Shane and Richard Discuss DoH and the TPI Aspen Forum


Shane Tews was on two panels at the annual Tech Policy Institute Aspen Forum this year: one on the post-election transitions at the FCC and NTIA and the other on Internet fragmentation. The Forum was great this year, with a lot of emphasis on antitrust enforcement in the tech space. The opening keynote was delivered by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, the leading Democratic attorney general in current litigation.

On the last day, the conference featured a fireside chat with Makan Delrahim, the head of the Antitrust Division at the US Department of Justice. The Delrahim chat was especially timely as news broke just before the talk that the state attorneys general were planning to open an investigation into Silicon Valley’s business practices. Antitrust is hot right now.

The new IETF standard for DNS over HTTPS (DoH), which we discussed with Stacie Hoffman on our previous podcast and explained in our previous post, illustrates the dominant firm problem. While DoH is privacy-enhancing in a very small way, it also stands to further entrench the positions of dominant firms in the Internet advertising and security space. So the benefits of emerging tech have to be examined along with the risk to markets that comes when dominant firms expand their control over markets.

Delrahim mentioned a talk he gave at Weiser’s Silicon Flatirons center in the Spring; check it out if you’re interested in antitrust, data collection, and whether antitrust has relevance in markets for “free” goods and services.

Hot Topics

  • Transition teams don’t always find their recommendations are followed, because politics plays such a large role in agency priorities.
  • There are four major proposals about how to license and enable use of the C-Band.
  • Despite RT’s drumbeat of fear around 5G in the US, Russia is moving ahead with millimeter wave 5G deployment.
  • The DoH standard was all rainbows and unicorns at the outset, but as we move into the implementation phase there are huge issues with entrenchment.
  • According to Google’s chief economist Hal Varian, consumers are more comfortable asking questions to Google than to their doctors. Is Google giving us good answers?
  • Democratic presidential candidates are offering plans for rural development, broadband deployment, and Internet regulation. What are these plans and what will they do?
  • State AGs won a consent agreement from telcos to implement robocall blocking. Is the technology up to the task?
  • Privacy/data security is likely to the number one issue this fall. States are enacting their own laws, but Congress hasn’t been able to create a national data security law. We need some consistency in this space.
  • We’re all eager for the DC Circuit to rule in the challenge to the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order. Net neutrality is a distraction that takes policy makers’ eyes off the ball.
  •  Data on rural broadband deployment is not what it should be. Efforts to improve it are underway, but they’re not ripe yet.
  • Expect a lot of drama around Internet policy this fall!