Quarterly Activities Update
Dear friend of Lincoln:
I’d like to share with you some of our team’s recent activities, including new research from Lincoln Policy, project updates from Lincoln Studio, and other developments across Lincoln Network. As we prepare for next week’s Reboot conference, take a look at what the Lincoln team has been working on over the last few months.
Lincoln Policy saw several high-profile writings and media hits in Q3, attesting to our scholars’ work and impact. As our output continues to grow, we’ve added two new members to the policy team: Jessica Seale, a Nonresident Fellow working on congressional modernization and rules reform, and Alex Dubin, our Endless Frontier Fellow.
Last month, Senior Fellow Geoffrey Cain and Technologist Lars Erik Schönander had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, discussing the growth in Chinese purchases of U.S. farmland and the danger they pose to our food security. The op-ed summarized the findings of Lars’s recent paper, “The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act: Recommendations for Improving Transparency.”
Geoff and Lars received a great response to the op-ed: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Brendan Carr, among many others, shared the piece on Twitter, and Geoff and Lars appeared on Fox News with Laura Ingraham. Geoff was also interviewed on Fox Business and cited in Fortune and other publications. We’re excited to see politicians take action on the issue; for example, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) announced a legislative proposal to “prohibit purchases of agricultural land and land surrounding military bases by foreign countries of concern.”
Several policies that our scholars have supported saw progress within Congress this quarter.
- The House of Representatives passed the Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act, which is based on Head of Policy Dan Lips’s research and my own testimony before the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
- The report accompanying the House’s legislative branch appropriations bill included language directing the Government Accountability Office to tell lawmakers how much implementing its recommendations could save taxpayers, an oversight improvement that Dan has long promoted.
- The Open Technology Fund, which Dan and Senior Fellow Deepesh Chaudhari have studied and recognized as an essential program to counter digital authoritarianism, received a significant funding increase. Dan advocated for increased funding in written testimony to the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
- Lincoln experts have been critical of many of the onerous Democrat-led bills seeking to rein in Big Tech, preferring instead to focus on enforcement of existing laws (as well as novel approaches like interoperability and delegatability). To that end, we have supported increased resources for enforcement agencies, particularly in building staffing capacity with additional economists and technologists. We were therefore pleased with several policy reforms, including additional appropriations this cycle for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, and report language directing increased technical capacity at the FTC. In addition, we were pleased to see the House pass a package including the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act to boost offsetting collections to support enforcement activity and shift the burden off taxpayers. The package also includes the Foreign Merger Subsidy Disclosure Act, which would empower the DOJ and FTC to investigate and disclose foreign investment as part of the merger process (we proposed a stronger version of this idea last year).
- The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress approved a series of modernization recommendations, many of which addressed issues that Nonresident Senior Fellow Reynold Schweickhardt raised in his testimony before the Committee and that Reynold and I discussed in our paper, “Building Digital Capacity in Congress: Recommendations for the House Digital Service.”
Nonresident Senior Fellow Jon Askonas continued his ongoing essay series “Reality: A Post-Mortem” for the New Atlantis, with his essay “How Stewart Made Tucker,” on how “[t]he dream Jon Stewart spent a decade making real is now America’s waking nightmare.”
Senior Fellow Antonio García Martínez wrote about such topics as Web3 and the future of the nation-state on his Substack, “The Pull Request,” and was interviewed by Tech Insider and 18Forty. Geoff considered Ukraine’s cyber-war, hostage diplomacy, and more for his own Substack, “The Burner Files.”
Other publications included:
- Dan Lips and Zach Graves, “Don’t Trust TikTok’s Plan to Secure Americans’ Data,” for the National Security Institute
- Luke Hogg, “The Path to Principled Reform for Monopolies,” in the Deseret News
- Dan Lips, “A Bipartisan Vote for Good Government,” in The Hill
- Luke Hogg, “Focusing on Enforcement to Hold Big Tech Accountable,” in Tech Policy Press
- Jonathon Hauenchild, “Are Email Service Providers Politically Biased Against Republicans?” in The Hill
- Luke Hogg, “Can Antitrust Reform Legislation Get to 60 Votes?” in The Hill
- Jon Askonas, “You Are Already in the Metaverse,” in UnHerd
- Jon Askonas, “Screen Test,” in Return
- Jonathon Hauenchild, “Google’s Decision Not to List Truth Social Raises Political Questions,” in Newsweek
- Richard Reisman, “Contending for Democracy on Social Media and Beyond,” in Tech Policy Press
- Robert Bellafiore, “Keep Politics Out of Money,” in City Journal
- Dan Lips, “A New Approach to Closing the Cyber Workforce Talent Gap,” in The Hill
- Luke Hogg, “Innovation Could Advance Free Expression Online”
- Luke Hogg, “Antitrust Reform After AICOA”
- Jonathon Hauenchild, “FTC’s Unwarranted Fight with Meta Will Harm Consumers”
- Jonathon Hauenchild, “Innovation and Antitrust: Learning from Past Government Antitrust Enforcement Actions”
Research & Testimony
As noted above, Lars published his paper, “The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act: Recommendations for Improving Transparency,” analyzing the trends in foreign entities’ purchases of American agricultural land and proposing reforms to address this national security priority.
On Capitol Hill, Geoff testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for a hearing on “Social Media’s Impact on Homeland Security.” Geoff’s testimony discussed TikTok’s data surveillance capabilities and the social media app’s close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. He was the only expert representing a nonprofit, testifying alongside executives from TikTok, Meta, Twitter, and YouTube. Geoff warned that “Americans face the grave and unprecedented threat of software in our pockets that contains powerful surveillance and data-gathering capabilities. … TikTok is a disaster waiting to happen for our homeland security and the privacy of our citizens.” The hearing received a great write-up in Bloomberg.
We recently selected our third cohort for the Policy Hacker Fellowship. Policy Hackers is a non-resident fellowship program for tech professionals interested in building expertise in the theory and practice of public policy. Over the year-long program, we teach our Fellows the fundamentals of policy entrepreneurship and innovation policy and introduce them to top lobbyists, scholars, public relations specialists, and government policymakers. We’re looking forward to hosting them in Miami next week at Reboot.
As noted above, we brought on Alex Dubin through the Endless Frontier Fellowship, Lincoln’s joint program with the Federation of American Scientists and the Institute for Progress. The Fellowship is a year-long, early-career program designed to train the next generation of policy entrepreneurs working at the forefront of science and innovation. We recently held a dinner convening the Fellows in Washington, D.C. and are excited to see their work over the next year.
It’s been an exciting Q3 for the Lincoln Studio team. Our goal at Studio is to bring technology and creative partnerships to bear in solving high-stakes problems facing our country. We’re pleased to report on the success that our products are seeing.
BIPbounty.org is the first platform for crowdsourcing tax-deductible bug bounties for Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs). Thus far, we’ve received more than 1.3 BTC in donations to build out our prize pool for the BIP-119 bounty program. Our plan is to expand the project in the coming months to support more bounty programs for even more BIPs.
ProjectNickel.com now incorporates school spending data on a per-pupil basis from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. It also includes new data points on the district, state, and national average spending on a per-student basis. Project Nickel’s key spending metrics will allow the public—from parents to journalists to policymakers—to easily see what public schools spend and where that money goes. To explore Project Nickel and learn how much your school spends per student, click here.
Great things have been happening with Schoolahoop, Lincoln’s platform for school choice. Schoolahoop is moving into the state of Wisconsin, thanks to support from the Bradley Foundation. We’re building upon the success of Schoolahoop’s “embeddable” school finder, which allows any organization to offer Schoolahoop’s finder application on its website with just a few lines of code. This new feature will be critical to the application’s long-term success and will be an important tool for supporting any organization interested in the school choice movement.
In August, we welcomed our new Operations Manager, Max Bodach, who has helped the Lincoln team host events across the country with some of our favorite organizations and thinkers.
We held a discussion in San Francisco on “Life, Liberty, and the Right to Shitpost,” where we discussed social media, free speech, and the digital public sphere with Lincoln’s Antonio García Martínez, Murmuration Labs’s Alex Feerst, WIRED’s Gilad Edelman, and the Stanford Internet Observatory’s Renée DiResta and Alex Stamos.
In Washington, D.C., we partnered with the Institute for Progress and Stripe Press for a screening of Stripe’s new film, We Are As Gods, about the life of Stewart Brand, the pioneer of cyberspace, futurism, and modern environmentalism. After the screening, Antonio joined Lincoln’s Jon Askonas and the Institute for Progress’s Caleb Watney to discuss Brand’s contributions to the Silicon Valley ethos and the search for a worthy successor to Brand today.
Last week, I spoke at the American Enterprise Institute’s symposium, “Digital Platforms and American Life: A Conference on Technology and Government.” You can watch the full event here.
Geoff spoke at several events this quarter about TikTok, China, and his book The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey into China’s Terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future, including with the Royal Society for Asian Affairs and the World Affairs Council.
Finally, we’re looking forward to the annual Realignment conference on December 7th in Washington D.C. You can expect more information in the coming weeks.
Saagar Enjeti and Marshall Kosloff have hit three years of hosting their podcast, The Realignment, which is sponsored by Lincoln. They’ve continued to host fascinating conversations in recent months with figures such as AOL co-founder Steve Case, Bloomberg’s Mark Bergen, Foreign Policy’s Jack Detsch, the Wall Street Journal’s Katherine Blunt, Tufts University’s Michael Beckley, and our own Geoff Cain.
Meanwhile, Antonio has been hosting his own conversations at The Pull Request, where he covers technology, culture, and philosophy. On recent episodes, he’s spoken with investor Balaji Srinivasan (author of The Network State), FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, O’Reilly Media Founder Tim O’Reilly (who coined the term “Web 2.0”), crypto reporter Laura Shin, Founders Fund and Miami Tech Week’s Delian Asparouhov, and our own Jon Askonas.
Finally, be on the lookout for a new Lincoln podcast, coming soon.
Thank you for following our work. We appreciate your continued interest in Lincoln Network and our mission and welcome any questions or feedback.
If you’re interested in supporting our mission, you can donate here.
Executive Director, Lincoln Network
Tags: Policy update