This may be the most important year for the internet since 1996, when Section 230’s intermediary liability protections were first established. For the past four years, a Tweeter‐in‐Chief principally concerned with overmoderation and political bias has occupied the White House. Trump’s concerns culminated in last‐ditch efforts to repeal Section 230 entirely. President‐elect Joe Biden has called for Section 230 to be “revoked, immediately,” albeit for very different reasons. He argues that platforms should be treated more like newspapers, responsible for the speech they carry. Will President‐elect Biden and a divided Congress agree to revise Section 230?
Our guests bring a variety of perspectives about the future of Section 230. At Engine, Kate Tummarello examines the often unintended and underappreciated effects of internet regulation on startups. Mike Masnick has watched administrations, and their technology priorities, come and go for two decades as editor of Techdirt. Will Duffield has criticized proposals to mandate “reasonable” moderation inspired by product liability suits against platforms. He and Matthew Feeney have argued for Congress to keep clear of Section 230 on behalf of innovation and liberty.
Please join us January 26 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. for a lively discussion of internet governance in the coming year.
When in November 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proudly announced that it had approved the first at‐home self‐administered test for COVID-19, there was one catch: patients must get a prescription from a licensed health care practitioner (who is instructed to prescribe it only to symptomatic patients) to purchase and self‐administer the test. This not only defeats the purpose of an at‐home test but runs counter to the goal of restraining contagion.
This is not the first time the FDA has obstructed individuals from obtaining information about their health status. In the early 1970s, the FDA temporarily halted at‐home self‐administered pregnancy tests. The FDA restricted at‐home HIV tests, developed in the late 1980s, well into the early 21st century. Currently, the FDA strictly curtails the development of at‐home genetic testing, useful in screening for hereditary diseases. In every instance, regulators paternalistically cited concerns that patients may use the obtained information unwisely.
Does this regulatory conduct exceed authority granted by the 1976 Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938? Should regulatory authority be more clearly restricted to the safety and accuracy of at‐home tests? Most important, is the FDA violating the fundamental right of autonomous adults to obtain information about their health status? Two experts on law and medical ethics will reply to these and other questions.
- “Don’t Try This at Home: The FDA’s Restrictive Regulation of Home‐Testing Devices,” by Shelby Baird
- “Respect Patients’ Choices to Self‐Medicate,” by Jessica Flanigan
- “A Prescription Is Not Required for an At‐Home Pregnancy Test or an At‐Home HIV Test—Why Require One for an At‐Home COVID Test?,” by Jeffrey A. Singer
- “Drug Reformation: End Government’s Power to Require Prescriptions,” by Jeffrey A. Singer and Michael F. Cannon
- “Regulation: The FDA Is Overcautious on Consumer Genomics.” by Robert C. Green and Nita A. Farahany
In recent decades, and particularly since the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, lawmakers and other elites have told Americans that stricter campaign finance laws are needed to improve faith in the elections process, increase trust in the government, and counter cynicism toward politics. Not surprisingly, the next administration and the new Congress will kick off with proposed legislation to regulate campaign finance.
David M. Primo and Jeffrey D. Milyo argue that politicians and the public alike should reconsider this conventional wisdom in light of surprising and comprehensive empirical evidence to the contrary. Primo and Milyo probe original survey data to determine Americans’ sentiments on the role of money in politics, what drives these sentiments, and why they matter. What have the authors found? While many individuals support the idea of reform, they are also skeptical that reform would successfully limit corruption, which Americans believe stains almost every fiber of the political system. Moreover, support for campaign finance restrictions is deeply divided along party lines, reflecting the polarization of our times. Ultimately, Primo and Milyo contend that American attitudes toward money in politics reflect larger fears about the health of American democracy, fears that will not be allayed by campaign finance reform.
Please join us January 12 from noon to 1 p.m. for a refreshingly contrarian discussion of American politics and campaign finance.
Primo and Milyo probe original survey data to determine Americans’ sentiments on the role of money in politics, what drives these sentiments, and why they matter. What Primo and Milyo find is that while many individuals support the idea of reform, they are also skeptical that reform would successfully limit corruption, which Americans believe stains almost every fiber of the political system.