WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast with Joe Miller podcast

How to spot and stop misinformation with John Breyault Ep 244 mixdown

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How to spot and stop misinformation with John Breyault (Ep. 244)

How to spot and stop misinformation with John Breyault (Ep. 244) -- John and Joe Miller discuss how consumers themselves can correct misinformation, by weighing in when they see it, rather than relying on tech companies.


John Breyault is a nationally-recognized consumer advocate with more than 15 years of experience championing the rights of consumers and the underserved. At the National Consumers League, he advocates for stronger consumer protections before Congress and federal agencies on issues related to telecommunications, fraud, data security, privacy, aviation, live event ticketing, video gaming, and other consumer concerns. In addition, John manages NCL’s Fraud.org and #DataInsecurity project campaigns. John has testified multiple times before Congress and federal agencies and is a regular contributor to national press outlets including the Washington Post, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Prior to NCL, John was the director of research at Amplify Public Affairs, where hs supported clients in the telecommunications, energy, labor, and environmental sectors. Earlier in his career, John worked at Sprint and at the American Center for Polich Culture in Washington, DC. A lifelong Virginian, John is a graduate of George Mason University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a minor in French.


National Consumers League


Joe: Hey everybody. Congress can’t get anything done. Now the state Attorneys General are hamstrung by corruption and politics, as they try to execute a serious of actions against big tech. 

Real news outlets believe the Department of Justice and various state coalitions are planning to sue Google. The DOJ is expected to focus on Google’s search dominance. The state coalitions are working together with the DOJ, but then again, they’re no,t because many of them believe the DOJ’s moving too slowly. Congress has subpoenaed Facebook, Google, and Twitter. But, of course, Republicans and Democrats rarely see eye-to-eye.

But now we’ve got problems in Texas -- with their Attorney General, Ken Paxton, facing bribery charges -- accusations his own Deputies alleged in a whistleblower complaint. It’s a litany of allegations claiming that:

  • He received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts for his own legal defense fund. What did the people who gave those donations expect in exchange? They couldn’t have given them out of the goodness of their hearts. In that case, why not give it to poor people? Nevertheless, Paxton says these donors are family friends.
  • His own wife, a state senator, introduced a bill to expand his power to exempt individuals from state regulations, which would have set him up to return favors to people.
  • He unilaterally decided that Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s ban of elective procedures due to COVID-19 should apply to abortions. This went into effect immediately, forcing women to cancel their appointments, pending the outcome of litigation arising from this.

The list goes on and on

So Democratic Attorneys General are calling for Paxton to step down, saying it threatens their multistate investigation into Google’s market practices. Meanwhile, sources expect the DOJ to file a lawsuit in a few days. Why that’s public, I have no idea. You’d think it’d be attorney-privileged. But, frankly, following ethical guidelines doesn’t appear to be part of Bill Barr’s skill set.

To make matters worse, you have a dozen or so other Republican Attorneys General facing similar corruption problems. 

Eliot Spitzer must feel vindicated for his little prostitution situation back in 2008. But that was 12 years ago!  

Let’s move on, let’s move on. 

John McAfee, the namesake of the antivirus software, was arrested in Spain Monday. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges McAfee took $23 million from people to invest in cryptocurrencies he was being paid to promote. But the officials note this is a personal lawsuit, not one against McAfee, the company.

So we’re in this place where politics are holding up anything meaningful when it comes to antitrust enforcement against big tech companies. We’ll see what the DOJ lawsuit says. But, without even looking at it, I anticipate a number of free speech problems that will have to be overcome, and much of the case law has been written by Conservatives.

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    Lawful But Awful: The Complexities of Online Content Moderation with Elizabeth Banker (Ep. 254)


    Across the US, many states are considering laws that prohibit online platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. from enforcing rules against what we call “lawful but awful” online content. Lawmakers are motivated to do this because they think laws are needed to prevent social media platforms from censoring conservative viewpoints. As with many laws though, the unintended consequences of these laws could prove to be much more harmful than the behavior the law was intended to regulate. To help us navigate the craziness of what would and would not be allowed if these laws go through, our guest today is Elizabeth Banker, VP of Legal Advocacy for Chamber of Progress. Chamber of Progress is also a sponsor of this show. Elizabeth Banker is Vice President of Legal Advocacy for Chamber of Progress. Elizabeth brings twenty-five years of in-house, law firm, and trade association experience on intermediary liability, Section 230, and online safety. Most recently, Elizabeth was Deputy General Counsel at Internet Association where she directed policy on consumer privacy and content moderation. While at IA, Elizabeth conducted a review of 500 Section 230 decisions and testified twice before the Senate on efforts to reform Section 230. Elizabeth has first-hand experience responding to the challenges that face online services as a veteran of both Twitter and Yahoo!. She was Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Law Enforcement, Security and Safety at Yahoo! Inc. for more than a decade.  More recently she was Senior Director and Associate General Counsel for Global Law Enforcement and Safety at Twitter.  Elizabeth spent five years as a shareholder at ZwillGen, a boutique law firm focused on privacy and security in Washington, D.C. Elizabeth began her career in government with the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection during the Clinton Administration. Hate Speech and Bully Speech Would Stand Many of the laws being proposed would actually tie the hands of social media platforms on some of the regulations that they currently have in place about harassment, bullying, and threatening behavior. These are all types of content that no social media platform wants to see on their platforms. Currently, the social media providers have rules and regulations that they currently enforce across their platforms to keep users free from hateful, bullying speech and harassment.  These new laws would add many complexities to enforcing the rules and it will open them up to the constant appeals process for users who have their content removed, etc.  100 Bills and Counting So far in 2021, we have seen over 100 bills proposed in state legislatures all across the nation. There will probably be many more before the end of the year. The Amicus Brief that Chamber of Progress files was a way to explain to the court the real world implications of these laws, should they be passed and hold up to the legal battles ensuing. Objections Being Filed The TX law that is currently under consideration was one in which we filed our objections in the amicus brief.  We believe that all platforms should be able to moderate harmful content in order for consumers to be healthy and safe on their platforms. Additionally, these platforms should be inclusive and widely accessible. Here are the main objections we have to this TX law: It prevents platforms from removing content that is not illegal, such as harassment, hate speech, misinformation, suicide, etc. The law undermines the current content moderation efforts by forcing platforms to basically publish a playbook about how they detect illegal content. This means child abusers, terrorists, spammers, identity thieves, and other bad actors would have enough information to evade detection. So this will lead to more illegal content online. This law places an undue burden on content moderation. If content is removed, the platform has to go through lots of additional steps that will discourage the company from actually removing content that should actually be taken down. So again, the net effect is that consumers will have more harmful content to wade through in order to enjoy a platform. Should Parents Be Worried? The TX law actually prevents platforms from taking the content moderation steps that they currently take. When it comes to content directed at children, there are many areas that fall under the awful, but lawful heading that would probably be left on the platform. For example, content glorifying suicide, or self-harm, or promoting eating disorders, etc. are all types of content that platforms would no longer be able to regulate. Cyber bullying is another area where the current protections would be removed. So, school fight videos that are normally removed, would still be accessible. Non-consensual intimate images, called revenge porn would not be taken down, as well as other types of harassment that could be very harmful to teens.  So parents have every right to be worried, especially if you’ve already been through dealing with these sorts of problems, because under this law, they will only worsen. Misconceptions About Free Speech The First Amendment does not apply to private companies. It only prohibits government regulation and restriction. Each social media platform has their own First Amendment concerns about what they allow on their platforms too. The argument that social media platforms are violating a person’s right to free speech just doesn’t hold water. Misunderstanding Section 230 Section 230 plays a critical role in allowing the platforms to remove harmful content without being sued. The platforms rely on this protection.  Recently a Russian foreign influence campaign sued because their content was removed. The lawsuit failed because of Section 230.  It’s important for us to fight to keep both the First Amendment and the Section 230 protections for content moderation strong in order to keep consumers safe while they enjoy these online platforms. Resources: Progress Chamber Website Follow Elizabeth on Twitter: @elizabethbanker
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    Privacy Legislation at the State Level with Justin Brookman (Ep. 253)


    With Federal privacy regulation leaving much to be desired, it has fallen to individual states to make up the gap and establish their own privacy rules. This approach is problematic for many reasons, which is why Justin Brookman is on the show today. Correction: The name of the individual Joe referenced in the intro is Alex Stamos, from the Stanford Internet Observatory, not John Stamos as was stated in the episode Consumer Privacy Has a Home a Consumer Reports Justin Brookman is with Consumer Reports where he's the head of tech policy. He wrote an excellent paper several months ago on state privacy regulation (you can read it here). Justin is the Director, Consumer Privacy and Technology Policy, for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. In this new privacy role at CR, he will help the organization continue its groundbreaking work to shape the digital marketplace in a way that empowers consumers and puts their data privacy and security needs first. This work includes using CR research to identify critical gaps in consumer privacy, data security, and technology law and policy, as well as building strategies to expand the use and influence of the new Digital Standard  being developed by CR and partner organizations to evaluate the privacy and security of products and services. The Politics of Privacy If you keep up with the news of the day, you know that right now, everybody has had it with big tech companies, like Facebook. Consumers, politicians, the media and other businesses have been sounding off about the pitfalls of having big tech intrude into our lives. It’s brought about a lot of policy proposals, but no comprehensive legislation that is likely to pass at the Federal level. This gaping hole has been filled in by the privacy legislation that is popping up at the state level. Legislation State By State As is often the case, California is one of the first states to come forward with privacy legislation of its own. The California Consumer Privacy Act has already been amended to make the legislation stronger than the original bill. Virginia also came forward with a bill, and Colorado quickly followed suit. We’re also currently seeing legislative battles in New York and Washington State over privacy, and the proposals are really all over the place. The Federal Role of Privacy The Federal government has basically taken a hands off approach to the privacy legislation popping up around the country. Because all of the privacy laws ultimately center around the first amendment, the Federal government is reluctant to play a heavy handed role in the laws that are cropping up throughout the country. There have been some challenges to legislation around the first amendment and some have been rejected, as the judiciary is reluctant to regulate companies. Consumers vs. Businesses vs. Government Consumers don’t want Facebook or their ISPs to track their every move and collect data on them. At the same time, the government doesn’t want private data collected to be in the hands of these companies and outside of the reach of government agencies.  Many states are willing to take a more aggressive approach to privacy in light of the massive data breaches that consumers have experienced in recent years. Where are we now While it’s clear that aggressive action needs to be taken to prevent data breaches, it’s going to take regulatory agencies some time to catch up because Federal legislation moves so slowly.  Much of the existing legislation is unwieldy for the consumer. Whether it relies on a physical opt out by consumers or it goes state by state, it’s just not that easy for consumers to actually protect themselves with the current regulations. State legislatures do not have the staff or the expertise to create the kind of legislation that is needed for consumers to truly be protected. We need to find a balance between what can effectively protect consumers, but also allow businesses to function in a way that doesn’t put consumers at risk. Resources: Connect with Justin on Twitter @justinbrookman
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    Protecting Your Childs Data in School with Cody Venzke Ep 252 mixdown


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    David Johns on Trump's Arsonous Section 230 Plan to Roast Black Voices


      Bio David J. Johns is known for his passion, public policy acumen and fierce advocacy for youth. He is an enthusiast about equity—leveraging his time, talent and treasures to address the needs of individuals and communities often neglected and ignored. A recognized thought leader and social justice champion, David’s career has focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black people. On September 1, 2017, David Johns began his next life chapter as the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)—a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. NBJC’s mission is to end racism, homophobia, and LGBTQ bias and stigma. In 2013, Johns was appointed as the first executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Initiative) by President Barack H. Obama and served until the last day of the Obama Administration in January, 2017. The Initiative worked across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education and workforce development programs for African American students of all ages. Under his leadership, the Initiative studied the experiences of students—leveraged a partnership with Johnson Publishing Company (EBONY Magazine) to produce a series of African American Educational Summits (AfAmEdSummits) at college campuses throughout the country, where the only experts who sat in front of the White House seal were students as young as elementary school. The recommendations that students made at AfAmEdSummits have been used to improve policies, programs and practices, including curriculum, designed to ensure that students thrive—both in school and in life. Prior to his White House appointment, Johns was a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under the leadership of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Before working for the Senate HELP Committee, Johns served under the leadership of the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Johns also was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in the office of Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY). Johns has worked on issues affecting low-income and minority students, neglected youth, early childhood education, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). His research as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow served as a catalyst to identify, disrupt and supplant negative perceptions of black males—both within academia and society. Johns is committed to volunteer services and maintains an active commitment to improve literacy among adolescent minority males. Johns has been featured as an influential politico and advocate by several publications and outlets, including TheRoot.com, NBC, EBONY and The Washington Post.  Johns is a prominent strategist who offers commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, EducationPost and TV One. David is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in sociology and education policy at Columbia University. Johns obtained a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude while simultaneously teaching elementary school in New York City. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2004 with a triple major in English, creative writing and African American studies. Johns was named to the Root100 in both 2013 and 2014, selected as a member of the Ebony Power 100 in 2015, and received an early career award from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2016. He has also served as an adjunct professor at American University. Resources National Black Justice Coalition Johns, D., 2020. Don’t Make the Internet Unwelcome to Diverse Communities, Especially Black and Latinx LGBTQ People. [Blog] Morning Consult, Available at: [Accessed 11 November 2020]. Related Episodes ‘Social media policy: It's the moderation, stupid!’ with Chris Lewis Ep. 232(Opens in a new browser tab) Intro JOE: Hey everybody. So here we are on the other side of the election. They're still counting the votes. But this thing looks over. Even in the face of several lawsuits, President Trump has brought to challenge the election results, Biden's win is only becoming more decisive. The president-elect is on track to win by over 5 million popular votes, bringing his total to more than 80 million, more than any presidential candidate in history, and he still has another 75 likely electoral votes outstanding in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. So ... we're pretty much done here.  Hit me up. (866) 482-3898. Leave your thoughts! Maybe we’ll use them in a future episode. (866) 482-3898. What tech policy issues should the Biden administration and Congress focus on? Let us know. (866) 482-3898. Save it to your contacts. So, you know, I don’t have to say the number over and over again. Like a ShamWow commercial. So that brings us to -- what will the next 4+ years look like in terms of tech policy? Obviously, China will be a major issue, and particularly Huawei. It will be interesting to see whether the Biden administration continues its ban of U.S. companies doing any business with Huawei whatsoever. Key allies haven’t supported the Trump administration’s ban, citing their reliance on Huawei technology. Outside of technology, what are the chances of war with China over the coming years, as China has continued to object to the U.S. presence in the South China Sea? What happens there directly affects the tech markets--war would certainly have a major impact on the supply chain. So that is definitely something to watch out for. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that platforms aren’t legally responsible for the content their users post, has been an issue, as you know, with the Trump administration attempting to get the FCC--an independent agency, no less -- to use Section 230 to rein in what some conservatives see as an “anti-conservative bias” on platforms like Twitter. I’d be very surprised to see the Biden administration continue down that path.  It’s just a huge waste of administrative, legislative and judicial resources for a policy that, I believe, would ultimately lose on First Amendment grounds once it hit the Supreme Court. Republicans and some Democrats could certainly purse reforming Section 230. But we’ll have to see if Josh Hawley is as passionate about illegal sexual content, and sex trafficking, as he says he is, and pursues Section 230 as vigorously as he has up until now.  And another issue, I think, that we haven’t heard a lot about but probably should since we saw growth among Latino and Black working-class voters voting for Trumpism, is the Future of Work. What does the future of work look like for Americans in a tech sector that hasn’t done anything meaningful, other than releasing diversity reports, to improve diversity and inclusion -- nothing observable, I should say, because we can’t see everything that’s going on--all we see are the numbers which are pretty sad--they don’t look anything like the U.S. population. And you have companies like IBM already lobbying the Biden administration to fill the government skills gap by working with these same companies. The same companies hiring from the same 5 schools. We have over 5,000 colleges in the United States, many of which offer amazing programs -- since they’re accredited, right? -- they have amazing programs but don’t have the endowments--they don’t have the marketing budgets--for various, historical reasons we don’t need to get into. We hear a lot about recruiting from HBCUs. That’s great! But we have many many state and local colleges with incredible diversity -- Minority Serving Institutions -- with Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Native American students -- that don’t get much advocacy at all. Why is that?  So those are just 3 areas I’m certainly going to be watching. There are many, many others, we’ll get to them on future episodes …  Let’s get into Section 230 -- David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, and someone I greatly, and many, greatly respect and admire this man for his sheer intellect and incredible interpersonal skills. He is an enthusiast about equity—leveraging his time, talent, and treasures to address the needs of individuals and communities often neglected and ignored. A recognized thought leader and social justice champion, David’s career has focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black people. David Johns.
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    Alejandro Roark on Latinos, Section 230 and Access (Ep.247)


      Bio Alejandro Roark is Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) in Washington, DC. HTTP is a national non-profit that convenes an intersectional coalition of national Latino organizations committed to promoting access, adoption, and the full utilization of technology and telecommunications resources by the Hispanic/Latino/a community in the United States. HTTP works at the intersection of ethics, technology, and public policy to educate, advocate, and serve as a national voice for Hispanics/Latinos in technology and telecommunications policy.   As Executive Director, Alejandro leads a strategic planning process with HTTP member organizations to set the national Latino tech policy agenda that creates opportunities for national, and local advocates to engage with Congress and the Administration to advocate for inclusive public policy that promotes civil rights protections, equitable access to broadband, and increased diversity in media and tech workforces. HTTP works to extend Latino priorities in the following policy areas: broadband adoption, spectrum allocation, consumer privacy, open internet, intellectual property, and diversity & Inclusion within the technology workforce.   With nearly a decade of experience working at the local, state and national level, Alejandro has dedicated his career to the elimination of structural inequities across LGBT inclusion, racial and social justice, and civil rights policies, through community power building, story-telling, equitable resource allocation and by creating pathways for a more diverse workforce. Alejandro applies his skills and leadership to the examination of the ethical and social dimensions of technological change including the attention economy, data privacy, algorithmic decision-making, and artificial intelligence to ensure that Latino priorities are integrated into the policy-making process. Prior to his position with HTTP, Alejandro oversaw the tech policy portfolio which included the planning and execution of its annual Latinx Tech Summit, for LULAC National, the nation's oldest nation’s country’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization. In addition to leading the corporate social responsibility team where he worked with fortune 500 companies to develop, implement, and scale nationwide community programs and coordinating LULAC’s Corporate Alliance. Alejandro has also served as the founding executive director for Utah’s first and only Mexican Cultural Arts organization, as well as the associate director for Equality Utah where he managed the region’s public relations systems, community outreach programming, and state, local, and federal advocacy work.   Resources   Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership   Intro   Hey everyone. Here we are on Election Day as purveyors of misinformation and intimidation use both traditional and digital tactics to keep voters away from the polls. The backdrop to this, of course, has been the Supreme Court’s roll-back of the Voting Rights Act, most notably its Shelby County v. Holder decision, in which it essentially neutered the VRA’s preclearance requirement -- the provision requiring state and local governments to get federal approval before making changes to their voting laws and practices.    Section 5 is still there. The Court just ruled the 40-year-old data Congress relied on to decide which states are subject to the requirement were too-old.   Then, as Laurence Tribe wrote in Lawfare last week,  we have the current, conservative majority of the Supreme Court, with the exception of Chief Justice Roberts, suggesting state legislatures should be the highest authority in each state when it comes to each state’s voting laws, even above the highest state court charged with enforcing each state’s constitution.    Social media has not played as dominant a role in shaping public opinion as it did in 2016. But that doesn’t mean state actors and others aren’t still using it. And the Washington Post reports bad actors are using robocalls, in Michigan specifically, to explicitly tell people to stay away from the polls. The FCC empowered carriers to block robocalls before they reach consumers. But apparently they dropped the ball here.    The New York Times warned the public this morning about potential rigged voting machines, tossed ballots, and intimidating federal agents, Yes, this is 2020. And yes, we are still fighting this battle. In this election though the electorate cast their votes by mail in record numbers. So we are seeing this shift across the political spectrum to more analog tacticseither to suppress votes or to preserve them.   ---   We’ll see what happens. I’m tuning it out--at least until tomorrow. I don’t think I’m even gonna watch the results come in. I’ll wake up tomorrow and see what happened.   But my guest today is Alejandro Roark, Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Parntership here in Washington. Previously, Alejandro led LULAC’s tech portfolio. He was also the founding Executive Director of the state of Utah’s first and only Mexican Culutral Arts Organization. Alejandro Roark!
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    Richard Fowler on Misinformation in Black America Ep 246 mixdown


    Bio   Richard Fowler is Host of radio’s nationally syndicated The Richard Fowler Show, Democratic Messaging Expert, and Millennial Engagement Specialist, Richard Fowler is an advocate for youth and social policy reform.  Currently, Richard works with teachers, nurses, and higher education faculty to make sure their voices matters in the decision making process taking place at city halls, state capitols, and our nation’s Capital. Fowler is regularly featured on prime-time cable news discussing a wide variety of issues, including the 2016 election, social justice, race, and news of the day.   Most frequently, he appears on The Kelly File and Hardball  on MSNBC, in addition to other major international and outlets across the country. He was a 2012 Democratic National Convention Delegate. The Richard Fowler Show can be heard in over 9.1 million homes internationally and is a partner in the TYT Network, a multi-channel network on YouTube specializing in political talk shows. Richard has been a regular fill-in anchor on Current TV and RTTV and currently serves as the official guest host for The Full Court Press with Bill Press. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Richard got his first taste of politics at a young age when he went with his mother into the voting booth to pull the lever for Bill Clinton for President. After that auspicious start, Richard began his involvement in politics. As a young man he volunteered on numerous local races in Florida, including former Attorney General Janet Reno’s gubernatorial campaign. From registering and organizing more than a thousand young voters in Florida for the NAACP — to being a campaign manager in the District of Columbia, Richard has used his experience to advise youth, minority and female candidates. Richard has been a featured speaker at the Center For American Progress, National Council of La Raza’s National Conference, College Democrats of America, United States Student Association, the American Councils on International Education, the Young Democrats of America, over twenty different foreign delegations, and numerous colleges and universities. He has trained nearly 2,000 young people about the importance of image and messaging in the political arena. Richard is also the co-founder of Richard Media Company, a boutique messaging, public relations, and production outfit located in Washington, DC.  Outside of his work in media, Richard was the co-founder and director of PHOENIX FREEDOM PAC, a transportation solutions political action committee. Richard Formerly served as the Advocacy Director of The Young Democrats of America and as the Executive Director of Generational Alliance, a progressive youth engagement organization. He sat on the Board of Directors for Amara Legal Center and now is a National Executive Board Member for Pride at Work. He is also the former Executive Director of the Virginia Young Democrats Annual Conference, a Fellow at the New Leaders Council, and a former Fellow at the Center for Progressive Leadership. Richard earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University. Resources The Richard Fowler Show Intro A coalition of the United States Department of Justice and 11 mostly red states announced Tuesday that they filed a new antitrust lawsuit against Google because of its search dominance. The complaint accuses Google of engaging in a number of anti-competitive practices. One of them is Apple’s exclusive relationship with Google that allows Google’s search engine to be the default in Apple’s Safari browser. The Wall Street Journal reports that some estimates place the cost to Google for this relationship at $11 billion, comprising some 20% of Apple’s total revenue.   A key piece of evidence here was a 2018 email from a top Apple executive telling his counterpart at Google, “Our vision is that we work as if we are one company.” Neither company has released the name of the executive who sent that email. But I am just beside myself trying to figure out, and I’m really trying to empathize with the person who sent it, why, out of all of the things they could have put in writing, why they wrote the absolute worst thing they could possibly think of.    This was a high-level interaction with a competitor in which anticompetitive pitfalls were blatantly obvious. The first thing on this executive’s mind should have been to avoid an appearance of impropriety at all costs, especially given the discourse here in Washington about both companies’ market dominance and bipartisan support for regulating tech companies.   These executives are supposed to be the best and brightest, right? But this is just basic antitrust law and policy. A high-ranking executive in a company like Apple should know it. It’s just basic. It’s not hard.   I cannot help but wonder if the executive here was a person of color. Forgive me if I sound harsh. But companies like Apple use their purported inability to find qualified diverse talent as an excuse to justify the sheer lack of diversity in their executive ranks. I really want to know how someone, who is supposed to be so superior to everyone else who competed for their job, could make such a dumb mistake.    I’m not saying this person should be fired. Everyone makes mistakes. But for a company that seems so invested in meritocracy, I, like many of you, can’t help but wonder 1) was this executive a person of color, and; 2) how did the company respond to this? Are they treating it as an isolated, forgivable incident, or, are they are globalizing it, making a value judgment about the executive’s overall intelligence?   I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not even saying it’s healthy to think this way. I’m just saying it crossed my mind.    And I won’t even get into Jeffrey Toobin.   
  • WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast with Joe Miller podcast

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