Digital and network technologies have transformed the world in many positive ways. But it is increasingly clear that those benefits come with costs, many of which are difficult to measure and even harder to mitigate. Misuse of personal information, manipulation of platforms to influence elections, and failure to extend broadband to underserved areas are a few of the problems facing governments at all levels. Increasingly, policymakers are taking up the challenge of shaping legal solutions to these problems, only to find they lack both the tools and technical expertise to regulate wisely, meaningfully and efficiently.
Policymakers continue to face the task of identifying what entity should regulate emerging digital and network technologies. The Federal Communication Commission addresses telecommunications providers but not information platforms. The Federal Trade Commission’s competition and consumer protection authorities are broad in scope but apply only to information providers not telecommunications providers. State and local attempts to affect communications policy run up against federal regulation, and regulators such as the European Commission affect domestic actors.
Accordingly, there has been a range of debates about the roles and responsibilities of technology companies in addressing emerging issues that impact users. ‘Smart regulation’ encompasses governmental regulation, self-regulation and co-regulation, to deliver effective results in the least burdensome way. Today there is a need to consider how to manage the digital ecosystem across local, state, federal and international jurisdictions.
Given the current technological environment, what goals are appropriate to assure that emerging technologies are used to benefit the populace and do not harm society? How do those goals align among local/state regulation, FTC, FCC, European Commission and others?
This year’s Conference on Communications Policy aims to encourage benefits and examine harms brought on by digital and network technologies now and in the future. What regulatory framework can provide a successful model for future problems as they inevitably appear? Conferees will develop an approach to impede harms from digital and network technologies by creating policies that address user protection, promote consumer choice and competition, and foster access to essential services. They will also seek to create a framework to identify jurisdictional authority and enforcement.
This event is by invitation only.