Consumer protection and viral videos: Will the FTC prune Vine?

One of the difficulties of regulating in cyberspace is the need to remain flexible to meet new innovations and ever-changing market conditions. Regulators must determine how to achieve important public policy objectives without unduly inhibiting the evolution of new products and services. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has been walking this fine line for over a decade with mixed results, may soon face this challenge again; innovative advertising could force it to bring its stodgy old-school consumer protection laws to the edgy, ironic teenage world of Vine. The commission has long regulated advertising disclosures, as part of its mandate to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive trade practices, and has developed an intricate web of reporting requirements. While paid product placement alone need not be disclosed (except in television or radio programs pursuant to Federal Communications Commission rules), disclosure may be required if a message makes an objective claim about the product that could be misleading without clarification.
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New Patent Office director set to take helm at challenging time

Michelle Lee must be a glutton for punishment.

The White House’s nominee to head the United States Patent and Trademark Office – and currently the acting director of the agency – will have her work cut out for her once officially confirmed, as the Patent Office finds itself afloat on a rough sea roiled by political and judicial currents.

Yet amidst it all, Acting Director Lee has steered the ship with aplomb, grace, and...

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Tech policy 2015: The year ahead

Tomorrow afternoon, AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy will convene a half-day conference looking ahead at tech policy in 2015. The event will feature a keynote by Senator John Thune, as well as several expert panels. Participants will address a broad array of policy questions, ranging from the future of net neutrality, communications policy and municipal broadband, to cybersecurity and Internet governance. This post provides a run-down on how these policy issues have developed over the past year, providing you with the background you need to follow along and participate in tomorrow’s discussion.
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Cybersecurity and commerce: It’s not a zero-sum game

While estimates of the economic losses from cybercrime vary widely, conservative approximations state that such hacking costs the global economy more than $375 billion annually. Much of this activity begins and ends in the United States; however, Chinese and Russian hackers also pose a serious threat. Protecting data from threats on a global scale as it flows across the Internet’s infrastructure is one of the most important challenges network architects face. Smart Internet infrastructure calls for both offensive and defensive strategic plans to protect businesses and citizens from the potential damage these cyber attacks can cause. The president’s cyber initiatives, announced in advance of his State of the Union address, called for changes in current law around individual data breaches and corporate information sharing.