Mike Godwin

Sex trafficking act would lead to censorship online, not safety

Changes unveiled last week to the controversial Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) have won the support of the Internet Association, which includes tech giants like Facebook and Twitter. While these …

What the White House needs to disclose about its process for revealing cybersecurity vulnerabilities

The following op-ed was co-authored by Michelle Richardson, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Freedom, Security, and Technology Project. At a series of events earlier in October, …

DOJ’s Rosenstein is set to jump back down the rabbit hole of opposing encryption in your smartphone

Back in May, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote the notorious disapproving memo that President Donald Trump used as pretext to fire FBI Director James Comey. But on …

It’s time to pass legislation governing a key part of the government’s hacking policy

The following op-ed was co-authored by Michelle Richardson, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Freedom, Security, and Technology Project. It’s well-known that government is in the …

Yes, you can believe in internet freedom without being a shill

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Tech Policy Director Zach Graves. You may have noticed lately that there's an increasing (and increasingly coordinated) effort to paint …

How supporting internet freedom in Cambodia makes America great

I’ve had the privilege of working on internet freedom issues in a range of foreign countries, but none of my partnerships abroad has meant more to me than …

A bill intended to stop sex trafficking could significantly curtail internet freedom

No one can dispute that there is sex trafficking in the United States, or that criminals now use the internet to facilitate sex trafficking and other crimes, just …

Great ECPA expectations

When the Electronic Communications Privacy Act first was passed back in 1986, lawmakers mostly didn’t even imagine that email might play a central role in American life. Scarcely …

Why quality will trump quantity in the net-neutrality debate

If you count just by numbers alone, net-neutrality activists have succeeded in their big July 12 push to get citizens to file comments with the Federal Communications Commission. …

Looking forward to next 20 years of a post-Reno internet

The internet we have today could have been very different, more like the over-the-air broadcast networks that still labor under broad federal regulatory authority while facing declining relevance. But …

Everyone should be getting Wikipedia for free

Internet providers should be able to experiment with giving subscribers free stuff, such as access to Wikipedia and other public information and services on their smartphones. Unfortunately, confusion …

Don’t freak out about the FCC’s new approach to net neutrality

This op-ed was coauthored by Mike Godwin and Tom Struble. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission took a major, controversial step: In a  2–1 vote, the FCC—under the leadership …

Here comes the attempt to reframe Silicon Valley as modern robber barons

It's difficult for me to read Jonathan Taplin's cri de coeur about Google and other technology companies that have come to dominate the top tier of successful American …

Catching the Third Wave: A tale of two tech-policy battles

In his recent book "The Third Wave," AOL founder Steve Case outlines what the latest generation of technology companies will need to do to succeed, stressing the importance …

Congress’ new opportunity to protect free speech: Voting to pass SPEAK FREE

As a computer hobbyist 30 years ago, I already could see where this online chat thing was going. Long before the word "internet" became part of the universal …

R Street response to BEREC on zero-rating and net-neutrality guidelines

  This letter represents a response by R Street Institute to recent public comments on your proposed guidelines for network-neutrality rules. Because R Street interprets some of these comments …

Be careful what you vote for

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Texas Director Josiah Neeley.  Rarely has a vote had such an immediate effect. On May 7, Austin residents elected not to …

Key lessons from Austin’s ridesharing debacle

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Texas Director Josiah Neeley. Rarely has the effect of a vote been felt so quickly. Austin citizens voted May 7 not …

A plea to Congress not to ‘fix’ a music market that isn’t broken

Dear Congress, By now, maybe you've read the "Dear Congress" letter that many music companies and individual artists have signed asking you to "fix" the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—a …

I created Godwin’s Law in 1990, but it wasn’t a prediction – it was a warning

Earlier this month, my email and social media alerts starting going off when friends let me know a pseudonymous number-cruncher had "proved" Godwin's Law. This struck me as odd, …

Google to France: We can’t pick this Bonaparte

Today's announcement from Google that the company will appeal a French agency’s order to abide by France’s version of the so-called "right to be forgotten" all over the …

Congress, not DOJ or the courts, should decide whether to update music-copyright framework

Tom Lehrer’s famous recording of his song “New Math” begins with the joke that, in teaching basic mathematics in the New Math way, “the important thing is to …

You, too, should celebrate the end of the Google Books litigation

If you felt a vibration in the air this morning, it may have been the final sigh of relief so many of us heaved when the U.S. Supreme …

It’s time for Uber’s regulators to be as transparent as the company is

This post was coauthored by R Street Policy Analyst Nathan Leamer. Recent years have seen a range of internet companies release “transparency reports” that attempt to detail, to the …

Encryption: Balancing the needs of law enforcement and the Fourth Amendment

My name is Mike Godwin and I’m director of innovation policy and general counsel for the R Street Institute, a free-market public-policy think tank based in Washington. I’m …

Burr-Feinstein anti-crypto proposal would undermine digital security everywhere

We at R Street have known for a while that Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. were planning to propose anti-encryption legislation that would be truly …

France fines Google for failing to forget

France's data-privacy authority announced today that it will impose a fine on Google for failing adequately to comply with the so-called "right to be forgotten." (For background on …

Beyond the box

If you subscribe to pay TV, the odds are 99–1 you have what the TV industry calls a “set-top box.” Even greater are the odds that, if you …

FBI’s sudden move in Apple case isn’t really a surprise

The following post was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. After an abrupt “motion to vacate” Monday evening, the U.S. Justice Department has won postponement of …

EU platform regulations may hurt consumers and European startups and lock in dominance of U.S. companies

In the response we at the R Street Institute provided to the European Commission’s survey on “Digital Single Market” regulation of what the commission calls “online platforms,” we …

Charting a path forward for Internet access in India

The attached policy short was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Sharada Srinivasan.   When India’s network-neutrality activists won an overwhelming victory in February, their first impulse was to celebrate on …

Digital eyes on the prize

Shortly after the news flurry surrounding the public dispute between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Apple Inc., the American Enterprise Institute’s Gus Hurwitz argued in a Feb. …

Let’s keep remembering the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’

Search-engine giant Google announced earlier today that it has expanded its implementation of the European Union’s "Right to Be Forgotten." I get why the company made this choice, …

Joint brief from libertarian groups on U.S. Copyright Office software study

The attached brief was co-signed by Ryan Hagemann of the Niskanen Center and Wayne T. Brough of FreedomWorks.  The signatories listed below are libertarian organizations whose mission is to engage in …

Comments to U.S. Copyright Office on embedded software

The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization (“think tank”), whose mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets …

Broad coalition calls to open hearings on FISA Section 702

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers, The undersigned organizations appreciate the promise you made during the debates on USA Freedom to hold hearings on Section 702 of the …

These are not the free market rates you’re looking for

This piece was co-authored by R Street Digital Director Zach Graves.  America’s music-copyright world was shaken up in December when the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) issued its long-awaited rate …

Sure, call Trump a Nazi. Just make sure you know what you’re talking about.

First, let me get this Donald Trump issue out of the way: If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer …

Coalition letter to White House and Congress on cyber security

Dear President Barack Obama and Members of Congress, The undersigned organizations urge you to oppose the newly negotiated “conference”  legislation that purports to resolve differences between H.R. 1560, which …

Free-market groups support CRFA

As free-market organizations, we write to express our strong support for your committee’s ongoing efforts to defend commerce and freedom of expression. In particular, as advocates for a free and …

The many, many, many flaws of CISA

There are two basic problems with the so-called Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which is scheduled for possible amendment in the Senate on Tuesday. The first is everything the …

Google Books is good for everybody

In 1990, Pierre N. Leval, then serving as a federal judge, ran across an unexpected stumbling block while crafting a Harvard Law Review article about the “fair use” doctrine …

R Street and Third Way urge declassification of electronic surveillance bill records

Dear Chairman Burr, Chairman Nunes, Ranking Member Feinstein & Ranking Member Schiff, As you well know, Congress plays a vital role in overseeing our nation’s intelligence programs. Beginning in …

Facebook’s basic instincts

Facebook’s announcement last week that it is rebranding its Internet.org initiative—a bundle of free Internet services that has been rolled out, step by step, in developing countries over …

France’s privacy regulators want to dictate what you (Yes, you!) can find online

Whether you're an American sitting at laptop in Hawaii or a Japanese citizen using your smartphone in Kyoto, French privacy regulators believe they have the authority to block …

Of course federal agencies hate search-warrant requirements for email

Unsurprisingly, witnesses who testified today before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act stressed that the law, passed before the down …

Our inboxes, ourselves

An ancient email privacy law might finally be updated. Congress needs to get it right. A federal law protects some of your email from government snooping without a warrant. …

The business case for Cambodian Internet freedom

Riven by Marxist-inspired genocide only a few decades ago, Cambodia now aspires to both democracy and something like a free market—at least, in theory. But the country’s ruling party, …

Split works debate raises thorny issues for music companies (and for the rest of us)

The following piece was co-authored by Google Policy Fellow Sasha Moss. Michael Corleone would understand. Just when music companies and their performance-rights organization (PROs) thought they were getting out …

Je ne suis pas Google

The French government's privacy-regulation agency decided in June to order Google Inc. to remove (or "delist") from all Google websites worldwide – not just those in France or …

Judge fixes troubling court order in CloudFlare filtering case

I've written before to express skepticism about whether it makes sense for a federal court to order a content-delivery network like CloudFlare to filter its services proactively for …

Two tables show how complicated music-copyright rate-setting is

Even after you’ve learned the basics of U.S. copyright law, once you delve into music copyrights, you discover an even more complex—I like to say "fractally complex"—framework at …

Pandora’s radio station purchase just latest twist in labyrinth of music rights

Anyone who follows the ongoing disagreements between Pandora and the publishers rights organizations (PROs, including the two giants, the American Society of Composers and Broadcast Music Inc.) is …

Heritage on how conservatives should approach patent reform

The following post was co-authored by Zach Graves. Patent reform bills have cleared markup this session in both the Senate Judiciary Committee (S.1137, the PATENT Act) and the House Judiciary …

Don’t cast CloudFlare as copyright/trademark enforcer

You may be used to thinking of the Internet as being built of:  Services that directly connect you to the Internet; Services that offer their own content to the Internet; …

Reason.com subpoena is outrageous prosecutorial overreach

Just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Elonis decision in a case centered on online threats, a federal prosecutor issued a grand jury subpoena …

The troubling intersection of national courts and international censorship

Should national-level courts routinely assume or impose their jurisdiction on international entities when it comes to content? That's the question Daphne Keller of Stanford University's Center for Internet …

Committee-passed Innovation Act includes significant litigation reforms

Now that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has successfully shepherded the Innovation Act through his committee, I'm heartened to note the significant major reforms that made …

A buzzword glossary for tomorrow’s Innovation Act markup

The Innovation Act, a bill in the U.S. House that aims to reform patent litigation in the United States, has gotten a lot of bipartisan support, but has …

USTR doesn’t need an IP czar

In a Congress that is likely this year to pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation, aimed at making trade agreements easier, you may ask why pro-free-trade legislators also proposing …

Supreme court dodges First Amendment issue, but still puts limits on criminalizing speech

Almost exactly 20 years ago, I first wrote about federal prosecutors' novel effort to prosecute repulsive Internet speech by using 18 USC Sec. 875(c), which prohibits "in interstate …

A guide through Senate amendments to the USA FREEDOM Act

The attached policy brief was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. NSA apologists (we sometimes call them “the security hawks”) could use the USA FREEDOM Act as …

A guide through Senate amendments to the USA FREEDOM Act

The following was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. As most anyone interested now knows, Congress last night allowed Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to sunset. …

Solicitor General drops the ball in Oracle v. Google copyright case

You probably already know it’s baseball season, but you may have missed some particularly interesting inside baseball going on in the world of copyright law and policy. The most …

General Motors says it’s just loaning you your car’s software

Imagine a world in which automakers declared that, even though you own most of the vehicle you purchased from your auto dealer, you don’t own the tires. No, …

Copyright, pharmaceutical enforcement shouldn’t be imposed on ICANN

Since 1998, U.S. policy has held that the Internet’s “IANA functions” — the technical functions collectively referred to as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, administered by ICANN.org — …

What the ‘zero rating’ debate reveals about net neutrality

February's vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose demanding net-neutrality rules on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has now been followed by a 300-plus-page Report and Order. Add in more …

Letter from 33 groups on copyright reform

The attached letter from 33 advocacy groups urges Congress to take simple targeted steps to curb copyright infringement and frivolous lawsuits, but to avoid regulatory overreach that would …

Internet ain’t broke, don’t let AG try to fix it

For all that we complain about the Internet from time to time, the fact is, for the most part, we love the Internet. Yet not all of us …

Amicus brief in Google v Hood

Amici Curiae submit this brief because the stakes of this case go well beyond the particular burden the attorney general's investigation may place on one service provider. This …

The long arm of the law

Emotionally, it's hard for me to defend Jake Baker. At best, the University of Michigan undergraduate is an amateur writer with a repellently misogynistic imagination. At worst, Baker …

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