tv Government and the Internet CSPAN January 3, 2015 10:00am-11:31am EST
on "washington journal." ♪ >> comment this morning, a look at internet policy. portions of the washington ideas forum. >> the c-span cities to her takes book tv in american history tv on the road traveling to cities to learn about their history and literary life. this weekend, we partner with time warner cable for a visit to austin, texas and >> this was the
private quarters for the president and first lady. this is not part of the tour that is offered to the public. this is never been open to the public. because of the c-span special access, you are getting to see this. it's not open to our visitors on a daily basis. the remarkable thing about this space is it's a living breathing thing, it hasn't changed it also is resident johnson died in 1973. there is a document signed by the archivist of the united states. it nothing in this room it can change. >> we are here on the 100th block of congress avenue here in
austin. it this is an important historic site. this is where waterloo was. it was a cluster of cabins. i'm standing at the spot where the cabin was. this is where the mayor was staying when he and the rest of the men got wind of this buffalo herd. the men jumped on their horses. in those days this was just a muddy ravine that led north. the men galloped on their horses and they had stuffed their belts for pistols and road into the midst of this herd of buffalo. asthey shot an enormous buffalo. they went to the top of the hill and told everybody that this should be the future empire. >> wants all of our events from
austin today on c-span2 and on american history tv on c-span3. >> harvard's institute of politics held a conference in cambridge massachusetts. there was a discussion on government policy and effects of the internet. there were representatives from online services. this is an hour and a half. >> good morning. i feel like we should a vote on something. on behalf of the institute of politics and the internet
association, i am delighted to welcome everybody here and in the virtual world because we are live streaming right now. we are live streaming as far as i know. you already know it if you are on the live stream. if you are here, you don't need it. we are being recorded for posterity by our good friends and neighbors at c-span. they will be putting this up against the friday night battle between the house of representatives'subcommittee on veterans affairs. i think we are looking pretty good. we are broadcasting. be aware. we are in the penthouse on the fifth floor of the kennedy school. the school is named after john
f. kennedy. the institute of politics here has been from the start designed it to support the political aspirations and public service of young people, something president candidate was well-known for. who can forget his speech? how far seeing it was to see the role of coding and the app ecosystem for the future of the country in the world. we will unfold as two panels. i will be moderating the first one on a will the government break the internet? the answer to any question in a headline is no, but we will have to investigate. then we will have a second panel moderated on why internet policy matters.
this is a rare and special opportunity to gather the amazing group of people we have around the table today. we hope we make the most of it. before we start the first panel i am pleased to turn the mic over to michael beckerman from the internet association. >> thanks to the harvard institute of politics for partnering with us. we are going to ask the question will the government break the internet? these are important to the future of the internet and the internet users and companies around the world. as we get into an election cycle that voters care about, we're looking forward to a great conversation. thank you for moderating. >> i am going to take off the
introducers have to put on the moderators hat. i'm going to get into the middle of the well. this is where we need jeopardy music. let's see if this will work. all right. as you may have noticed, i have called this panel. this is a roundtable that has right angles. we have approximately 25 people on the panel. there are roughly 85 minutes to do this. introductions would not be done before the time is done. we have a special configuration. i want to use this to our advantage. this is how we suggest we do it. to bear in mind and adopt the ideal as we proceed, we are speaking for posterity. don't forget that c-span is
recording this. imagine the 20 years from now when people have a jet packs and nick bostrom's ai has taken over . it doesn't look good for us. they will be looking back nostalgically at 2014. maybe the names of the companies will have changed. i urge us as we discussed to think about what we would be saying to somebody in the future about the issues we are facing now. i think that will keep us at the right level of importance for what we want to say and it gives license to explain a little bit the issue that among many people here dealing with governments all the time on this who may represent government, we have
shorthands for all sorts of things. there needs to be a translation available for others. i think that would be quite good. that also means that since we are not doing introductions around the table, when you first speak up, feel free to introduce yourself and do an extra beat. don't just say ebay, say as you may remember as... or maybe not. echo bay. we have already learned something today [laughter] an extra beat on the introduction. the one other guideline i would give is often and especially in
government affairs, our points are usually three in number. i like to adjust that to one. give or take. how about just one thing with an elaboration and we can keep the conversation flowing rather than there being three different reasons. that will make it harder to follow. sound good? yes? as michael hinted, we have a mclaughlin group as-esque set of issues. we will talk about liability and a surveillance and net neutrality, this is in the news recently. finally, that governance. the thicket from which there is no return.
we want to touch and integrate on all of them. i want to think a little bit about the category of intimate year he -- intermediary liability. governments regulate people. at other times, they realize don't regulate people, regulate any institution in between the government and the people and put mandates there and then you can still effectuate regulation in a more powerful way. copyright infringement defamation, these are examples. as the internet has grown in the american context, we've seen some balance struck in what the government may require of intermediaries. one example is coming from europe with a newly recognized right to be forgotten. adam, where are you?
i don't know why it occurred to me that adam should be asked first to weigh in on the right to be forgotten. tell us what company you are from and how is it going? >> i am adam and i lead googles u.s. policy efforts. google is a search engine company -- was a search engine company that did a lot of great things. [laughter] humble. the right to be forgotten is an interesting issue that a lot of us in the u.s. look at the ruling of this european court of justice and think this is outside the bounds and not something that would gain traction here due to our first amendment and strong intermediary liability principles.
i think it's important to acknowledge some of the feelings that motivate the desire for a right to be forgotten. there is more information about all of us online than ever before. that is true. a lot of the search costs for finding bangs have been -- things have been obliterated. you can find a criminal record in the basement of city hall. the internet has obliterated that. people are concerned about the impact. what concerns me about the right to be forgotten is it has not been balanced with some of the other competing values such as the values of free expression and the benefit of the consumers right to know about things like whether a vendor has had bad reviews against them or a babysitter has had criminal offenses. these are things that people could request to be removed from
search results and i think that's very anti-consumerist. >> is this a shift in thinking with google from a stance that used to say we index the internet. if you have a problem with that, please consult the internet. now it's tricky things that need to be balanced and may have quibbles with a privately activated process where a person comes to google and maybe a link goes down between a person and the information. this is a new reality. >> the reality is and why the court case has been heavily dissected is it hinges on whether google is a data processor, which the court ruled it is, or a newspaper or
journalistic organization. we are showing some prioritization, which we are. search results do both. they believe that these results are more important to the user than others. >> on the mechanics of it, how is it going? give us a sense of the flow coming after the opinion came down. are there plans to open u it up? >> we have received 100,000 requests. we have a backlog of requests. we have to go through these one by one. >> are their jobs posted for google right to be forgotten processors? >> some of the cases we have seen have been former politicians asking to have news of their criminal convictions removed.
in our view, these are not in the public interest area --. there is some interest in the part of regulators and policymakers in parts of latin america and asia looking at that, this is something we should consider. >> so far, you are limiting this to where it is required of you to implement. >> only within our european domain. >> only in localized portholes. -- portals. if i am alert enough to say i can perform a search in england. are there other companies at the table that watching this very closely? if you're not a search engine is right to be forgotten implicating what you do, either
now or in the future? it's remarkably quiet. this is a search engine specific thing? wow. braddock? i thought i saw a hand go up? >> no you didn't. >> fair enough. >> i am a senior counsel at trip advisor. we were once the world's largest travel site. that point in time is now. it will be disingenuous to say we're not watching with interest how this unfolds. we have looked at the european court justice decision and we have seen how google has reacted to it. there is a proposed directive that we don't know whether it
will be enacted or not. we don't know what form it will take. how they will implemented -- implemented? the decision raises more questions than it answers. who falls into the exception? what is a relevant and who decides that? >> should google not allow the intervention? >> matters of public interest. where is that line drawn? a politician is one thing. a b&b owner providing poor service to customers, where does that fall in the line it? i think there are a lot of open questions. >> adam was saying its 2014. it's not as simple as let the internet deal with it. there are lots of equities to be
balanced. this is the new reality. is there a similar thing going on on sites like trip advisor that solicit reviews and other information from people that might make institutions -- it might make or break a hotel if it gets a certain ranking or review. this generally gets sorted out in your commitment to your users. are there ways in which this could go awry? >> i think each individual platform has the rules and egos that -- ethan o's -- ethan o's -- ethos users come to expect. i don't know when you what the
government determining what's irrelevant. take them down. >> we got rid of the cockroaches. the prior owners are in jail. how would i do that through a contact form? >> at trip advisor, there are situations where we will remove reviews. change of ownership is the most common one. major renovations, you just put in new wings and hired new management. there are judgments. >> are those judgments made according to your conscience and what makes for a good business? is there a shadow of government intervention should you do that wrong? i know that your lawyer is at the table. >> he is sitting right here. [laughter]
those are made for what is best for the community. the more experiences you are able to offer up to someone who is trying to figure out what to expect when they take time off and spend their hard-earned money and take their kids somewhere, the quantity is very helpful. there are certain things we determined that are irrelevant. maybe they should be forgotten. in certain situations, you put new linens on your beds, we are not going to change everything. >> anything else on the right to be forgotten before we move along? i can't tell it's because it's uncontroversial or because it's totally controversy all. -- controversy all. [applause] >> i just want to add one thing.
this won't go away as an issue. the debate will be the next arena where this takes place. we have precedent under the fair credit reporting act where we say that information should be used like bankruptcy or foreclosure, it can't be used to get somebody past 10 years. we've made a judgment through legislation in this country that information has an expiration date. we acknowledge that there is value in the meantime. we don't want it to be held against somebody forever. we will have to weigh a lot of these things legislatively about how we feel a person's history ought to follow them prefer that certain types -- for certain types of information. we require sex offenders to
register forever. if you look at france, they believe any crime should be expunged from your record once you have done your time. they want people to have a clean slate. we will have to make these judgments legislatively. >> it's easier when the information is in the hands of the government. once it's in the public domain it's much harder to effectuate putting the genie back in the bottle. five to 10 years from now, will there be an american right to be forgotten recognize legislatively or as a matter of customer service? >> not on the scale, it will be miniature laws and other steps taken to it dress certain types of information. -- two address certain types of information. -- to address certain types of information. >> are some of the accordance is
with american law, before the modern lab and the companies here were up and running, are those holding up well? defamation in another state law claims that 70 might bring often involved an intermediary, those tend to be off the table through the communications act decency act. we see section 512 of the copyright act which encourages intermediaries in many circumstances against copyright infringement claims, even if the site is the way in which the infringement is happening if they take things down when asked. is that holding up well? is there a problem anybody would have to tweak that in america
one way or the other? this is the most wonderfully -- >> i am with ebay. we do payments through paypal and we have a small company called a stub hub for ticket sales. this goes to your questions about the communications decency act. if you look we would have said today that the internet had been broken. the irony of section 230 is a law meant to limit speech on the web ended up being one of the greatest proponents. part of this is the government
acting in ways that doesn't come out the way it came out. i do the two did get anywhere close to passing section 230 in the united states. as the far end of the pendulum it allows everybody to start from a position of we are going to work to keep openness as the basic principle and work act from there with the exceptions. >> it sounds like you are saying, congress, keep up the good work. thanks so much for your enlightened legislation. >> a senator from nebraska ended up being a visionary that he never expected to be. >> you can layer on acceptable use policies, things that in the company's judgment like auctions
that are prohibited. >> part of the protection that these acts provide is the ability for companies to exercise judgment and to get rid of things they believe are in the consumer's interest. >> when there's been a conflict in a commerce, the rolex company has a litter of kittens over fake wetsuits -- watches being sold on ebay, is that settled now? >> i would say that the great copyright and trademark wars over the internet are not settled. there is the ability for people to push the envelope. for the vast majority of commerce, it's a much better
situation than it had been. i think there is no reason to reopen the digital millennium copyright act and most companies have adopted similar statutes and regulations. >> can i ask you to weigh on this question --? >> i am also from trip advisor. we used to do an online review. we confront this regularly. i would agree with todd. as the state of it is today in the united states, 230 is a terrific help to our business model and others here today. it is under threat from time to time. there was a group of state ag's
but you or two ago -- a year or two ago trying to claw back some of those restrictions. europe is more unsettled in terms of the regularity and the rules of the road there. it is a less friendly environment for the intermediary. >> nothing in particular you would ask of the government? nothing you are fearing it will do? >> on the u.s. side? no. internationally, i think clarity. the big ask would be what it looks like. it's unlikely that would be passed today. it may be a difficult road to get past internationally. >> maybe i can ask you, tell us where you're from. >> i am at the republican
senatorial committee. the republican party over the last 20 years has had an amazing resurgence, it is a great, golden age, as we all know. [laughter] >> and how much would an issue like the one we were just talking about be on the radar whether for a campaign, or for policymaking, or is this kind of in the weeds/ ? >> presently today is an issue that is largely to the weeds which is a benefit to the tech industry as a whole. tech policy is an area of remarkable consensus more or less, and as we have seen in recent policy debates on the hill, there are issues that are forming unusual coalitions, so issues where you have darrell issa working, and that is to the
benefit of my view of the tech industry that it does not become overly aligned with either political party. as you zoom out the lens on the issue of the right to be forgotten and these other issues, within the construct of how you set up this roundtable and you say what is the perspective in the future, i think it is an inevitable shift as society changes their perspectives so-called digital natives rather than the 30th, 40's, and 50's, and frankly we have a different view on things like social posts, search information, and the rest. the baby boomer generation, immigrants if you well, perhaps will be more concerned about some of those issues than digital natives will be ultimately in the end. >> we are hearing about the lifestream people, they are not hearing you. >> they are not hearing me?
apologies to the lifestream for the distance of the mics. got it. let me ask a question knowing we have a good friend from facebook at the table. here is just a quick question -- suppose we have some form of unrest, all la ferguson of the last few weeks, and there are posts on facebook about it, and facebook has an opportunity in the interest of public safety to decide whether to subordinate posts, that's a something like let's meet at the corner of x and y and really show our rage, maybe facebook and say well, we will escalate a little bit video of a cat. [laughter] >> they might do that anyways. >>[laughter]
>> let me turn to joel kaplan of all people so he may express his outrage that i would even ask the question. >> yep i'm just recovering from the shock that my friend, matt, would suggest that. joel kaplan, i'm the vice president of of u.s. public policy for facebook, which was a small startup social network with a goal of connecting the world, and hopefully by 2024 we will achieve that. it is a great question, and i think it does, it extends out the conversation about intermediary liability in a way that i think touches on some of the broader issues that we see not necessarily the united states. i think i agree with the earlier comments that u.s. law is actually pretty good as a result of section 230 and other efforts, but we do see in other places around the world efforts
to hold internet companies responsible for the content of the people who are posting it, user-generated content full stop one of the places where it manifests itself is when the citizens are using the internet not just facebook, but other sites, to communicate their satisfaction -- and their dissatisfaction and potentially plans for meeting, and i can turn into unrest. at a summit you see governments around the world i think very conscience of and increasingly conscious of after the arab spring in 2011. >> what is your baseline way of dealing with that? is it analogous to adam's original as google google's original view of it is the internets, if you have a problem with it, go to somebody else and facebook is saying look, we have a secret sauce that organizes what posts rise in
the feed. we do not tweak it so much it does what it does, don't blame us. or is their licensors or to do exactly that in the interest of the customers or the public good? >> i think you are conflating two issues, which understandably, healthy algorithms for the newsfeed operates, and whether facebook will be responsive to a government that wants to crackdown on dissent. >> right. let's talk about the first one first, which is wholly on the absence of government wanting to do anything. with facebook on its own, the way trip advisor might decide there has been a change in ownership, we are going to make a change to our algorithm -- there is an acceptable use policy. >> the algorithm that facebook uses to determine what to show in an individual's newsfeed is a somehow or effort to show that individual the information we think is most relevant and interesting to that person, and
that is a constantly evolving determination, taking into consideration lots of other factors. so, i mean, i don't really view that as facebook -- i do not think facebook would view that as its response ability to determine what the people who are using its service ought to see. >> now this is getting into my oath as a law professor to ask the hype that all follow up -- there is some video from the islamic state that if other users of facebook subscribe into the ideals of the islamic states want to see, you and reserve the right to intercede? >> again, i am trying to disaggregate the question of how often the outdoor will show what is on the site, period. -- how often the outgo rhythm show what is on the site -- algorithm shows what is on the site, period.
we do have community standards that exclude some contents, and mostly that stuff that we view as causing direct harm, so if somebody is directly inciting violence on our site, that is precluded under our community standards. >> where i'm hearing you saying as it is on us. it is not that it goes down in the feed -- it is just gone. >> if it violates our community standards of inciting violence or otherwise causing direct harm or other things laid out in our standards, it will be precluded from being on our site. the way we enforce that is through a reporting mechanism so in most instances we are not going out to police that. we're waiting for summary, one of our users, to report that. >> you would not use the feed algorithm as a remedy, you would only use block it or not block it, take it down or leave it up. >> yes. >> got it. you said there was a second
point about government and what it might demand, and facebook of course is a worldwide phenomenon. >> we are obviously a global service, and we have to abide by the law of the countries in which we operate. so in addition to our community standards, basically, we will respond to demands from government if they conform to the laws of that country. now, we will not typically take something off of our site if we think it does not violate our community standards, but we may i.t. block it in the jurisdiction of the area. >> roughly but not exactly analogous to google implementing a right to be forgotten within the european portals but not elsewhere, and then the user will see a message -- this is not available. >> right. one of the things we have done as have a number of companies around the table is publishing
government request reports, the purpose of which is to share with our users the number of circumstances in which their government has asked us to take something down. that gives the people who use our service a way of understanding the extent to which their government or some other government is insisting that content be precluded from what we have seen. >> can i jump in the actually ? >> yes. >> i used to work for the organization that governed the united states before the great facebook -- [laughter] i work at the state department now. i joined it about a year ago, and prior to that, i worked at the white house after the president was elected in 2008. it occurs to me that i'm in a room with people who can answer this question that i have had for a few years now, and hearing mats talk about health tech policy is in the weeds right now and it is a good thing, i recall
the great debate of 2011 or whenever that was and being in the white house and seeing this issue develop and how rapidly it developed in the public space once the internet companies started talking about it to the users, and as someone who has spent a few years in internet apathy and advocacy generally it with some thing i had never seen before, to go from five miles an hour to 100 miles an hour was google put a link on its page, once expedia had a link at the top, and it occurred to me that these large sort of mentorship-based organizations that can rapidly communicate to millions of people and frame an issue where people who had no idea what it was before they saw it on this page had this great new power that could be you know, used -- advocate for policy positions when it is presented to people by companies -- they are advocated by
corporate incentive, even though they say they are always looking at the customer first, and i think it is good. but being on the receiving side of it, it was remarkable to me to see the power that large internet companies have when they decide to present an issue. >> is there a question you want to ask? >> the people who are probably making those decisions -- are we ok talking about the users? when we talk about transparency reports, do we want to tell people how they could, you know, express their views on whether they like this or not ? how would you advocate your responsibility of encouraging accuracy? >> i think we had someone here from reddit, ok, we have a campaign manager from reddit. >> we are a public policy trade
association represent public policies. if you are watching in 2025, we are also doing drawn policy. [laughter] >> a bit too late. >> i think that is an interesting question. looking through the political lens all politics are local and the approach we take with issues that we bring, we want to make sure that elected officials see our companies and our users as particular interest. if you're a senator from a big agricultural state, you care about the farmers in the prop -- and the cross and you may not have a google or yelp based in your state, but all of your constituents and voters care about the internet and they care about internet issues. they are using facebook, google, trip advisor, yelp come other services, and they care about what happens. that is what you happen with soba and -- sopa and pipa. they are going to speak out. >> ma is saying with an
association like yours, you have a usual lever to pull, there is a special lever, break glass in case of emergency, which has change the homepage of global come up with the shroud around the wikipedia entry, and diapers the users here, and i hear macon asking how frequent he under what circumstances will that lead? >> the great thing about the internet is the user is king, so it is not always top-down where the user is saying you need to care about this, it is what matters to users, and competition on the internet, unlike probably any other part of our economy to click away. it is easy to click from one site to another, whatever is interesting to you, so our company and our industry is very responsive to what the interests of the user are.
>> trying to think what might be the next issue where you way to break glass and pulled lever and rally directly -- would it be over government surveillance? >> i think that is an important issue. joel made a good point on his transparency report, something that users care about and our companies and our industry have been leaders on shining the light on government practices and standing up and defending their users. the platforms are all global, so it is not just by users in the united states but about users around the world, and it is something that out think our companies have shown real leadership on. >> yes, laura life. -- lorelei. >> i am going to give an institutionally -- >> tell us who you are. >> my name is laura like kelly i am with x lab. we are looking at billing the next and ration of platforms for public problem-solving. i work on congress and how to --
[laughter] here we go. who watches "house of cards? "? congress is not organized enough to be that awful. it is an old jalopy with the hood up right now trying to drive on a modern highway. x it is just a country legislature. [laughter] >> one of the things i am delighted about this meeting right now is to bring technology policy, community especially the commercial interests, into a conversation about long game policies, and not just showing up -- >> what would crystallize the ask you would like to make to this group/ ? >> i would like to ask that you invest a new kind of, not necessarily think tank, but a nude kind of knowledge brokering, in a support system with a neighbor like technology
for decision-making in the policy arena, which is not crowdsourcing, it is much more cure ration, much more showing up at the right place at the right time. all information is not created equally. right now, if we do not figure out a way to flip the big data revolution into a competitive political constituency for evidence, we are not going to have a legislature that makes policy based on the best knowledge available, for example. >> let's just unpack that. the big data revolution, to be able to be used to produce evidence, you mean by that, thanks to big data, there is lots more we can know about the world and about people, not just what kind of cat food they are likely to buy -- >> exactly, but they are not necessarily on rents into the policymaking process right now that are useful or that show up at the right place at the right time. i mean, let's face it, the
language between california and washington d.c. is crazy, and hackers are artists. they are looked at as criminals in bc, disruption of a business plan and san francisco, a national security threat in washington. there is a huge effort to simply apprehend -- >> is there a classic case study where you can imagine this being applied, just to be concrete? >> i was on the hill for 10 years, and we did not even have lcd screens or really basic technical compositions inside committee hearings. what if we created a way to create data, predictive modeling or probability modeling or context modeling inside mark ups while they are voting on amendments? so you have a way to hold members accountable for decisions they are making in the moment about the outcomes for society at large. there are all kinds of ways you can enable --
>> if i put the word "not" into this sentence, this will tell me what will change -- this is how many people -- >> it is very important to say right now it is not the quality -- congress has a huge data quality problem. let's face it. but we do not want to get into the fight about the credibility of big data as much as the quality of it, and i am fine with co-rotating the data if a committee chair will listen to it, which is from their district will stop at is that kind of mapping that gets to the -- it just gets into the inbox. it is really not that complicated. it is that this community, i think, is thinking that information is the answer. it is not. >> let me stop you there and turned to bruce scheier. bruce, i want to ask you crisply
first, after introducing yourself, how worried should the average internet user be about government surveillance in particular in 2014? use whatever unity think appropriate. second -- do you have a view on whether there is a way to deploy new technologies, new ways of sorting and searching new information to help this broken jalopy of congress? >> i am bruce scheier i work in security and technology and policy at a lot of these issues. this is a comic it a question, and to be crisp, i think you have to be very worried about surveillance in general, whether it is government and corporate. sibley because it is a new way of organizing society where everything is recorded and used and reused and saved, and the policy implications of that really have not been brought through. we have kind of backed through carrying a cell phone or using a
search engine without really thinking about what the ramifications are. policy fixes i think are going to come not directly but from the side. we do not really see appetite in congress, really in many countries, to attack these countries head-on. europe more than the united states, but even so not much. i look toward some of the regulatory agencies, some of the ways you can get policy, which is informed by technology, into action that does not require legislators. i tend to be near-term pessimistic and long-term optimistic, and i will leave you tantalizing at that point. >> a lot of the companies present are on the table are themselves on behalf of their users newly sensitized to maintaining a certain distance from government, securing user data. i am curious -- is there any
thing, any ascii will make around the table or is this pretty much the issue and working on it -- is there anything, any question you will make around a table, or is this pretty much the issue and they are working on a? >> they want to do it themselves full google is not saying -- we do not like surveillance. google is saying -- it is our job, go away. we need to get to the point where users want business models that don't have surveillance. when duck, dudck go surpasses google in traffic, we know -- >> policy or something like it is adopted. >> or you go in through policy. we are at the point where technology can become technology and -- technology can become policy, and policy can become technology.
>> let me go to althea. tell us where you are from, and given the posture of the couple you are working with and the place in the industry, how much do these issues of surveillance whether in relation to the government -- i am trying to figure out what sort of request the government would make of sb -- we need to know where that scarf came from! [laughter] on maybe the corporate surveillance side that bruce was rather incendiaryly striking the tender on, how much are you concerned about user right with the end the commerce that you facilitate? >> i am with sc, and online marketplace, and for us the government surveillance issue is not as you implied much of an issue, we just do not have government knocking on our door all that often, which is great.
it lets us not worry about that as much as up on the user privacy peace, for us it is really a matter of building and maintaining trust with our user base, so when we are making decisions about how to use data internally, we just got check ourselves. if i knew that was happening for me, what i find that creepy? that is important for us because if we use the data we collect about our users in a way that they -- that would lose trust without consumer base, they are going to go somewhere else, so that is sort of how -- we do police ourselves, i guess. >> i once went to hormel foods in minnesota and met their bacon taster, a guy whose job was to taste bacon all day long. >> great job. >> at some point he would go you know what, it is best before today, and they would stamp the package and be like, "now we know." etsy is like, "you know, that
policy, it would be best if it were not that way." >> right. >> maybe i should put it out voluntary questions before i call on someone, maybe from yelp or something -- [laughter] how broken, if at all, is the model of data gathering and usage that, in many ways, drives the free internet? maybe less so the transactional internet, but you get the free information -- somebody has got to pay for all of this stuff. advertising has a storied history back to free television. is this model -- you just need to adjust it to deal with the occasional creepiness, or is there something fundamentally worrisome about it? why don't i put it to you. >> sure. with yelp. at this point, in 2014, i do not think it is broken. i will just put that out there.
yelp is a platform that can next people to local businesses that are around them, so whether it be a restaurant or a dry cleaner or wherever, you want to find out what is best in your location for stuff you can going to yelp and look at user id's and content -- >> how's yelp make its money? >> through advertising. basically we get businesses to put ad packages on yelp, and if you are searching for a dry cleaner, a restaurant -- >> you have two lists, here are the good dry cleaners, and here are the ones that paid me, and they are marked. >> it is marked as an advertisement, so the user knows, and we try to do everything that we can to illuminate any sort of confusion there. at the same time, that is how we
make our revenue through that manner, and i do not think there is anything wrong with it. in our sense, it is not about electing a ton of information about the user. it is easy to set up a yelp account, your first name initial, data birth, and an e-mail address. anything you want to put in after that is up to the user themselves. >> is the data you are collecting i guess the targeting happens quite naturally. you are looking for the dry cleaner in this area, boom. are you looking on the basis of inference about a user rather than just running -- rather than just on a search? >> we want to build to tell the business and providing most useful information about who is going there, so it is a matter of how many people who might be going to that page. >> what demographics would you give in to say old people really like your dry cleaning, maybe not young people not so much? >> exactly.
various metric thing the vast majority of yelp users are carla -- college graduates, most of them are in the 25 to 50 range in makeover x amount a year, and also generally speaking have been able to sort of show that within a period of time, like within a week, you want to go to yelp to spend money, to buy something, so those are examples you can take to business owners, why you should advertise on our platform. >> from the point of youth of your company, we are about to hear about, basically plus one or a difference from what laurent just described? >> thank you. my name is leigh freund. i am the head of public policy for aol.
the sting was having personally identifiable information, like i am michael beckerman i live in washington, d.c., here is my social security and credit card information, and i am a user who lives in washington, d.c. who searches off equipment hypothetically. we use the ladder in an aggregate form. if i were to use personal information to target michael beckerman for an ad based on cliques and the millions of impression is thats that we need for advertisers, it would not be successful strategy. so aggregating all of the information laurent's was talking about in all of the information about user behavior to serve them targeting advertising is i think something that a lot of the companies around the table do, but one of the things that we try to do in a reasonable way is give transparency to our users and choices about whether or not they want to be targeted.
you have got an opportunity to opt out of that kind of data collection and you have an opportunity to al qaeda that targeting. there is always a balancing in our industry between privacy and free internet. >> >> it sounds like an enthusiastic plus one. let's see if we can make it a viral sensation. >> margaret nagle with yahoo! we are a company that provides -- we are trying to meet users daily habits every day with weather, sports, finance e-mail. plus one absolutely to the comments. the other thing you are starting to see a lot of on the privacy front is something the company's are dealing with everyday.
if our users don't trust us, they will not continue to use our service. we are always trying to ensure what we are doing is something the users will be comfortable with, understand, and be clear. one thing companies are doing is starting to not necessarily compete on privacy. but i think people are starting to see privacy as a way to differentiate their product and to talk to users about privacy more directly. you are seeing a lot of contextual privacy notices and trying to make sure when you are on an app you are seeing what is happening on the app and not the yahoo! website. when you're interacting with an advertisement, you will see privacy notices about the kind of data in forming that advertisement. on our sports website, your seeing your favorite football team, the redskins. there is going to be a way for you to understand why you are
getting that information in context. that is one of the areas where you are seeing development and trying to make that communication more clear. >> let me ask you about the point on competition. that is getting back to bruce schneier's comment. you are suggesting that here as well. if i am the average internet user might something i am doing on yahoo! implicate something i see on aol or yelp? are there ways in which the information about me that facilitates advertising moves among the websites? do you glean from your users and those are not mappable on another site? >> there are circumstances where what is happening on one site is being used on other sites as
so many people use technology and are seeing the ways it is being integrated into our daily life, i think it is something everyone is paying a lot of attention to. there is a lot of attention on it and a lot of oversight, which is appropriate. whether that will lead to legislation or regulation in the immediate future, i am not sure. i think the dialogue and oversight is important. you're seeing a lot of companies work together on regulatory efforts. i think there are best practices and things that will move forward maybe more quickly than rigorous -- regulation or legislation. it is certainly an issue we are all focused on. >> in the future, i think we will see this change from a person-interface site world we are living in and moving to the pigpen world in which you as a
person with your device carry around all your data. all around you, people are seeking data about you and for you. >> the data may not literally be in the device. you are saying the authority to release it may be much more interactive rather than a one-time i agreed to that policy five years ago. it will be somebody is wanting to know x about you right now. how do you feel about that? >> i walk into starbucks and i have my starbucks app. they know who i am when i walked into the store. here is your coffee you like tod, it has already been prepared for you. >> let's check in with atetsy. how is the creepy meter on that? [laughter] no coffee for you. we will get over that and you will be able to drive into starbucks. they will have a lamppost a block away.
the coffee will be hot when you arrive at starbucks. >> or you will drive by the lamppost and it will say there is a starbucks right here. isn't it time for you to have your starbucks? at 4:00 in the afternoon when you search for a location, it will say, are you going home? i do think we are moving to whether it is deliberate or not we will all end up as pigpen carrying our data around us. >> that may not be the best metaphor. [laughter] >> that is the creepy side of it. >> i am being chased by a jalopy. >> one thing i would add is that may be creepy to althea, but i would love it if every time i walked into starbucks my cup of coffee was ready and i did not have to wait in line. that is where the user choosing to put that app on his phone --
>> people are coming in and grabbing stuff. if you are a third party in 2014 looking at this, what is going on? if we rfid money it is like pushing the grocery cart and it adds up your stuff because it is tagged. you could grab buckets of money in the bank left out in the lobby. you just walk out the door and it would check you out. it would be, ok, $272. >> why would you need money at that point? [laughter] >> so you could save walking into a bank. >> you may not want to try that in 2014. >> i think it speaks back to the generational shift and societal tolerance for those issues. remember the seamless sharing apps three or four years ago which i loved.
they would seamlessly share after one-time authorization your netflix viewing. by and large users got freaked out by that and they deemphasized that. >> you have young people walking in and grabbing a coffee and old people in line. >> as our society gets more used to things, you can move the ball slightly forward. i do believe things like that that today some creepy, in five or 10 years, it may sound -- >> weird talking about the melding of physical infrastructure and the internet out there. walking down the street, i cannot help but think to turn to you and how much you as a c.i.o.
of a public entity is about keeping the trains running on time on the desktops of the employees of the city versus thinking about what role there might be in public infrastructure to support the kind of vision tod is talking about. >> i am the chief information officer for the city of boston, formerly a small colony of puritans down the road from here and now the hub of the regional economy. [laughter] it is an interesting question. much of my job does consist of making sure the trains run, the computers work. as a city, near where the rubber meets the road sometimes literally on the more innovative technologies being developed in a comes to things like transportation things like lodging.
we have legitimate public policy interests at play when it comes to these new innovative technologies. we are less in the realm of privacy and intermediary liability as a policy matter. we do have to think about things like public safety liability and protection of landlords and individuals participating in these new and innovative services. there is a shift i think is happening. we have gone from a place of many municipalities to one where we believe we have an obligation to try to support the innovation economy, to work with companies doing innovative things, and find ways to meet our public policy needs and objectives in a practical sense. the challenge we face now is
there's not necessarily great models for this that do address those challenges at the local level. that is what we are struggling to do, to work with companies to make sure we are developing policies that are smart and don't just shut down things that should be given room to grow. >> how much of your concern within a municipal government has to do with what joel alluded to, getting internet available to everybody? i cannot help but ask, how much would something like net neutrality be something in which something like the city of boston would have a stake? would boston have a view on net neutrality? >> boston does have a view on net neutrality. our mayor has signed on to the conference of mayors statement encouraging regulatory agencies to support and preserve net neutrality. we look at it from a couple of
different angles. one is we are a sinner of the innovation economy. we think it is important for businesses in boston to be able to thrive and have an open mr. cap -- internet. would also look at it as a question of equity and ensuring our citizens -- we've you access to affordable broadband as being a core issue in our cities and something we have oversight into how we think about our policies. we want to make sure when a citizen goes online, whether they are doing business with the city accessing educational information, looking for job opportunities, trying to start a business, that they have the connectivity and bandwidth they need to do that. as a result, we have skin in the game. >> is there a hunger to produce
municipal fiber or get the city into the broadband business? >> we are committed to ensuring every resident of boston has access to affordable high-speed broadband internet. there are a lot of different ways to solve that problem. i don't think we have figured out the right answer for that. i don't think we are where we need to be. for our most under-connected residents, there are not a lot of great options now. but we are looking at ways to encourage and increase the adoption of broadband. >> does anyone want to weigh in on net neutrality? >> i want to go back to the first question you asked in regards to internet and technology adoption within the city. take the general premise of, will government break the internet and flip it around. i want to say the internet can
help governments do their jobs better. that is what lorelei was talking about earlier. we have tremendous amounts of data we continue to get on a daily basis on millions of users. one thing a lot of companies will continue to do is figure out ways to package this data that can be helpful to government entities. >> does yelp offer that for government? >> you can go on yelp and rate any general space. [laughter] >> city of boston, 4.5 stars. [laughter] >> our parking clerk's office is not faring so well. [laughter] >> is there something that could be done? is it a feedback issue or a different issue? >> i don't think anyone is going to the parking clerk for a good
time. [laughter] in terms of how we do service delivery, we are thinking about how we use data. some of that is about using the data we have a more strategic ways in our organization to manage, set targets, create accountability creating transparency with the public. we are interested not only in the data sets we have but the ones that exist in the public and how we can interact with that in an effective way. for us, it is not thinking about how many stars we have on yelp but are we delivering good services and holding ourselves accountable for that. there are a lot of ways to use technology to do that. >> i am a professor at george washington university and a fellow at the shore and steen center at harvard. and thinking about whether government can break the internet, i think the answer is
no because the internet as a peer to peer network is already broken and has been for some time. the notion of peer to peer network where my computer, my website, is treated equally to all others was true until about 2007 and 2008. when amazon put something online and i put something online, we both had to take the same path over the internet. >> now amazon writes a check or builds its own delivery network, and you cannot. >> now the vast majority of web traffic never touches the public background. instead of having to go through regional networks and up to the main national fiber networks and back down taking dozens of hops along the way, now when i do a google search it is just a few
hops. instead of using the backbone, there is a direct fiber connection between comcast and google. the reason this has happened is because we are all very sensitive to tiny slowdowns in latency. >> is this -- >> it is now the de facto structure of how the internet functions. >> is this something, see, the system works? >> i think the real concern is less about bandwidth which is mostly what policymakers have been talking about, and much more about latency. the single best established fact about web traffic is higher latency, waiting a fraction of a second longer between when you click the button and the page loads, it is impossible to build an online audience without
having a blazingly fast site. google has spent billions of dollars just to be about a quarter of a second faster. the concern is not so much youtube or netflix. if they have to pay for more bandwidth, they will. the concern is if comcast is in the situation of being able to force everybody else to pay for latency, that is not just about google or netflix. that is about every single newspaper site. >> where do you park that concern? wake up, congress, you need to do x? or is it something for which you want to invoke the industry? where do we take that concern? >> i think it has to be a concern in the corporate boardroom, the federal communications commission, the federal trade commission, absolutely in the halls of congress. >> they are all listening to you. what do you want them to do?
>> i think the most important principle is making sure people don't -- people and small carriers especially don't have to pay to have the same latency amazon or google does. a net neutrality focused more on latency rather than bandwidth. making sure that if i have my own upstart online that it runs roughly as fast as amazon. >> is there anything you would ask of the supranational entities the internet governance entities? >> it is something regulators in
europe and around the world should pay attention to. if comcast -- because there is no competition for truly high-speed internet, you really do have -- what comcast is explicitly trying to do is become a market maker or essentially the model. the ability to say nice website it is a shame it runs half a second slower than everyone else's. >> turn to comcast and we don't have one. let me ask among the barons that have the billions to not have this be a problem are you guys basically sitting pretty? are you concerned about the future of the infrastructure that delivers bits between you and your customers? joel? >> of course we are concerned
about it. my guess is most of the companies around the table are concerned. we have on net neutrality taken the position through our association that it is something the fcc needs to address and preserve. i agree with matthew that latency is a huge issue for users, particularly in the developed world where most people have access. thereto the next stage of wanting access as fast as possible. other parts of the world, that is not the issue. only about one third of the world has internet connection. the bigger challenge in huge parts of the world's is to get to the first step, which is access, to get them online at all. that is something we are focused on. >> how do you think through the natural possibility that when you get them online, you will
get them online in a mode that says we will give you facebook, wikipedia, a few other things we curate? anything else, let's wait until you can pay for it. how do you think through that form of what i gather is a non-neutral net you are providing at no cost? how do you think through what that would look like to somebody? is it a good thing if somebody thinks the internet is wikipedia? >> about 85% of the people in the world live within wireless coverage. only about 1/3 of the world is online. there is a huge gap that needs to be filled. it is not an infrastructure problem. it is an awareness problem. what are the benefits i can get from being online? it is a cost problem that they cannot afford data. one of the things we in
cooperation with governments and other companies are trying to do is figure out our their business models and ways to address the awareness and cost issue? one is by providing some free basic services. about a month ago, internet.org rolled out an app in zambia which provides basic services. facebook is on there, so is wikipedia, so are a number of maternal health organizations. >> that is the curated stuff i was referring to. >> things that are important to get to the people in that country. we will see how it works. so far, there is good interest. that is a way to started dressing the access problem -- start addressing the access problem. we think that is a good thing. >> it almost suggests a path
from no internet, non-neutral internet is not such a terrible alternative path to neutral internet. >> i think there are issues we are properly focused on in the united states and other areas in the developing world that will be important in the developing world as well. there are threshold issues. you've got to get them online and to see the value of connection. that is something we are focused on. >> i am the last person on earth who will defend comcast. i am the recently retired c.e.o. turner broadcasting. [laughter] i do think it needs to be recognized that these companies have made a massive investment in infrastructure. it is not a public resource. they are entitled to make money on it.
they have to respond to the marketplace. i'm going to voice a bigger concern we should have about companies like comcast. they have to respond to the marketplace. you cannot afford to have people not be able to get to service sites. they roll their eyes when people say to them you're going to discriminate. >> that is true even if they are the only broadband game in town. >> we will see you. as a citizen out of the industry, i am frightened about the implications of their growing size. we spent half an hour on privacy. nobody mentioned the cable operators. these new generations of set top boxes are capable of obtaining and keeping and using all of this private information. if you have a new generation set-top box every show you
watch every minute of the day. nobody talks about that. they talk about facebook and yahoo! >> getting to the reality of internet in 2014, many people would be saying television cable? all i need is broadband. is it the name of the game for a company like comcast is ultimately cable where broadband is the loss leader? >> they make more money on it now. there is a higher margin. because of the strength of programming companies like espn, margins have gone down. that is how they started. the potential of what these boxes can do good and bad good for advertising and bad for privacy. something i am amazed there is not more discussion of. >> we are almost out of time. i want to give the handful of
people who have yet to weigh in a moment to say something. together, we who have not spoken leaving out myself, bring us in for a landing. is there something we have missed? is there anything we have covered for which there is something vital you want to add? >> i come at it from a news media perspective and echo some of matt's concerns. it remains the case that media organizations, no matter how maligned they are today with business models having trouble provide a huge amount of important information in the united states. i fear in a metered internet situation and a non-neutrality situation we could lose a great deal of that civic league important information. >> is there anything you would ask of government? write us a check like a national
endowment? >> public spectrum for the public good. maybe a big media merger tax. we have thrown around the idea of nonprofit backplanes -- back lanes or some version of that. >> get c-span faster than ever. [laughter] latency on the agriculture committee. i should not be saying this about c-span. [laughter] >> alex jones, i am the director of the media center on public policy. a couple of things in the news today that they're on this -- bear on this. one is the lawsuit against yelp in san francisco that charged yelp with shaking down advertisers and threatening them with lower rankings if they did
not buy advertising. that was totally thrown out. yelp said we did not do it. but the point is the court said it does not matter whether you did it or not. you can do anything you please with that information. it turns the issue of a company's ownership of data and what they do with it and how they use it entirely into a first amendment issue. >> we have another panel coming up. are there things we could imagine companies subscribing to? maybe we don't need a law preventing it but something that would say we will never do it and sue us if we do. >> this decision, that is the argument and what the court bought. >> a company can make it so that they are suitable. they don't like it but they can. >> from yelp's perspective
there is never amount of money a business could pay to influence the overall. >> if i had a small tablet of what cement and a stylus, would yell be willing to write into that tablet a commitment to that through 2025? >> it has always been our commitment since the company was founded. >> every day, the farmer comes to the chicken and feeds it. [laughter] >> the court didn't even have to get to the point of addressing whether or not the claim we made was true. >> i am asking. can you imagine the company promising for the future it will resemble the past in that way? >> generally speaking, i would say most companies have an ethos they were founded on and follow. that has been one of the core