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Innovation

Evidence-Based Policy Making is Particularly Important in Managing Radio Frequency Spectrum

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Screenshot from one of the Silicon Flatirons panels

October 23, 2020 – Evidence-based policy making needs to be framed by the correct questions, agreed panelists at the Silicon Flatirons event on October 13 and 15.

In the first panel, “Evidence-based policy making in perspective,” Adam Scott, director general of spectrum policy at Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Canada, contrasted the questions, “Should we make broadband a human right?” with, “What are the social and economic benefits of connecting a community that hasn’t been connected yet?”

He asserted that the first question is more philosophical and doesn’t directly ask for data, while the second question can be answered very succinctly with data.

Marrying data and decision-making is the best way to think about evidence-based policy making, said Renee Gregory, senior regulatory affairs advisor at Google and moderator of a session on spectrum sharing. She was speaking about work by Thyaga Nandagopal of the National Science Foundation, who had discussed innovate the current spectrum allocation model.

Additionally, evidence-based policy making does not rely on data gathered to answer funded questions, said Blair Levin, nonresident senior fellow of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

Levin did allow that to make room for innovation it was sometimes difficult to make policies based on evidence. He cited the theoretical work the FCC did when they made the spectrum policy auctions, pointing out that work wasn’t evidence-based because nothing like that had been done before.

How legislators view evidence-based data

Kate O’Connor, member of the chief telecom counsel’s office for the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that in a world of information overload, nearly every person could find information to support their position. Therefore, data needed to be considered holistically.

O’Connor said the communications space was unique because it was so new. The spectrum crunch is a lot different than in the past, and the private sector has more resources than the government in some cases.

There’s bipartisan consensus that the FCC hasn’t done a good job of collecting data, said Levin. He suggested having real experts used to looking at data examine the types of data needed for effective spectrum policy.

Scott Wallsten, president and senior fellow at Technology Policy Institute, said that a lot of the FCC’s data collection methods are really antiquated. He said we should be supplementing our data with surveys like the ones in the Bureau of Labor Statistics and added that it would be nice see the two agencies work together better. He also advocated for transparency in data submission, saying transparency allowed for contextual data interpretation.

Giulia McHenry, chief of the office of economics and analytics at the Federal Communications Commission, agreed that transparency helps to remove biases when examining evidence.

Others stress the need for enforcement in spectrum management

Dale Hatfield, spectrum policy initiative co-director and distinguished advisor at Silicon Flatirons, said in a later event that evidence-based policy making could prove futile without proper enforcement, and said the FCC should delegate some of their statutory power to private industry.

The better the hypothesis, the lower the cost and burden on a company like Hawkeye to help, said Chris Tourigny, electronics engineer at the Federal Aviation Administration, at the “Spectrum Sharing Policy among Active and Passive Service” panel on Thursday.

Panelists Jennifer Manner, senior vice president of regulatory affairs at EchoStar Corporation, and Ashley Zauderer, program director in the division of astronomical sciences at NSF, emphasized the need for being open to amending data along the way.

The importance of continued communication in policy making was also discussed. Stefanie Tompkins, vice president for research and technology transfer at the Colorado School of Mines, shared that years ago they worked with a communications company to get a software package for multipath technology.

They found many of their signals bouncing and going longer than thought they should, which “led to many middle of the night panic attacks.” The communications company had rounded the speed of light—a cultural mismatch that led to a lot of mistakes. Tompkins said this experience applies to how we interpret facts.

David Redl, of Salt Point Strategies, moderated the first policy making panel.

Blockchain

Commodity Futures Chairman Calls for Single Regulator as Crypto Falls and Fraud Rises

‘Our guiding principle at the CFTC must be to stop fraud or harmful conduct that harms our markets.’

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Screenshot of Rostin Behnam, chairman of the CFTC from Monday's Brookings event

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2022 – In light of dwindling crypto stock prices and reports of the increasing risk of fraud associated with the digital currencies, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said at a Brookings Institution event Monday that there needs to be more regulation.

Rostin Behnam said amid the crypto market chaos, regulation is needed to protect Americans. Since the beginning of 2021, “More than 46,000 people reported losing over a billion dollars in crypto to scams” and that the median loss per individual was $2600 from crypto, Behnam said.

“Our guiding principle at the CFTC must be to stop fraud or harmful conduct that harms our markets,” Behnam said, explaining the need to use CFTC authority to bring justice to those who harm our markets. However, without current regulation, Behnam added that “existing ambiguities force hard decisions at the CFTC.”

Behnam praised recently introduced legislation – the Responsible Financial Innovation Act –which proposes a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency under the CFTC’s authority. “I’m encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral support for legislation that recognizes the need for guardrails around the digital asset economy,” he said.

Behnam has previously pitched his commission as the preferred regulator. In February, he said there needs to be a single regulator to “fully police conflicts of interest and deceptive trading practices impacting retail customers.

“The CFTC is well situated to play an increasingly central role in overseeing the cash digital asset commodity market,” he said then.

Until then, Behnam said the CFTC is monitoring how it can get mitigate some harms in lieu of legislation. We “need to constantly monitor risky behavior,” he said, adding the commission is thinking “creatively about how [to] use existing regulatory authority to root out fraud and manipulation in the market.”

There has been debate about what type of regulation should be imposed on the digital currencies and who should be administering that. Some have suggested that there should be a singular regulatory body, as there is confusion as to whether the currencies are commodities or securities, which would but them under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In June, the Department of Justice announced four cases of criminal offenses of cryptocurrency fraud, one of which was the largest non-fungible token scheme ever brought. All cases involved over $100 million in losses.

“As cryptocurrency marketplaces advance and offer new opportunities for consumers, criminals also seek ways to exploit them,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“We have moved past the stage where digital assets were once a research project,” Behnam said. “There is a critical need to educate and protect the public.”

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Artificial Intelligence

Deepfakes Pose National Security Threat, Private Sector Tackles Issue

Content manipulation can include misinformation from authoritarian governments.

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Photo of Dana Roa of Adobe, Paul Lekas of Global Policy (left to right)

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2022 – Content manipulation techniques known as deepfakes are concerning policy makers and forcing the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the problem, a Center for Democracy and Technology event heard on Wednesday.

A deepfake is a technical method of generating synthetic media in which a person’s likeness is inserted into a photograph or video in such a way that creates the illusion that they were actually there. Policymakers are concerned that deepfakes could pose a threat to the country’s national security as the technology is being increasingly offered to the general population.

Deepfake concerns that policymakers have identified, said participants at Wednesday’s event, include misinformation from authoritarian governments, faked compromising and abusive images, and illegal profiting from faked celebrity content.

“We should not and cannot have our guard down in the cyberspace,” said Representative John Katko, R-NY, ranking member of House Committee on homeland security.

Adobe pitches technology to identify deepfakes

Software company Adobe released an open-source toolkit to counter deepfake concerns earlier this month, said Dana Rao, executive vice president of Adobe. The companies’ Content Credentials feature is a technology developed over three years that tracks changes made to images, videos, and audio recordings.

Content Credentials is now an opt-in feature in the company’s photo editing software Photoshop that it says will help establish credibility for creators by adding “robust, tamper-evident provenance data about how a piece of content was produced, edited, and published,” read the announcement.

Adobe’s Connect Authenticity Initiative project is dedicated to addressing problems establishing trust after the damage caused by deepfakes. “Once we stop believing in true things, I don’t know how we are going to be able to function in society,” said Rao. “We have to believe in something.”

As part of its initiative, Adobe is working with the public sector in supporting the Deepfake Task Force Act, which was introduced in August of 2021. If adopted, the bill would establish a National Deepfake and Digital task force comprised of members from the private sector, public sector, and academia to address disinformation.

For now, said Cailin Crockett, senior advisor to the White House Gender Policy Council, it is important to educate the public on the threat of disinformation.

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Blockchain

Hunter Abramson: Why Ticket Sales are the Next Stage of Non-Fungible Tokens on the Blockchain

NFT ticketing also enables a safer, fairer secondary market.

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Author of this Expert Opinion is Hunter Abramson

Many new technologies tend to evolve rapidly, and that has particularly been the case with non-fungible tokens. It’s a technology that has shown vast potential, and early adopters picked up on this, starting an early — and short-lived — NFT craze that has since passed its initial height. However, new developments in NFTs have led to a possible course correction with exciting implications for the blockchain and every industry it touches.

The issue with early NFTs, and what caused the trend to be met with such initial hesitance, is that the general public is hesitant to accept anything without a tangible benefit to them. However, the recent trend towards utility NFTs — in other words, NFTs that offer some value or benefit to the user beyond the string of blockchain code they are composed of — has opened up the door to numerous opportunities for their implementation in various industries.

Why NFTs are the future of ticketing

The ticketing industry is a perfect match for the NFT revolution. For one, the technology used in the ticketing industry has been around for decades. QR codes, which make up most ticketing operations, were introduced in the 1990s, and the barcode system two decades before. The industry has primarily operated on an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset, but it is time that leaders begin to embrace this shift towards newer, better technologies.

NFT ticketing will help combat many issues plaguing the ticketing industry right now. Fraud will be discouraged — if not entirely eliminated — thanks to the blockchain technology upon which NFT tickets are built. Blockchain code is virtually impossible to replicate, which means that fake tickets cannot be produced. When combined with the revolving QR code technology that has been implemented in NFT ticketing systems, this means that virtually no money will be lost by event organizers, and thus, no unhappy customers being scammed.

From the consumer’s perspective, there aren’t many differences between using an NFT ticket and a standard ticket. Like any other ticket, you simply scan its code and enter the event. But the greater security features will assure customers they aren’t being ripped off, and the pre, during, and post-event benefits that come along with an NFT ticket will be highly desirable.

After a ticket is scanned, the ticket becomes a collectible NFT in the ticket-holder’s Ethereum-based digital wallet. For one, it’s a unique souvenir that fans can keep to remember their experience of going to the event, but the NFT could provide value in and of itself. Trading and selling the collectible NFT after the event could continue its influence long after it is over.

Building a community with NFT ticketing

In addition to these utilities, NFT ticketing benefits from the feeling of community that is associated with going to events. For example, because concerts are generally attended by fans of the artists performing, attendees are relatively like-minded in their interests, creating a built-in audience for NFTs. Many NFT projects fail due to a lack of community support, but with NFT tickets, there is no need to build that community from scratch.

NFT ticketing also enables a safer, fairer secondary market, further establishing that sense of community and protection for the consumer against ticket scalping or fraud. Thanks to the built-in verification of blockchain, Consumers are able to buy tickets on the secondary market without worrying about whether or not they are legitimate. Furthermore, blockchain technology prevents massive purchasing transactions. thanks to its more easily verifiable record-keeping, meaning scalping in the secondary market is substantially reduced, if not outright eliminated.

These advantages offered by NFT tickets show the potential of the technology to make the consumer experience significantly better. Many NFT projects have failed because of their lack of utility — and thus, relevance — to the user and inability to form a community around them. NFT ticketing is not susceptible to either of these issues, making them the future of NFT technology.

Throughout his career as a marketer, Hunter Abramson has contributed to all aspects of experience, from cross-promotional marketing to operations to ticket sales. He always pushes the limits to create positive experiences for both the enterprise and the consumer. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Relic Tickets, which aims to disrupt the ticketing industry with NFT tickets.This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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