Agenda for the 116th Congress: Bring Back Consumer Protection and a Fair Marketplace

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As Americans woke this morning from their long night of watching election results, there was a new political reality in Washington. A Democratic Party takeover the House of Representatives has created divided government again. Just under two years ago, Public Knowledge President & CEO Gene Kimmelman described a fight for fairness under the newly elected President and Congress. Although fairness is often referenced by President Trump, Americans have not experienced a great deal of it over the past two years in tech policy. This newly elected Congress now has a new opportunity to return to protecting an American public who has seen their interests ignored over the past two years of tech policy. Here are a few areas of focus for legislators looking to bring greater fairness to a technology marketplace that leaves consumers powerless to dominant companies.

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Part V: We Need to Fix the News Media, Not Just Social Media—Part 3

This blog post is a sequel to Fix Media Not, Just Just Social Media Part -- 2, and part of our continuing series on platform regulation. Part 1 rejected the argument that the current crisis in journalism (both the crisis of the business of news and the crisis of trust in journalism) is strictly the fault of digital platforms. To the contrary, a series of bad business decisions starting in the 1990s contributed hugely to the financial collapse of traditional print media and the general “dumbing down” and partisan fragmentation in the news. Part 2 placed the current crisis of journalism in historical context, observing that for over a century the evolution of new communications technologies has time and again dramatically reshaped both the reporting side and the business side of journalism. Social media is no exception to this cycle, and coverage of Ferguson in 2014 provides valuable lessons for how the nature of reporting news can successfully leverage social media platforms in positive ways.

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Part V: We Need to Fix the News Media, Not Just Social Media—Part 2

This blog post is part of our long series on platform competition, and a sequel to Part V: We Need to Fix the News Media, Not Just Social Media -- Part 1, which noted the decline in the quality of journalism and the increasing public distrust of traditional newspapers and broadcast news. While the following post acknowledges that there are real information problems triggered by social media platforms, including extreme headlines, hyper-partisanship, and radicalization, it proposes that the underlying distrust with the news industry should be addressed first. To do so, PK Senior Vice President Harold Feld calls for a policy intervention to repair the reputation of journalism and to adapt journalism to the digital age, while incorporating the positive power of platforms.

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Why Rural Communities of Color Are Left Behind: A Call for Intersectional Demographic Broadband Data

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I spent many weekends and summers at my grandmother’s house, a humble home down a long, dirt road outside of the town of Hazlehurst, Georgia. As a teenager and undergraduate student, a time when many of us are far too social, I knew a visit to my grandmother’s house meant an unwanted digital detox. Instead, I enjoyed the tranquility of sitting on the porch as mosquitoes buzzed by or I accompanied my grandmother in the living room as she watched reruns of Bonanza. I found other things to do with my time and not because I enjoyed being disconnected; it was because AT&T’s (during some of those years it was Cingular Wireless) cell reception was non-existent. In 2018, I now have one or two bars that sometimes allow me to make a call or text to a friend when I’m visiting; however, full access to the internet solely with my wireless connection is just not possible.

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