Policy Update for January-March 2021

The following post was originally set as an email newsletter to our friends and supporters.


Re: Lincoln Policy Team Activities for Q1

Dear friend of Lincoln:

This year has ushered in a new administration, a new Congress, new policy and technology debates, and a new post-pandemic normal. At Lincoln Network, we have embraced the theme of “new” for this year as well with a new policy program, new research, a new podcast season, and more. In this update, I’m going to provide an overview of our new policy work so far in the busy year 2021.

But first, something that has not changed: Lincoln Network remains committed to transparency and independence, and a major way we’ve demonstrated that in recent years is by publishing an annual report of our funding breakdown. You can review our funding breakdown for 2020 here.

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of our work.

Research

The ongoing debates over digital market competition raise questions about issues of “interoperability,” which I provide an in-depth primer about in a blog article titled, “The Promise and Perils of Interoperability.” I write:

Today the pendulum seems to be rapidly swinging away from the philosophy of the Internet pioneers. We’re witnessing the rise of a digital world increasingly dominated by walled gardens and closed platforms….the architectural shift to centralized platforms has created attractive choke points for states to exert control, as well as pressure points for narrowing the scope of acceptable speech, behavior, and economic activity. In the US, this manifests as services deplatforming Parler or President Trump. In countries like Russia, China, or Thailand, you can get deplatformed (or imprisoned) for criticizing the government.

Instead of one-size-fits-all policies from central authorities—what if we moved the digital world back towards being more open and decentralized? That’s the vision of the future motivating many champions of interoperability.

I also participated in a discussion forum published by Issues in Science and Technology on the topic of “Returning Science and Technology Assessment to Congress.” In my response, I review the useful lessons of the Government Accountability Office’s Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team.

With renewed debate over net neutrality, we revisit the question of the appropriate framework for broadband regulation in a new policy brief by Joe Kane, which you can view here.

Commentary

Serious questions surrounding “deplatforming” were in focus after a series of conflicts between app makers and app store operators (principally Apple and Google). In Techdirt, I address some of the proposed policy solutions, arguing that “regulatory humility” is warranted. My article says in part:

With scrutiny of the tech industry at an all time high, the otherwise niche issue of app store policies has become an increasingly salient part of the broader debate over digital market competition, raising the specter of new government regulation. But what is the optimal level of openness in a competitive app ecosystem, and how does public policy help achieve it? These are harder questions to answer than they seem—involving deep technical, economic, and legal issues.

Some of our other writings include:

Letters & Testimony

In March, I submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress arguing in favor of increasing investments across different parts of the legislative branch in order to restore and strengthen it. You can read my testimony here.

Our team has also sent the following letters to various Congressional committees and agencies so far this year:

The Realignment Podcast

We celebrated our 100th episode of The Realignment podcast earlier this year! Thank you for listening, downloading, and rating the show. Catch up on recent episodes featuring guests such as Balaji Srinivasan, Mike Solana, Lee Drutman, Erik Torenberg, Michael Lind, and more, when you subscribe to The Realignment on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Events

In February, we hosted a digital fireside chat with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Nathan Simington and Lincoln outside counsel Joel Thayer. We covered FCC’s agenda on broadband buildout and how the FCC’s policies will develop in the coming months with this new administration. Learn more about the event here.

In January, we hosted a virtual panel discussion called, The Future of U.S. Semiconductor Policy: Answering the China Chip Challenge. Technology and national security experts came together to examine recent policy developments, such as increasing federal R&D support and initiating new trade controls and other actions to prevent technology transfer to China, and to offer recommendations for 2021 and beyond. Watch the discussion here.

View all of our upcoming and past events here.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to review this update. Our work would not be possible without your encouragement and support. We are very excited and hopeful for what the rest of 2021 holds and remain committed to keeping you informed of our efforts. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please feel free to email me directly. 

Sincerely,

Zach Graves
Head of Policy, Lincoln Network
zach.graves@joinlincoln.org

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Dan Lips
VP for National Security and Oversight
Garret Johnson Lincoln Executive Director
Garrett Johnson
Executive Director
Zach Graves
Head of Policy
Sean Roberts
Senior Advisor
J. Scott McKaig
CFO and General Counsel
Arthur Rizer
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