Policy

What the good children of tech want from policymakers next year

Privacy under the tree, competition measures in the stocking and a New Year’s resolution for net neutrality.

A "Nice" and "Naughty list featuring "Wikimedia Foundation, DuckDuckGo, Proton, Mozilla Foundation" in the nice column and "Meta, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Google" on the Naughty side

Here are the wish lists of some of your least-problematic faves.

Photoi Illustration: TerriC/Pixabay; Protocol

Click banner image for more holiday coverage for 2021

We all know who in tech is getting coal from policymakers. The question is, what do the good children of tech want for the holidays? And by children, we mean companies and nonprofits that aren’t squashing rivals, trying to monetize your eyeball twitches or paying for million-dollar lobbying bills with whatever change comes out when they sneeze.

There’s a lot teed up for discussion in tech policy in 2022, from multiple major European legislative proposals to U.S. competition bills to the possible return of net neutrality. The biggest players will spend plenty of time making clear how those policies would affect them, but it’s good to remember that tech can just be fun — and that the folks who make it fun have their own policy hopes that don’t get much attention.

So here, in their own words, are the wish lists of some of your least-problematic faves. It’s not that the good children are perfect — no kids are, after all — and there’s plenty of room for debate with their wish lists. But they did all swear they were especially good this year.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Rebecca MacKinnon, VP for Global Advocacy, Wikimedia Foundation

Everyone’s heard of Wikipedia. The [Wikimedia] Foundation supports the community that actually builds and contributes the content to the projects and governs them. We provide the technical support, legal support [and] policy advocacy support, which is my job. So we’ve got our list to Santa Claus, and top of the list is: Retain Section 230. Wikipedia is a place that everyone can edit, but it’s not a free-for-all. The community has rules about what are credible sources, what is allowed and not allowed on a given page. Section 230 [allows them] to do that without being sued into oblivion by everybody who doesn’t like their Wikipedia page, which is a lot of people. I wouldn’t mind if mine would improve too!

We [also] want accountable surveillance. We want surveillance oversight. We want people to be able to contribute to Wikimedia projects without fear of being stalked or tracked or retribution in this country or anywhere. And to that end, we need the U.S. government to support strong encryption.

[Finally,] you can’t participate in open-knowledge projects or public-interest technology projects if you don’t have affordable broadband access, and then related to it, of course, net neutrality, so that we don’t have a situation where it’s cheaper and easier to access a few big commercial platforms and nothing else.

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO, DuckDuckGo

One [wish] is trying to get legislation and/or enforcement in place where people who would like to use privacy tools, especially our private search engine, can do so very easily. Right now, it’s very difficult because Google is the default, really everywhere. And in most of those places, it’s very hard to switch the default. I’d say we’re spending most of our priority in the U.S. right now [on] the Senate bill around self-preferencing. It’s kind of the closest thing that exists to stopping some of this Google default exploitation that we see.

The second is trying to really get a way that consumers can either opt out of behavioral advertising [which relies on extensive data collection], or make contextual advertising [which focuses on things you’re already looking for] the default. We would like to bring that to all browsers in the world. We are a founding member to a new standard called Global Privacy Control, which was about [browsers] sending the signal [to websites] to really effectuate an opt-out like that. The problem with that is it has no legal teeth in almost any place except California right now, and so what we would like to do is get wider adoption of that and find a way to tie that to more legal teeth in different places.

Jurgita Miseviciute, public policy and government affairs lead, Proton

We are hoping for negotiations between the European Parliament, council and the commission on the [competition-focused] Digital Markets Act to happen in January with this really landmark piece of technology adopted by summer 2022. One thing that we really wish for is to have the ban on pre-installation of apps to be included there as well. We think this is very important for a lot of app developers and startups in general.

When it comes to the second priority, we go back to the U.S. We are very much hopeful for a proper hearing for the Open App Markets Act. We are very practical, and we don’t expect full-fledged U.S. competition reform to happen in such a short timeframe. But we were very hopeful to see some progress.

And then we are very hopeful for meaningful action from the EU and U.S. Trade and Technology Council, which would also include progress on privacy agreements. We all know that the famous Privacy Shield was invalidated, and this created, obviously, a problem between the EU and U.S. [on] data flows. So we are very hopeful that this newly created body would serve as a meaningful and effective body to coordinate a lot of technology regulation questions.

Ashley Boyd, VP of Advocacy & Engagement, Mozilla Foundation

We want universal ad transparency from Facebook and all other major internet platforms. Campaigning today takes place through online ads in news feeds, stories and video streams, but online ads lack the scrutiny and guardrails that traditional ads in print, radio and TV have long faced. Universal ad transparency can bring lots of sunlight to this dark ecosystem. Imagine a comprehensive, easy-to-search ad library where anyone can browse the ads that run on a platform, see who paid for them and see who they were targeted at.

We [also] want insight into YouTube’s recommendation AI. It determines what millions of people watch each day, and in turn can influence whether they get a vaccine, or whether they accept the outcome of an election. YouTube rabbit holes are real — and sometimes dangerous. We can’t fix rogue systems like this until independent watchdogs can peer under the hood and see what’s happening.

Policymakers should introduce regulations that mandate transparency into recommendation algorithms — something that’s already proposed in the [EU’s] draft Digital Services Act. Policymakers also need to create safe harbor provisions that protect researchers working in the public interest so they aren’t threatened with lawsuits from the big platforms.

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep Reading Show less
FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
Enterprise

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep Reading Show less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.

Enterprise

Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories
Bulletins