Annual Conference on the Role of the Courts in Patent Law and Policy

Georgetown Law and Berkeley Law today hosted our tenth annual conference on the Role of the Courts in Patent Law and Policy. Featuring keynote remarks from Federal Circuit Judge Alan Lourie and Director of the Patent & Trademark Office Andrei Iancu, the event brought together leading figures from the courts, the patent bar, academia and public policy.

The first panel of the day featured four judges from important federal district courts for patent litigation: the District of Delaware, the Southern District of California, and the Eastern District of Virginia. Moderated by Berkeley Law’s Prof. Peter Menell, the panel discussed latest developments in case management, including navigating stays of litigation during parallel proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and courts’ varying approaches to hearing arguments over 101.

In the second panel of the day, Erika Arner, current President of the PTAB Bar Association, moderated a discussion featuring Acting PTAB Chief Judge Scott Boalick and leading practitioners on recent developments at the the PTAB and the International Trade Commission (ITC). Chief Judge Boalick discussed recent rulemakings at the PTAB, such as changes to the standard for patent claim construction, which went into effect just this week.

The third panel brought together practitioners and academics, including Professor Tom Cotter, author of the Comparative Remedies Blog, for a discussion about approaches to patent remedies. John Mancini, a partner at Mayer Brown, spoke about new developments in how courts are interpreting and applying the EBay standard governing injunctions in patent suits.

The final panel featured former Solicitor General Paul Clement, Professor Mark Lemley and other academics discussing developments in case law and public policy during the past year. Jeff Lefstin, professor at U.C. Hastings, spoke about new caselaw emerging around Section 101; Sapna Kumar of the University of Houston discussed the impact of the Everlight case for Section 112’s enablement requirements.

Video of the event, CLE materials and slides from the speakers’ presentations are available here.

To receive an invitation to next year’s conference, join our mailing list.

This event was made possible by support from Cisco, Google, Intel, Samsung and Verizon. We thank them for their support!

October 30, 2018 - Apple's Chief Litigation Counsel and Opposing Counsel, Other Experts Discuss Supreme Court Case Apple v. Pepper

The Institute today hosted a panel of experts to discuss the antitrust standing case Apple v. Pepper, which will be argued before the Supreme Court on November 26. Apple’s Chief Litigation Counsel Noreen Krall and counsel for the plaintiffs, Mark Rifkin, debated the merits of the case, which asks whether iPhone users may sue Apple for alleged monopolization via the App Store, or whether they are barred from suit as “indirect purchasers” under the 1970s Supreme Court case Illinois Brick.

After the parties’ debate, a panel of experts took the stage moderated by Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog and AmyLHowe.com. Morgan Reed, Executive Director of ACT | The App Association, discussed the amicus brief his group filed in support of Apple, which argued that app developers, not iPhone users, are in a direct relationship with Apple for transactions in the iPhone store, and users should be barred from suit.

Sandeep Vaheesan of the Open Markets Institute, which filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs, argued that Apple’s influence over app prices and other terms in the App Store shows they are in a direct relationship with iPhone users, who should be able to sue for the harm they allege arises in supracompetitive pricing and restricted outputs in the App Store.

David Ashton, Associate Attorney General in the Texas AG’s Antitrust Division, discussed the brief he led on behalf of Texas, Iowa and 29 other states arguing that Illinois Brick’s distinction between “direct” and “indirect” purchases elevates form over market realities, and should be overturned. The panel was also joined by Rich Parker, partner at Gibson Dunn and former Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition from 1998-2001, who argued that Illinois Brick serves an important role so that alleged antitrust violators are not unfairly exposed to double recovery.

An audience of antitrust attorneys, in house counsel, consumer groups, press and students asked the panel’s views about why the Court granted cert, the likely outcome, and broader implications for how the Court views online platforms—including implications of the AmEx case.

The case goes before the Supreme Court on November 26th. You can read the briefs and view commentary at http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/apple-v-pepper/.

October 24, 2018 - Institute Hosts Conference on "COPPA at 20: Protecting Children's Privacy in the New Digital Era"

Twenty years after the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was signed into law, the Institute today hosted a conference focused on COPPA's implementation, the challenges posed by new technologies, and lessons to be learned in protecting children's online privacy.

The event featured FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, remarks from COPPA’s author Senator Ed Markey, and a host of panelists from academic, government, consumer advocacy groups and industry. 

During her opening remarks, the Institute’s Executive Director Alexandra Givens highlighted Georgetown’s deep connection to COPPA. Our Institute for Public Representation Communications Clinic played an active role in the work that led to enactment of the law in the 1990s, under the leadership of Professor Angela Campbell. Over the past 20 years, students in the clinic have filed 13 requests asking the FTC to investigate alleged COPPA violations, filed extensive comments in the 2012 COPPA update rulemaking, and submitted comments on all of the COPPA Safe Harbor proposals.

The day’s panels were moderated by Georgetown faculty and staff who have direct experience with COPPA. Dean Paul Ohm was a Senior Policy Advisor at the FTC at the time of the 2012 amendments to the COPPA rule. Laura Moy, now Executive Director of Georgetown’s Center on Privacy & Technology, led the IPR clinic in 2016 when it filed a complaint over “influencer” marketing targeting children on YouTube. Professor David Vladeck ran the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, which is charged with enforcing COPPA, from 2009-2012, including overseeing the 2012 rewrite of the FTC’s COPPA rules.  

The event reflected a rich mix of viewpoints on COPPA’s strengths, weaknesses, and the challenges of protecting children’s privacy in the new digital age.

You can view the program and video of the event here, read Commissioner Slaughter’s opening remarks here, and follow the conversation on Twitter at #COPPAat20.

Thanks to our great speakers, panelists, and engaged audience, and to our cosponsors for the event: the Future of Privacy Forum, the Center for Democracy & Technology, CommonSense Media and Consumers Union.

Professor David Vladeck, Justin Brookman of Consumers Union and Professor Angela Campbell at "COPPA at 20: Protecting Children's Privacy in the New Digital Era”.

Professor David Vladeck, Justin Brookman of Consumers Union and Professor Angela Campbell at "COPPA at 20: Protecting Children's Privacy in the New Digital Era”.

October 12, 2018 - Institute Executive Director Alexandra Givens Sworn in to the D.C. Innovation & Technology Inclusion Council

The Institute’s Executive Director, Alexandra Givens, was today sworn in to the D.C. Innovation & Technology Inclusion Council. The Commission advises D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and local agencies on strategies to promote new opportunities in the innovation and technology sectors. Professor Givens will serve a three-year term.

Professor Givens’ seat on the Council recognizes the Institute’s work leading BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders’ Initiative, a community-based project to support diverse women entrepreneurs across Washington D.C. Founded in 2016, BEACON brings together local entrepreneurs, service providers, policy experts and community leaders to identify and solve gaps in resources for women entrepreneurs. In addition to research, BEACON runs an annual grant program that funds innovative projects. It operates the District’s largest directory of women-owned businesses and resources for women founders. BEACON hosts or co-hosts regular programming, leads campaigns to address issues affecting women entrepreneurs, identifies speaking and vending opportunities for women business owners, and produces a biweekly newsletter that reaches over 3000 subscribers. It shares ongoing insights with national organizations including the National Women’s Business Council and the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

Our Institute Fellow, Deloris Wilson (L’16) works full time on the BEACON initiative, managing strategy and operations from the Law School with the support of law student RAs. Her recent research highlights gaps and opportunities in D.C.’s entrepreneurial landscape: Building Inclusive Ecosystems with Intentionality: A Strategy to Enhance Support for D.C.’s Women Founders.

The Institute’s work on BEACON builds on a rich tradition of the Law School supporting business owners in the community, including Professor Alicia Plerhoples’ Social Enterprise & Non-Profit Law Clinic, and the Law, Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation practicum taught by Professor Anthony Cook. You can read more about BEACON’s work at www.thebeacondc.com.

Executive Director Alexandra Givens is sworn in to the Innovation & Technology Inclusion Council

Executive Director Alexandra Givens is sworn in to the Innovation & Technology Inclusion Council

October 11, 2018 - Institutes Hosts Professor Orly Lobel for Talk on "You Don't Own Me: How Mattel v. MGM Entertainment Exposed Barbie's Dark Side"

On Wednesday, the Institute hosted the University of San Diego’s Orly Lobel for a talk on her book “You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side.

The book is an exploration of the 10-year drag out fight between Mattel and the makers of Bratz Dolls, initially conceived of and designed by a Mattel employee on his personal time. The book covers complex issues of creativity and IP ownership, employee mobility, competition, gender norms, and the business approaches and personalities that drive litigation decisions. You can read more about the book below.

October 10, 2018 - Privacy Center Director Laura Moy Testifies at Senate Hearing on Data Privacy

On Wednesday October 10th, the Privacy Center’s Executive Director Laura Moy testified before the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing on '“Consumer Data Privacy: Examining Lessons From the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act.”

In her prepared remarks, Moy stated:

“It feels significant to come before this institution in such an electrically charged time, and it feels important to speak truth in that context. So I wanted to start by explaining why I am here.

I am not here today because I am worried about private information being made public. This is not, for me, just about the classic “right to be left alone.” This is about our country—and the world—grappling with the implications of unbridled data collection, storage, and use—things that give the holders and users of data more power to influence society than we could have imagined before the digital era.

This is about confronting the ways in which the data-driven economy is contributing to extreme wealth disparity, extreme political polarization, extreme race- and class-based tension, and extreme information manipulation. We need to come together to rein in the problematic ways in which Americans’ data is being collected and stored without meaningful limitations, and used in ways that harm not only individuals, but our broader society.”

She went on to give a series of thoughtful recommendations for approaches to consumer privacy, including thoughts on strong enforcement by a federal agency, the role of states attorneys general, the need for forward-looking, flexible approaches to regulation, and the notion that “baseline obligations should attach to all collections and uses of consumer data. And some applications for Americans’ data should simply be off-limits.”

You can read Laura’s full testimony here, view the hearing here, and follow @GeorgetownCPT for live tweets from the hearing.

Georgetown Privacy Center’s Laura Moy testifies before the Senate Commerce Committee

Georgetown Privacy Center’s Laura Moy testifies before the Senate Commerce Committee

October 1, 2018 - Institute Fellow Deloris Wilson Speaks at The Atlantic Festival on AI & The Future of Work

Yesterday, Tech Institute Fellow Deloris Wilson (L’16) spoke at The Atlantic Festival on AI and the Future of Work. The panel featured Kelly Trindel, Head of Industrial Organizational Science and Diversity Analytics at Pymetrics and Sean Gourley, Founder and CEO of Primer, in a wide-ranging discussion about how cross-sector collaborations can better prepare our workforce to expand alongside new and changing technologies.

Machine learning is creating breakthroughs across disciplines – automating medical procedures, expediting legal analyses, and informing our understanding of society. However, machines must be taught to recognize patterns and solve the problems we face – and, as a result, their products or outcomes are not immune to bias, ethical concerns or disparate impact. In her remarks, Deloris discussed diversity and inclusion in both the build and deployment of artificial intelligence.

One of the greatest challenges produced by machine learning is its integration into the workforce. While the skills gap is exacerbated by an education system that too commonly deprioritizes STEM curriculum, existing workers may become displaced if they cannot adapt to changing technologies and roles. Deloris noted that women and people of color are specifically vulnerable to this industrial shift, since the industries and roles in which these groups are most strongly represented have a higher likelihood of automation.

But not all AI is “bad AI,” or even exclusionary in its approach: Kelly Trindel of Pymetrics spoke about how her company uses AI to employ a wide-lens approach in assessing employees’ potential over pedigree. Another platform, Alice, uses AI to better understand the needs of diverse small business owners and connect them to the resources, networks and opportunities they need.

Reimagining the end-product of machine learning algorithms also requires prioritizing diversity and inclusion at the onset: specifically, building diverse teams to design platforms, select data sets and define variables and processes, rather than assuming a reactionary approach to disparate impact, discrimination and ethical concerns. This is where policymakers could and should come in – first by ensuring that as individuals (and their staffers) are well-versed on emerging technologies (a goal of the Tech Institute’s Tech Foundations Program), and second, by aligning with technology companies and advocacy organizations that are in the field every day.

Deloris noted that regulation has to be imagined differently for AI, but exposure to performance mandates, a review of the applicability of existing regulatory models, and new regulations around inclusive data sets could be a helpful start. However, this technology is rapidly changing and we don’t yet know where we will end up. To that end, flexibility, forward-thinking and consistent touchpoints with experts and the community are key to ensuring that technological innovations continue to grow, inclusively.

For a full recap of the day’s session, including this panel, click here. This conversation begins at the 1:33:00 mark. 

 

 

Tech Institute Fellow Deloris Wilson (L’16) speaks at The Atlantic Festival

Tech Institute Fellow Deloris Wilson (L’16) speaks at The Atlantic Festival

September 13, 2018 - Georgetown hosts FTC's first hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

On September 13, Georgetown hosted the first of the FTC's hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. Among a range of distinguished speakers, the event included Georgetown Professors David Vladeck, former Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Howard Shelanski, former Head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and former Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics.

The hearing was the first in a series the FTC will hold in the coming months to examine how changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies, and international developments impact enforcement priorities and the landscape for competition and consumer protection law.

The session’s agenda included:

  • The current landscape of competition and consumer protection law and policy

  • Whether the U.S. economy has become more concentrated and less competitive

  • The regulation of consumer data

  • Antitrust law and the consumer welfare standard

  • The analysis of vertical mergers

In opening remarks, Chairman Joe Simons explained his hope that the hearings, among other goals, will improve consensus on antitrust. Professor Vladeck stressed the need to strengthen the FTC's expertise and tools to better address the challenges presented by new technologies.

You can see coverage from the hearing on Twitter at #FTChearings, and the video recording of the event is available here.

The FTC’s Bilal Sayyed (l) moderates a panel with former Asst. Attorney General for Antitrust James Rill, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman, former FTC Commissioner Tim Muris, Alysa Hutnik, Janet McDavid and Professor David Vladeck

The FTC’s Bilal Sayyed (l) moderates a panel with former Asst. Attorney General for Antitrust James Rill, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman, former FTC Commissioner Tim Muris, Alysa Hutnik, Janet McDavid and Professor David Vladeck

August 22, 2018 - Institute Hosts Start-Up Law 101 Workshop for D.C. Entrepreneurs

The Tech Institute today is hosting 150 women entrepreneurs from the D.C. area for an all-day workshop on "Start-Up Law 101". The program, hosted through our work on BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders' Initiative, brings together over 30 speakers on topics ranging from business formation, to protecting your unique idea, to partnerships and contracts and privacy concerns. 

This is our second year hosting StartUp Law 101 in partnership with ChIPS, the women in technology network and Google, which made its D.C. public events space available for the day. The program features law firm attorneys, in house counsels, former SEC regulators, privacy experts, and other lawyers, explaining the key legal issues a founder faces as they launch their business and scale.

The event also includes a panel of entrepreneurs sharing their stories of overcoming legal hurdles, and a panel of legal resource providers describing how founders can find (and work with) legal help. Georgetown Law's Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Clinic will present its work providing legal assistance to social enterprise organizations in the D.C. area. The Institute is publishing a Resource Guide for D.C.-area Legal and Business Clinics in connection with the event.

Today's event is part of the Institute's work on BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders' Initiative, which studies and develops strategies to promote a diverse and inclusive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. Incubated at the Institute and staffed by a full-time Georgetown fellow, BEACON works in partnership with the D.C. Mayor's Office and other local leaders. Its work has been featured by the National Women's Small Business Center and the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

You can read BEACON's recent report, "Building Inclusive Ecosystems With Intentionality: A Strategy to Support D.C.'s Women Founders" here.

Visit the StartUpLaw 101 Event Website here to view highlights from the day. 

August 14-15, 2018 - Institute Hosts Annual "Tech Foundations" Program for Congressional Staff

This week, the Institute hosted its annual program Tech Foundations for Congressional Staff, a two-day immersion program for staff to learn about new developments affecting technology policy.

Over two days, staffers participate in a rigorous classroom experience with lecture/seminar-style presentations from technologists, academics, and business leads. The program is designed to step back from typical "issue advocacy" and instead provide the technology, legal and business context for current tech policy debates.

Each year's program is designed based on feedback from Congressional staff about what matters most to them. Not surprisingly, this year's program had a strong focus on privacy, with additional sessions on algorithmic bias and accountability, competition, and content moderation. The program closed with a half-day simulation which saw teams of staffers respond to a protracted cyber influence campaign. 

The Tech Foundations program attracts staffers from both parties and chambers, drawing from committees and personal offices. It's one of our favorite programs of the year, as interested staff find time to connect with each other and explore complex issues in the classroom.

This year's event was made possible by support from BSA | The Software Alliance and the Internet Association. Thank you to them, to the great group of staff who joined, and to our phenomenal line-up of speakers.

You can see the full program for the event at www.georgetowntech.org/ctf. 

Tech Foundations 2018 - Poster (2).png
Tech Foundations 2018 - Poster (3).png

August 9, 2018 - Time to Revive OTA? Institute Publishes Report from Workshop on Improving Tech Policy Resources for Congress

Earlier this summer, the Institute hosted a workshop focused on improving Congressional access to tech policy expertise. The workshop built on the increasing calls for Congress to revive the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which from 1972-1996 provided Congress with deep expert analysis on science and technology issues.

Recent appropriations bills reported by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have called for further study of improving tech policy resources for Congress, including whether the best strategy is to refund OTA or boost services offered by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) or the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The workshop brought together former OTA staff and leadership, current congressional staffers, academics and policy experts for a two-hour discussion that weighed various policy options (a list of participants is included as the Report's Appendix A). Among other things, the group broadly agreed on the need to increase Congress’s resources for understanding technology policy. There was general agreement that those who care about improving Congress’s capabilities should work toward a set of consensus recommendations to better advise congressional efforts on this issue.

This report is intended as a step to facilitate that consensus, by highlighting common priorities and views discussed during the workshop. It is also intended to provide some early assistance to the study that is expected to follow from the above-mentioned House and Senate Appropriations Bills.

The report provides a framework for evaluating tech assessment programs, then summarizes participants' discussion of several potential sources of tech expertise: the National Academies, CRS, GAO, and a revived OTA. It discusses strategies to muster support for renewed tech assessment capabilities, and finally shares considerations for decision-makers who are evaluating the best avenues for improving tech assessment.

You can access the full report here.

Many thanks to the workshop's participants, whom we hope to continue engaging in this work.

July 23, 2018 - Georgetown Law Tech Review Symposium Issue on Platform Governance Is Here!

The Georgetown Law Tech Review's Symposium Issue went live today, featuring articles presented during our February symposium on the Regulation and Governance of Information Platforms.

The issue features pieces from Georgetown Law's Paul Ohm, Julie Cohen, and Anupam Chander, and Tech Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn. Other leading voices in technology scholarship also contributed essays, including former FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny writing about whether the FTC is keeping pace with new technologies, Danielle Citron and Ben Wittes in dialogue with EFF's Cindy Cohn writing about changes to Section 230, and Deidre Mulligan about misinformation and the right to truth.

In her introductory essay, Julie Cohen writes:

"Encounters between networked information technologies and law tend to be framed as examples of what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. For example, some argue that networked information and communication technologies are technologies of freedom, able to help human civilizations solve all of our most pressing problems—if only the law will stop undermining technology’s potential and either get with the program or get out of the way. Others assert that it is information technology that fatally undermines the rule of law—that unbreakable encryption and untraceable alternative currencies will plunge society into chaos, or that unaccountable and fundamentally nonhuman artificial intelligences spell the end for antiquated models of social control and regulation.
Whether any of those inspiring or doom-laden predictions will come to pass is beyond our ability to know, but their premises are wrong. Networked information technologies inevitably will alter, and are already altering, the future of law but not because there is any single, irresistible arc of technological progress. The reason, rather, is very nearly the opposite: information technologies are highly configurable, and their configurability offers multiple points of entry for interested and well-resourced parties to shape their development. For similar reasons, law is not an immovable object. Legal institutions are not fixed, Archimedean points around which modes of economic development shift and cohere. They are arenas in which interested parties struggle to define what constitutes “normal” economic or government activity and what qualifies as actual or potential harm, and they are also human-created artifacts whose form and function are not preordained.
[...] Understanding the various interactions between platforms and the law—and acting to reshape those interactions if their results are too socially costly—have become profoundly important projects. The essays in this symposium issue of the Georgetown Law Technology Review seek to broaden and deepen that discussion. Taken as group, the conceptual frameworks and regulatory proposals that the essays offer reflect efforts to bridge the space between old and new ways of thinking about the functions that platforms perform and the appropriate ways of governing those functions."

A list of Symposium articles below, and you can view the full issue here. 

I. GOVERNANCE OF AND BY PLATFORMS

  • Platforms Are Not Intermediaries - Tarleton Gillespie
  • The Platform Is the Message - James Grimmelmann
  • Regulating Informational Infrastructure: Internet Platforms as the New Public Utilities - K. Sabeel Rahman
  • Primitives of Legal Protection in the Era of Data-Driven Platforms - Mireille Hildebrandt

II. PROBLEMS OF ACCESS AND ENTRY

  • Should We Be Concerned about Data-opolies? - Maurice E. Stucke
  • Sources of Tech Platform Power - Lina M. Khan
  • A Policy Framework for an Open Internet - Gigi B. Sohn
  • Integrative Information Platforms: The Case of Zero-Rating - Olivier Sylvain
  • Prosumer Law and Network Platform Regulation: The Long View Towards Creating OffData - Chris Marsden

III. PROBLEMS OF FACT AND VALUE

  • The Myth of Platform Neutrality - Anupam Chander and Vivek Krishnamurthy
  • From Platforms to Springboards - Derek E. Bambauer
  • Bad Facts Make Bad Law: How Platform Censorship Has Failed So Far and How To Ensure that the Response to Neo-Nazis Doesn’t Make it Worse - Cindy Cohn
  • The Problem Isn’t Just Backpage: Revising Section 230 Immunity - Danielle Keats Citron and Benjamin Wittes
  • Why Do People Share Fake News? A Sociotechnical Model of Media Effects - Alice E. Marwick

IV. CODING REGULATION VS. REGULATING CODE

  • Psychographics, Predictive Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, & Bots: Is The FTC Keeping Pace? - Terrell McSweeny
  • Technology Regulation by Default: Platforms, Privacy, and the CFPB - Rory Van Loo
  • Regulating at Scale - Paul Ohm
  • Rescripting Search to Respect the Right to Truth - Deirdre K. Mulligan and Daniel S. Griffin

July 19, 2018 - Privacy Center Hosts Third Annual "Color of Surveillance" Conference

On Thursday, Georgetown's Center on Privacy & Technology hosted its third annual conference, The Color of Surveillance -- this year, focusing on government surveillance of American religious minorities.

The conference featured over 30 speakers from academia, advocacy groups and religious organizations to discuss the history and current use of government surveillance to monitor religious groups. Historical presentations highlighted surveillance of Pilgrims in the 16th and 17th centuries, the targeting of Mormons in the 19th century, and surveillance of American Jews and Black clergy in the 20th century.  

The afternoon's presentations focused on surveillance in modern times, from post 9/11 watchlists to President Trump's "extreme vetting" plan to use an automated system that would analyze a vast web of online information, which critics blasted as a "digital" Muslim ban. Farhaj Hassan of Muslims United for Justice and Asad Dandia of NYU presented on the Raza and Hassan cases in which they were lead plaintiffs challenging the NYPD's surveillance of New York Muslims.

Final sessions talked about the role of community action in challenging surveillance, including the coalition that helped pass legislation in Oakland that is arguably the strongest surveillance oversight law in the country.

This post barely does justice to the rich line-up of speakers, poets and artists who spoke at the event. For more, read the Privacy Center's great Twitter feed from the conference at https://twitter.com/hashtag/colorofsurveillance or visit the conference website at www.colorofsurveillance.org.