Is the Techlash Justified?


Are the perils of the Internet rooted in technology or humanity? The Internet is messy, but so is the world that it has been woven into. Amidst all of this complexity, the Internet has connected the world and made the flow of commerce and information more efficient. Unfortunately, this can be used for good or bad. We now see a growing backlash against technologies that were once praised. This session will discuss issues underlying “Techlash,” the regulatory trends that have emerged in the wake of the Internet’s perceived role in these issues, and solutions to address concerns while preserving the promise of benefits the Internet makes possible. If you’re feeling the tech backlash, this session is for you!

Keynote Speaker

Robert L. Strayer

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs

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Robert L. Strayer is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy. In this capacity, he leads development of international cybersecurity, Internet, data, and privacy policy and related negotiations with foreign governments. He has led dozens of bilateral and multilateral dialogues with foreign governments’ foreign affairs and communications ministries. Mr. Strayer was named by the President, as an Ambassador, to lead the 90-plus person U.S. delegation to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2018, and served as vice-chair of the conference. He managed the successful election of first U.S. citizen to an ITU senior management position in more than two decades. The United States also achieved successful, pro-innovation results on resolutions related to cybersecurity and emerging technologies.


Lee Rainie

Director of Internet, Science and Technology Research, Pew Research Center

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Lee Rainie is the director of internet and technology research at Pew Research Center. Under his leadership, the Center has issued more than 650 reports based on its surveys that examine people’s online activities and the internet’s role in their lives. The American Sociological Association gave Rainie its award for “excellence in the reporting on social issues” in 2014 and described his work as the “most authoritative source of reliable data on the use and impact of the internet and mobile connectivity.” Rainie is a co-author of Networked: The new social operating system and five books about the future of the internet that are drawn from the Center’s research. He gives several dozen speeches a year to government officials, media leaders, scholars and students, technology executives, librarians, and nonprofit groups about the changing media ecosystem. Prior to launching Pew Research Center’s technology research, Rainie was managing editor of U.S. News & World Report. He is a graduate of Harvard University and has a master’s degree in political science from Long Island University.


Julie Cohen

Professor of Law and Technology, Georgetown University Law Center

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Julie E. Cohen is the Mark Claster Mamolen Professor of Law and Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center. She teaches and writes about surveillance, privacy and data protection, intellectual property, information platforms, and the ways that networked information and communication technologies are reshaping legal institutions. She is the author of Between Truth and Power: The Legal Constructions of Informational Capitalism (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2019); Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code and the Play of Everyday Practice (Yale University Press, 2012), which won the 2013 Association of Internet Researchers Book Award and was shortlisted for the Surveillance & Society Journal’s 2013 Book Prize; and numerous journal articles and book chapters.

Steve DelBianco

President and CEO, NetChoice

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As Executive Director, Steve works with NetChoice members to set and execute the NetChoice agenda. Steve is a well-known expert on Internet governance, online consumer protection, and Internet taxation.

He’s provided expert testimony in twenty-six Congressional hearings, including several contentious sessions on ICANN’s transition to independence from the US government.

Steve has participated in all IGF and IGF-USA events, and is elected policy chair for ICANN’s Business Constituency.

Steve is frequently quoted on technology issues in the media, including a segment on 60 Minutes exposing barriers to innovation in residential real estate. Steve debated online taxes on CNN Situation Room, CNBC Larry Kudlow, PBS Nightly Business Report, CBS This Morning, and Marketplace Radio.

Before his work at NetChoice, Steve was founder of Financial Dynamics, an IT consulting firm that he led through the evolution of industry trends and acquisition by a national firm. Today, Steve continues to advise and invest in early stage companies as a partner in venture capital funds.

Steve holds degrees in Engineering and in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. He lives in McLean, Virginia where he is active in community government.

Karen Kornbluh

Senior Fellow and Director, German Marshall Fund’s Digital Innovation Democracy Initiative

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Ambassador Karen Kornbluh is senior fellow and director of German Marshall Fund’s Digital Innovation Democracy Initiative, working to shape a future where technology strengthens rather than undermines democratic values. This program contends with the challenge of online disinformation as well as other technology policy issues including 21st century jobs and innovation, democratic implications of frontier technologies, and cyber dimensions of national security. In addition, it will develop a framework for global transatlantic leadership on technology policy. A leading voice at the intersection of digital and economic policy, technology, and foreign affairs, Kornbluh comes to GMF from the Council on Foreign Relations, where she was senior fellow for digital policy. Kornbluh served as policy director to Barack Obama in the US Senate and was the Obama administration’s ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) from 2009-12. In this role she spearheaded development of the first global Internet Policymaking Principle and launched both the OECD's Gender Initiative and the Middle East-North Africa Women's Business Forum. In addition to her extensive government service, Kornbluh served as executive vice president for external affairs at data company Nielsen. At strategy firm Telesis, she consulted to Fortune 500 manufacturing companies. She began her career as an economist at forecasting firm Townsend-Greenspan. Kornbluh was a visiting fellow at the Center for American Policy and a Markle Fellow and she served on the U.S. Federal Economic and Statistics Advisory Council; was a senior advisor to McKinsey on technology, a member of the World Economic Forum’s AI, IoT and Future of Trust Network, and co-chair of the Chamber of Commerce’s Digital Connect forum. Kornbluh’s writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic Monthly, Democracy, and the Harvard Law and Policy Review .

Maureen Ohlhausen

Partner, Baker Botts

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Maureen Ohlhausen is a partner at Baker Botts in Washington, DC. Previously, Maureen led the Federal Trade Commission as Acting Chairman and Commissioner. She directed all aspects of the FTC's antitrust work, including merger review and conduct enforcement, and steered all FTC consumer protection enforcement, with a particular emphasis on privacy and technology issues. A thought leader, Maureen has published dozens of articles on antitrust, privacy, IP, regulation, FTC litigation, telecommunications, and international law issues in prestigious publications and has testified over a dozen times before the U.S. Congress. Maureen has relationships with officials in the U.S. and abroad, with a particular emphasis on Europe and China. She has received numerous awards, including the FTC's Robert Pitofsky Lifetime Achievement Award. Prior to her role as Commissioner, Maureen led the FTC's Internet Access Task Force, which produced an influential report analyzing competition and consumer protection legal issues in the areas of broadband and Internet.

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