Gus Hurwitz

Gus Hurwitz

Gus Hurwitz, a visiting fellow at AEI's Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy, is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law, where he teaches telecommunications law, cyber law, law and economics, and other regulation-related subjects. His research builds on his background in law, technology, and economics to consider the interface between law and technology and the role of regulation in high-tech industries. He has a particular expertise in telecommunications law and technology. He was previously the inaugural research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition, and before that was a visiting assistant professor at George Mason University Law School. He previously spent several years as a trial attorney with the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s Telecommunications and Media Enforcement Section. Hurwitz has a background in technology and worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. During this time, his work was recognized with professional awards from organizations such as the Federal Laboratory Consortium, R&D Magazine, Los Alamos National Lab, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California. In addition, he held an Internet2 Land Speed world record with the Guinness Book of World Records. Hurwitz is a co-blogger at Truth on the Market.

What the FCC can learn from the Volkswagen scandal

I had promised’s Editors that I would write this week about regulation and the use of technology in education. The Editors were excited. Earlier this week, Bronwyn Howell wrote about the recent OECD study showing that spending on technology to support education does not necessarily benefit, and can actually harm, education outcomes. And the next day Ari Rabkin wrote about the challenges of defining what we mean when we say “computer science” should be added to primary school curricula. Both Bronwyn’s and Ari’s discussions offer examples of policy charging ahead of evidence – with the potential consequence of both wasting money or even undermining the intended policy goals.
FTC data security by Felix Lipov /

In Wyndham, the FTC won a battle but perhaps lost its data security war

Tech Policy Daily readers are likely aware that sometimes a seemingly big loss (or win) in court can prove to be a major win (or loss) in practice. This is what happened in Verizon, where the DC Circuit rejected the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet rules but upheld the FCC’s underlying legal authority. On Monday, the Third Circuit released a similarly important opinion relating to the FTC’s authority to regulate data security practices. In this case the court has given the FTC what seems to be a win. But in doing so the court rejected the agency’s basic approach to data security regulation, ignoring the FTC’s efforts over the past 15 years to regulate data security practices. This is a major blow to the FTC, which has steadfastly argued – including in this case – that it has developed its own law of data security that should apply in cases such as this.

Will the FTC’s UMC policy statement save the commission from itself?

Last Thursday, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced a new policy clarifying the commission’s use of its authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act to take action against “unfair methods of competition” (UMC). This policy statement represents a major win for both Commissioner Wright – who has pushed for the commission to adopt such a statement since joining the commission – and for the American consumer, who will benefit from the increased stability that this policy creates. It also represents an abrupt about-face for the chairwoman, who has steadfastly resisted providing such guidance (or otherwise accepting any limits on the commission’s authority) – an about-face almost certainly prompted by recent congressional concern.
Playing favorites by

The price of progress: Rent seeking in the FCC’s approval of the AT&T/DirecTV merger

Operating under its broad public interest standard, the FCC is largely free to ask firms for an almost unlimited range of concessions in exchange for favorable outcomes in matters before the commission. Such rent-seeking is business as usual. In the merger context, the only practical limit on what the commission can request is however much the parties are willing to give up before walking away from the deal. Past examples have included requiring firms to make “voluntary” donations to support public safety initiatives, agreeing to abide by net neutrality requirements that had been rejected by the courts, offering wholesale discounts to competitors, repatriating outsourced jobs, offering discounted accesses to disadvantaged communities, and more. While these conditions often represent laudable goals, they often are unrelated to the matter before the commission. And they frequently impose obligations upon the transaction that are otherwise outside of the commission’s legal authority.

That’s the sound of the (policy) police: The FCC and Sprint’s unlimited data plan debacle

Last week was a stressful one for Sprint’s CEO, Marcelo Claure. Following a botched announcement of Sprint’s new all-in mobile data plan – and the backlash that ensued – the company made an abrupt 180, dropping a policy that many consumers found to be misleading. It was a great example of how competition should play out: firms competing to offer consumers better options and calling each other out when they behave badly, without any need for regulators to get involved. But as bad as this last week was for Claure, it should be seen as worse for the FCC, whose net neutrality rules likely drove Sprint to offer its consumer-unfriendly plan in the first place.