Nov. 22, 2016

Andy Schwartzman : What to Expect from Tech Policy Under Trump

Andrew Jay Schwartzman () is the Benton Senior Counselor at the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center. He directed Media Access Project, a public interest media and telecommunications law firm, for 34 years. Mr....

Andrew Jay Schwartzman (@aschwa02) is the Benton Senior Counselor at the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center. He directed Media Access Project, a public interest media and telecommunications law firm, for 34 years. Mr. Schwartzman serves on the International Advisory Board of Southwestern Law School’s National Entertainment & Media Law Institute and on the Board of Directors of the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and was the Board President of the Safe Energy Communications Council for many years.

Mr. Schwartzman’s work has been published in major legal and general journals, including Variety, The Nation, The Washington Post, COMM/ENT Law Journal, the Federal Communications Law Journal, and The ABA Journal. He has also been a frequent guest on television and radio programs. In recognition of his service as chief counsel in the public interest community’s challenge to the FCC’s June, 2003 media ownership deregulation decision, Scientific American honored Schwartzman as one of the nation’s 50 leaders in technology for 2004. Schwartzman was the 2002 Verizon Distinguished Lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, the 2004 McGannon Lecturer on Communications Policy and Ethics at Fordham University in 2004, and the Distinguished Lecturer in Residence at the Southwestern University School of Law Summer Entertainment and Media Law Program at Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge (2004).

In this episode we discussed:

  • possible scenarios regarding the AT&T/Time Warner merger.
  • what an FCC under an Ajit Pai Chairmanship might look like.
  • the possible future of net neutrality under a Donald Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress.


Andy's Schwartzman's 'The Daily Item' Newsletter (subscribe here)

Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center

The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump by G.B. Trudeau


A BuzzFeed analysis of news stories appearing on Facebook found fake news stories received more engagements during the final three months before the presidential election than news stories from the leading real news outlets. The difference was some 1.4 million combined likes, shares and comments. At a news conference in Germany, President Obama expressed concern about the spread of fake news saying Q“If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not ... if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems".

On the Washington Post's The Intersect Blog, a fake news writer by the name of Paul Horner, who has written numerous fake news stories which have gone viral, expressed regret for the stories he wrote and said he thinks President-elect Trump won the election because of him.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg  was initially dismissive, saying the week before last that the notion of fake news having impacted the election in any significant way is a "pretty crazy idea". Since then, Zuckerberg has announced initiatives to identify fake news, such as through user generated reports.

Meanwhile, a group of students participating in a hackathon at Princeton last week developed a Chrome plug-in that allows users to assess the veracity of news stories.


Policymakers are increasingly concerned about the role that mobile apps play in distracted driving incidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that between January and June of this year, highway fatalities were up 10.4% to 17,775, compared to the same period in 2015. Neal Boudette reports in The New York Times on goals set during the Obama administration to eliminate highway fatalities by 2047.


SnapChat filed for an initial public offering last week. The IPO is expected to be valued at around $20 billion. It is the largest IPO since Facebook's in 2012.  Reuters has more.


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has submitted his resignation after a 50- year U.S. intelligence career. In October, Clapper's office formally concluded that Russia was behind cyberattacks intended to sway the U.S. presidential election, and that Rusian President Vladimir Putin has almost certainly approved them. Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee that submitting his resignation "felt pretty good." Greg Miller has the story at the Washington Post.


A new Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure--Rule 41--which would give federal authorities sweeping powers to search devices, is set to go into effect on December 1st. Currently, federal judges can only authorize searches within their own jurisdictions. Once Rule 41 goes into effect, judges will have the authority to issue search warrants for computers located outside their jurisdictional boundaries, potentially allowing a single judge to issue searches of millions of computers.  Civil rights groups are concerned about the rule would intrude on innocents, particularly communities of color. Senator Ron Wyden has proposed legislation to scale back Rule 41, but it hasn't even gotten a committee hearing. On Thursday, Delaware Senator Chris Coons introduced legislation that would delay Rule 41's implementation. David Kravets covers this for Ars Technica.


Twitter has suspended several accounts linked to the alt-right--super-conservative ideologues, many of whom promote white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center had asked Twitter to remove about 100 accounts expressing white nationalist views for violation of Twitter's terms of service. Among the suspended accounts -- Richard Spencer, President of the National Policy Institute--an organization whose website says is "dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of  people of European descent in the United States." Spencer said Twitter's deletion of his account was akin to a "digital execution". USA Today notes that Spencer has called for removing blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Jews from the United States. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also apologized last week for allowing an ad promoting a white supremacist group. Jessica Guynn has the story at USA Today.


Amar Toor at the Verge reported that China has threatened to cut iPhone sales if President-elect Trump follows through on his threat to declare China a currency manipulator and impose a 45% tariff on Chinese exports. China also threatened to limit automobile and other sales.


It appears that the Trans-Pacific Partnership--the trade deal that would have enhanced American ties with 11 countries, counterbalancing China's influence in the region--appears to have been defeated even before President-elect Trump has taken office. The deal simply doesn't have enough votes in Congress, and President-elect Trump has stated he would oppose the deal. Elise Labott and Nicole Gaouette reported this for CNN.


The GOP has successfully forced the FCC to cancel nearly its entire November open meeting agenda, which was supposed to take place last Thursday. Up for consideration were bulk data caps, the Mobility Fund, and a proposed rule on roaming obligations of mobile providers. One Freedom of Information Act request remained on the agenda. Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune had sent a letter to the FCC Tuesday warning against “complex, partisan, or otherwise controversial items.” Massachusetts Senator Markey blasted Thune's heavy-handed approach, with Thune responding that he was only referring to the most controversial items. Brendan Bordelon has the story in Morning Consult.


Finally, the hold on Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's nomination has been lifted. Democrats Ron Wyden and Ed Markey had put a hold on the Commissioner's nomination following her rejection of the set-top box competition proposal. Rosenworcel will need to be confirmed before the end of the Commission in order to stay on. Some analysts are speculating that Rosenworcel might vote in favor of the set-top box rules currently on circulation.  Brendan Bordelon covers the story in Morning Consult.