Tech Law Policy Blog Tracking the Most Important Research and Developments in Tech Law & Policy

Friday Links 3/22/19


Miranda Perry Fleischer and Daniel Hemel are coming out with a new article on the architecture of basic income.

This article does an excellent job explaining the arguments and counterarguments related to Universal Basic Income, as well as providing a proposal for how such a program might be implemented here.

I’m deeply skeptical because of UBI for three reasons. First, given the scope and cost of the project, there would need to be overwhelming political consensus in favor of it to bring it to fruition, and no such consensus exists or is likely to come about any time soon. Second, I think that implementation of UBI in any developed nation would likely exacerbate existing tensions with immigration. The authors’ UBI proposal suggests a per person income for every working and non-working adult and child at $6000. This is twice the per-capita income worldwide. It’s not hard to see how this provides even greater incentives for cross-border migration from poor to rich nations. Third, and not least, the cost. The authors’ proposal would entail a “total annual cost for a UBI of $1.878 trillion.” That’s about half of the total collected revenue of the United States government every year. This would only be possible with deep cuts to existing programs and a massive increase in taxes. It’s hard to imagine either being political palatable.

Not unrelated: Bill Gates proposes a robot tax for automated systems that take the place of human workers. AOC appears to agree with him.  It’s not obvious to me how you would actually implement such a tax, but I’m open to the idea.

Not shocking: According to a report, the vast majority of EU government websites are in flagrant violation of the GDPR.

Most of the attention related to tech antitrust has been focused on Facebook and Google lately, but if there is one tech company that has been reported to be consistently engaged in intentional, unrepentant anti-competitive behavior, it’s Uber.

“From the nice-try dept.” Slashdot tells us that Google is doing its best fend off more fines from the EU by bolstering its competitors in search.

This was probably already true, but in case there was any doubt, Putin officially makes it illegal to criticize him in public.

This may seem unrelated to tech policy issues, but this article is excellent and important. Sticking Points: Epistemic Pluralism in Legal Challenges to Mandatory Vaccination Policies, by

James R. Steiner-Dillon.

From the abstract:

The Article develops a principle of “epistemic public reason,” which incorporates a principle of epistemic reasonableness by which to distinguish those epistemic viewpoints entitled to moral duties of civility and reciprocity by fellow citizens. Finding that most empirical objections to vaccination mandates are either directly or indirectly epistemically unreasonable, the Article concludes that the coercive imposition of immunization requirements on epistemic outliers is consistent with the principle of epistemic public reason. It also clarifies more generally the nature and extent of public officials’ obligation to offer reasons on contested empirical questions relevant to public policy that all reasonable citizens, including dissenters, can reasonably accept.

If you follow the history of “fake news” and systematic misinformation campaigns, many of the techniques and tactics adopted in political information warfare were originally created and designed by anti-vaccination campaigners. This is a canary in the coalmine issue, if ever there was one. How we as a society deal with misinformation in this context will be a harbinger for how we as a pluralistic society manage misinformation in other contexts. There are times when reasonable minds cannot disagree, and if we aren’t willing to take a stand in those moments, we’re going to be in trouble.

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