The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
The 116th Congress will be confronted with the decision of if and how to legislate and/or regulate technology platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. In response to requests from numerous Congressional members and their staffs, the Shorenstein Center and the Belfer Center’s Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) Project will host a workshop focused on policy approaches to tech platforms. The session is designed to provide congressional staffers from key committees (Commerce and Judiciary) with the context and background necessary to knowledgeably grapple with the question of how policymakers should address the challenges of big tech platforms, like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Staffers should come away from the briefing prepared to inform their offices about various policy options available to Congress, drawing on examples from past antitrust legislation, regulation of the telecom sector and early Silicon Valley industries, and current efforts of industry self-regulation.
9:30 Registration and Breakfast
10:00 Welcome and Goals for the Day - Laura Manley, Director, Technology and Public Purpose Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
10:10 Opening Remarks - Ash Carter, Director, Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 25th United States Secretary of Defense
10:30 Panel Discussion – What Do We Do? Options for Addressing Platform Concerns and Historical Learned Lessons
- Moderator: Nicco Mele, Director, Shorenstein Center
- Toni Bush, former Senate Commerce Senior Counsel
- Mignon Clyburn, former FCC Commissioner
- Dipayan Ghosh, Pozen Fellow at Shorenstein Center
- Gene Kimmelman, former Chief Counsel, Justice Department’s Antitrust Division
- Hong Qu, Program Director for Technology, Shorenstein Center
- Tom Wheeler, former FCC Chairman
11:45 What do Members need to know? Discussion Groups - Participants break up into assigned small groups to reflect on the panel presentation and devise questions that must be answered to help staff prepare to help develop policy options
that can address industry and societal concerns.
1:30 Discussion Report Outs and Expert Q&A - A rapporteur from each facilitated group will summarize key takeaways from the afternoon sessions and pose questions to the panel of experts based on the discussion.
The Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs works to ensure that emerging technologies are developed and managed in ways that serve the overall public good. Led by Belfer Center Director, MIT Innovation Fellow, and former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, the TAPP Project leverages a network of experts from Harvard University, MIT, and Stanford, along with leaders in technology, government, and business. For more information, visit: www.BelferCenter.org/TAPP
The Platform Accountability Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy aims to address issues at the intersection of internet policy and economic regulation through academic research and expert analysis. The world’s leading internet firms currently operate in a largely unregulated environment. While the American disinclination to industry regulation is premised on a longstanding and well-intentioned preference to let the industry innovate and allow the open market to efficiently serve consumers, some things have gotten out of hand. A handful of large digital platforms dominate the online world and make decisions on a range of issues that affect the public sphere—including disinformation, hate speech, and extremist content. New thinking is required to understand the business model that sits behind the veneer of the internet and prompts these negative externalities—and to develop new ideas for the regulatory policies that can address those public harms. For more information, visit: www.ShorensteinCenter.org