Last Week in Tech Policy #65: Fake News, Real Concerns

(by John Schoppert, Colorado Law 3L)

On Friday, February 16th, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment of 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The announcement serves as the latest development in Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. More concretely, it provides further evidence that Russian operatives played a critical role in disrupting the 2016 election atop near-unanimous consensus among American intelligence agencies.

The indictments track the work of a so-called “troll factory” located in St. Petersburg, which designed and deployed divisive content over social media platforms to encourage collaboration within extreme groups online. More specifically, Russian operatives stole the identities of American citizens, posed as political activists, created posts affiliated with extreme ideologies and paid individuals to locally organize protests and rallies. While many debate over whether the Russians pushed for any one candidate over the other—as opposed to creating chaos more generally—based on internal documents, it appears that disruptive efforts were aimed at supporting the campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and undermining that of Hillary Clinton.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #61: Fort Collins Colorado and the Municipal Broadband Experiment

(by Brett Hildebrand, Colorado Law 3L)

One of the most high-profile recent developments in municipal broadband is happening in Fort Collins, CO, a college town just an hour north of Boulder. The city has voted to become its own internet service provider, overcoming a large campaign by one incumbent ISP. The proposal started as ballot initiative 2B, which passed in November 2017, and then was approved unanimously by the city council in January 2018. The city is currently accepting bids to build out the network and infrastructure necessary to get the service up and running. The approach is outlined in the city’s recently approved the Broadband Strategic Plan.

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Last Week in Tech Policy: #46 Is Taxing Robots Really the Answer?

(by Ben Epel, Colorado Law 2L)

The world is facing a new problem when it comes to innovation: automation and robots increasingly have been replacing individual workers. Robots have moved out of the factories and will soon be coming to a fast food restaurant near you; in 2016, McDonald’s former CEO Ed Rensi said that it is cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who makes $15 an hour bagging French fries. As robots become cheaper and the need for higher wages increases, what will happen to displaced employees?

What would Bill Gates do? A robot tax. Private companies would be taxed whenever the company replaces an individual with a robot. Gates claims that the government should implement this tax to slow down the rate of automation in the United States.  Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Policy: #46 Is Taxing Robots Really the Answer?”

Last Week in Tech Policy #42: @realDonaldTrump: How Twitter is Changing Communications from the White House

(By Connor Boe, Colorado Law 2L)

After it was first announced that President Trump would continue to use his personal Twitter account after taking office, it has become clear that social media is going to become a dominant source of information from the White House. How might social media impact the consistency and clarity of messaging that the American public has come to expect from the executive branch?

Trump first created the @realDonaldTrump account in 2009 and has tweeted roughly 34,000 tweets and accrued over 22 million followers since. Since the election Trump has used Twitter along with other social media platforms to release policy statements, personal opinions, and a surprising number of politically polarizing statements.  This new form of communication from the President creates some interesting dynamics, some possible opportunities, and a multitude of challenges that need to be considered as we enter a new era of American politics.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 37: Wireless Emergency Alerts Improved by Federal Communications Commission

(By Eilif Vanderkolk, Colorado Law 2L)

A Speedy Manhunt

In mid-September, Ahmad Khan Rahami allegedly committed terrorist bombings in Manhattan and the Jersey Shore . Rahami was arrested on the Monday following the bombings, shortly after New York officials had issued a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) naming Rahami as the primary suspect. The alert, received by all smartphones located in the five Boroughs that had not opted out, looked like this:

WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 35: Microtargeting and the Use of Voter Data to Win Elections

(By Sean Doran, Colorado Law 3L)

Both major political parties in the United States currently gather and aggregate massive amounts of data on American voters. Over the last several election cycles, with the advent of advanced data analytics and advances in data storage and processing, campaigns have gained the ability to learn and track a surprising amount of data about voters. This creates a level of precision that allows campaigns to build advanced models for identifying and targeting individual voters to receive (or not receive) individual messages (microtargeting).  Parties are building “political dossiers” on American voters which are some of the largest, unregulated aggregations of personal data that currently exist.

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