Every year, tens of thousands of people swarm to Austin, Texas for SxSW – one of the biggest annual gatherings of technologists, activists and entrepreneurs in the country.

Here at R Street, we think this is a great opportunity to promote free-market ideas and interact with the broader policy community and its stakeholders. But the landscape of events can be hard to navigate, especially with so many sessions of dubious interest to the policy wonk, such as “Dude, Where’s My Par?” and “Comic Sans Exists for a Reason.”

In previous years, I’ve published a list of what I think are the best policy-focused events to help make them more accessible. Check out my full guide below. Think I’m missing something? Let me know.

The “(★)” indicates a member of Congress will be participating. The “(R)” designates an R Street-sponsored event.


12:30 p.m.: Beyond Urban: Startups and the American Landscape (★) • JW Marriott, Salon 1-2

2:30 p.m.: President Barack Obama Keynote • Long Center, Dell Hall

3:30 p.m.: Giving the Internet Away? ICANN Explained • JW Marriott, Salon 5

3:30 p.m.: Mobile Ventures’ Identity and Privacy Management • Hilton, Salon B

5 p.m.: Everybody Dies: What Is Your Digital Legacy? • Austin Convention Center, Room 8ABC

5 p.m.: Putting the Public back into Public Policy (★) • JW Marriott, Salon 1-2

5 p.m.: Internet of Things: Just Someone Else’s Computer? (★) • JW Marriott, Salon 5

5 p.m.: Copyright and Creators: 2026 • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4


9 a.m.: Startup Breakfast with United States Patent & Trademark Office • WeDC

9:30 a.m.: Surveillance, Sousveillance and Body Cams • JW Marriott, Salon 1-2

9:30 a.m.: The Emerging Millennial Consensus on Tech Policy • Omni, Capital Ballroom

9:30 a.m.: Supporting US Entrepreneurs: America Job 1 (★) • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

9:30 a.m.: Smart City: The Austin Opportunity for Health • 3TEN Austin City Limits Live

9:30 a.m.: How the Big Tech Firms Protect Consumer Privacy • JW Marriott, Salon 5

11 a.m.: Tech and a Modern Government (★) • Omni, Capital Ballroom

11 a.m.: New Face, New Pace: Innovation Beyond 2016 • Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABCD

11 a.m.: Smart Cars, Smarter Cities: New Transit Tech • Austin Convention Center, Room 8ABC

12:30 p.m.: Growing a Diverse Innovation Ecosystem (★) • Omni, Capital Ballroom

2 p.m.: How to Disrupt Government (★) • Omni, Capital Ballroom

3:30 p.m.: Robot Cars and Sharing: Road Rage or Smooth Sailing? • Austin Convention Center, Room 8ABC

3:30 p.m.: Using Data Science to Catch Legislators in the Act • JW Marriott, Salon 5

5 p.m.: Elise’s Data Plan: Connecting Rural America (★) • JW Marriott, Salon 5

5 p.m.: American Innovation and Cybersecurity (★) • Omni, Capital Ballroom

5 p.m.: GovGames: Gamers and Policymakers Meetup • RA Sushi Bar

5 p.m.: Policy Happy Hour (R) • Hosted by R Street and CDT (Invitation Only)


9:30 a.m.: Innovation Infrastructure: IoT in Public Space (★) • Omni, Capital Ballroom

11 a.m.: Get Your Goods: Unmanned Systems and 3D Printing • Austin Convention Center, Room 6AB

11 a.m.: Is There an Innovation Party? • Omni, Capital Ballroom

11 a.m.: Decrypting the Cybersecurity Debate in Washington (★) • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

12:30 p.m.: Shared Future: STEM and P3s (★) • Omni, Capital Ballroom

12:30 p.m.: Hacking Your Ride: Transportation Safety and Risk • Austin Convention Center, Room 6AB

2 p.m.: How to Disrupt a Regulated Industry • Omni, Capital Ballroom

3:30 p.m.: Protecting the Digital You • JW Marriott, Salon 1-2

3:30 p.m.: Beyond Traffic: The Emergence of a Connected City • Austin Convention Center, Room 6AB

3:30 p.m.: Smartwatch or Spyware? Considering Privacy and IoT • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

3:30 p.m.: The New Battleground: States and Tech Policy • Omni, Capital Ballroom

3:30 p.m.: Portable Benefits: The Future of the Safety Net • Hilton, Salon C

3:30 p.m.: Fair Use and Transformative Works Meet Up • JW Marriott, Room 213

5 p.m.: Autonomous Vehicles Are Here. But Are We Ready? (R) • JW Marriott, Salon 5

5 p.m.: The End of Online Free Expression? • JW Marriott, Salon 1-2

5 p.m.: Enabling Cannabis Innovation with Law and Policy • Hilton, Salon D

5 p.m.: Using Data to Power Criminal Justice Reform • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4


9:30 a.m.: Tech at Issue in 2016 Election • JW Marriott, Salon 5

11 a.m.: We the People: Using Tech to Solve Big Challenges • Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D

11 a.m.: Zombie SOPA: A New Threat to the Open Internet (R) • JW Marriott, Salon 5

12:30 p.m.: CDT/Fitbit: Ethics and Privacy in Wearable Research • JW Marriott, Room 201-202

12:30 p.m.: Cryptowars 2.0: Silicon Valley vs Washington • JW Marriott, Salon 5

2 p.m.: Film, Music and TV Music: Who Gets Paid, Why and How? • Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB

3:30 p.m.: Wi-Fi in Jeopardy: Losing the Signal • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

4 p.m.: NextGen Ignition 1.0 Event • Maggie Mae’s

5 p.m.: The Role of Machine Learning in Regulated Industries • Capital One House

5 p.m.: Up Next: The New Faces of Creativity • Google Fiber Space


9:30 a.m.: Be the Next Tony Stark • Hilton, Salon D

9:30 a.m.: Turn Texas Green • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

10 a.m.: IPD Networking Breakfast • Parkside

11 a.m.: The New Battle Over Encryption and How to Survive It • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

11 a.m.: Law and Policy Fundamentals of the Sharing Economy • Austin Convention Center, Room 9ABC

11 a.m.: IPD: The Sharing Economy and the 21st Century Workforce • Parkside

12:30 p.m.: How to Fight ISIS without Breaking the Internet • JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

12:30 p.m.: IPD: Is Your Fridge Judging You? Tales from the IoT • Parkside

12:30 p.m.: Unlocking the Future of Music with Transparency • Hilton, Salon A

2 p.m.: IPD: Making Our Tech Look More Like Our Country • Parkside

3:30 p.m.: IPD: Policies Impacting Drones and the Future of Flight • Parkside


3:30 p.m.: Section 203 Copyright Recapture Terminations • Austin Convention Center, Room 15

3:30 p.m.: The Network Effect: Transparency in the Music Industry • Austin Convention Center, Room 8C

5 p.m.: Legal Aspects of Music Licensing • Austin Convention Center, Room 8C


2 p.m.: Can We Just Play? The Legality of Let’s Play Video • Austin Convention Center, Room 5ABC

12:30 p.m.: The A to Z of Transparency • Austin Convention Center, Room 18D

3:30 p.m.: Content, Copyright and Commerce • Austin Convention Center, Room 17B


11 a.m.: Artist Rights, Fights, Advocacy, Policy and Legislation • Austin Convention Center, Room 9BC

12:30 p.m.: Copyright Reform and Other Underwhelming Developments • Austin Convention Center, Room 9BC

12:30 p.m.: What IS the EU Doing to My Music Rights? • Austin Convention Center, Room 11AB

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