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Tobin Center for Economic Policy, Yale University;
Consumer protection law is vital for ensuring that market-based economies work in the economic interest of consumers as well as businesses, and thus to the benefit of civil society. This is the case for online markets just as it is for offline markets. However, despite broad consensus on these points, too little has been done to ensure that the various standards applicable in offline markets are sufficient or adequate to guarantee efficiency and fairness in online markets. This paper outlines eleven key features of online markets that might necessitate standards additional to or different from those that are applicable offline, and provides a menu of possible policies in relation to each. Many of these are general to all online markets, but some are specific to the largest digital platfroms. Many if not most of our policy proposals could be enacted through minor changes to existing law or regulation or through decisional law interpreting existing legislation. Some have already been implemented in some jurisdictions. What is needed in all jurisdictions, however, is a regulator or regulators with sufficient expertise around technical issues such as A/B testing and algorithmic decision-making to understand, anticipate, and remedy the myriad ways that online firms can disadvantage consumers.
Tobin Center for Economic Policy, Yale University;
This paper identifies a set of possible regulations that could be used both to make the search market more competitive and simultaneously ameliorate the harms flowing from Google's current monopoly position. The purpose of this paper is to identify conceptual problems and solutions based on sound economic principles and to begin a discussion from which robust and specific policy recommendations can be drafted.
National League of Cities;
As Congress debates the President's proposed American Jobs Plan (AJP) and an infrastructure infusion, the National League of Cities (NLC) met with city leaders across the United States to ask one simple question: "What is your top infrastructure priority?" From the smallest to largest communities, every place has a story to tell, and Ready to Rebuild shows a range of transportation, water, broadband and workforce projects across the country from communities of all sizes. While projects are different, the message from local officials is the same: infrastructure is a job worth doing, but in most places, it's now beyond what the local government can handle on their own. Far worse, the perpetual waiting game in Washington means the risk and consequences are building up to an emergency spill over point. Most local governments know exactly what needs to be done to fix their infrastructure, but they simply can't afford it.
The Simons Foundation is pleased to present this copy of our 2020 annual report. Staying connected through Zoom, emails and conference calls, our grantees and scientists made groundbreaking advancements over the last year.
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation;
Our world is becoming increasing Funesian in that we are perceiving and storing more and more information in the form of data. But, as with Funes, access to information is not the same as understanding. Are we also better at extracting meaning from all of this data? What does understanding rely on – is it only possible through sophisticated data-processing techniques or is something else required? This paper will briefly discuss three common pitfalls related to the challenge of extracting meaning from data.
National Research University;
The goal of the study is to identify digital practices, key barriers and incentives for the digitalization of Russian NGOs. The objectives of the study are: form an inventory of digitalization practices amongst Russian NGOs and assess their prevalence; identify key barriers to digital adoption and integration in NGO operations, including in terms of staff digital competency and NGOs' resource capabilities; identify the existence and nature of the effects of digitalization practices on individual aspects of the organization; identify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the digitalization of NGOs; compile an inventory of best digital practices for NGOs (including by organization size and activity area) anddevelop recommendations for digitalization of the non-profit sector.
International Forum for Democratic Studies;
Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a central role in addressing disinformation's growing impact on democracy. Given the vast scope of the global disinformation challenge, the landscape for CSOs working in this space has evolved rapidly in recent years. Established efforts to combat disinformation have incorporated the new challenges posed by social media into their agendas, while new initiatives have emerged to fill gaps in research, monitoring, and advocacy. The work of these organizations in the disinformation fight is critical for positively shaping policy making, improving platform responses, and enhancing citizen knowledge and engagement.Yet, CSOs face ongoing challenges in this complex and fast-changing field. How has civil society grown in its understanding and response to the digital disinformation challenge and what should be done to further empower this work?To acquire insights into these questions, this paper draws on two methods—a mapping exercise of civil society initiatives and a survey of leading CSOs working in this field. This approach reveals that CSOs bring a wide range of skill sets to the problem of digital disinformation. Some organizations focus on digital media literacy and education; others engage in advocacy and policy work. Another segment has developed expertise in fact-checking and verification. Other organizations have developed refined technical skills for extracting and analyzing data from social media platforms.This research yielded several clear observations about the state of CSO responses to disinformation and, in turn, suggests several recommendations for paths forward.
US Water Alliance;
Access to water and sanitation services should not hinge on background, geography, or how much money someone makes—but it often does. Studies show that between 2012 and 2019, local water bills increased 31 percent nationally, far outpacing inflation and the consumer price index. Historical declines in federal support for water infrastructure have made this trend even worse. Local officials and water utility leaders have had no choice but to raise local water and sewer rates to pay for the needed operation, capital, and maintenance costs. Without federal and state support, local water and wastewater rates have increasingly become unaffordable for millions of Americans, and utilities have operated with outdated billing systems and often struggled to enroll low-income residents into the modest assistance available.Financial stress incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis has brought water affordability into sharp focus, and innovators have been seeking solutions to meet their communities' rising needs. The water and wastewater utilities in Louisville, Kentucky, provide one such case. Louisville shows how new, smarter solutions to bill relief are helping people in need while improving the utility-customer relationship by balancing care, bill assistance, and debt relief with needed revenue stability to maintain essential water systems. This case study explores key facets of the challenge, what Louisville achieved for its residents, and how the city's approach provides a model for other utilities to consider as they move forward. Sections discuss: How traditional customer assistance efforts have failed to meet customer needs, struggled with enrollment, and overlooked their fundamental purpose of guarding against revenue instability.What a modern, user-friendly approach to bill assistance looks like and how, combined with compassionate messaging, it can shift utility-customer payment and service relationship for the better.Why establishing innovative bill assistance options is especially wise given current and future federal funding opportunities to provide debt relief.Longer-term actions the federal government should prioritize to make safe, reliable water and wastewater service affordable for all.
Benton Institute for Broadband & Society;
After a year of pandemic and crisis, the scale of our national digital divide is at last recognized by policymakers at all levels, with federal, state, and local governments making unprecedented commitments to narrow the divide.While most of the funds to address these challenges flow from the federal government, it is at the state, county, and local levels where remarkable innovation has developed.Particularly critical in this moment are state-level efforts to distribute federal funds and incubate local initiatives.Those states that have long-established programs for addressing rural broadband gaps offer a valuable history of lessons learned, both of what works and what doesn't. Through more than a decade of significant efforts and experimentation in broadband funding strategies, new innovations and trends have emerged that offer insights for other states that are developing new rural broadband funding programs or retooling existing programs.Given this rich set of data and experience, this paper describes the commonalities among many of the leading state rural broadband funding programs and recommends best practices.
This report presents the findings of a nationally representative, probability-based telephone survey of more than 1,000 parents of children ages three to 13, all with household incomes below the national median for families in the United States (i.e., $75,000). The survey was conducted in March and April of 2021: one year into the pandemic, and a crucial turning point. Parents could reflect on a full year of remote learning and pandemic parenting, and also look forward—thanks to the proliferation of vaccines—to their children's full and safe return to in-person schooling in the fall. But this survey goes beyond documenting families' challenges. We also uncover what parents feel they have learned through this pandemic year, from increased confidence in their ability to help their child with schoolwork to greater comfort communicating with teachers and developing a deeper understanding of their child's learning patterns. And we look ahead to the next school year, delving into what parents think schools' priorities should be for smoothing their children's transitions to, or back into, the classroom in the fall of 2021.
Kansas Health Institute;
With social distancing, reduced health care services and school building closings during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing need for adequate internet access, which is required for telehealth, education, business and social activities. While information is available on areas with broadband coverage, households still might not have adequate internet access due to technical and infrastructure issues, or prohibitive costs.This brief examines variations in adequate internet access by geography, population characteristics, insurance coverage and other factors to better understand how each one impacts Kansans.
Ethical Journalism Network;
This policy report provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities that the media are facing in Slovakia. Based on a number of interviews that took place with key Slovak media stakeholders, it finds that the Slovak media landscape is currently the freest of the Visegrad countries, despite an increase in both government and oligarch control of media. These findings are in line with its RSF Press Freedom Ranking of 33rd place in 2020, up two places on the previous year. The murder of investigative reporter, Ján Kuciak, in 2018 was a turning point which established sense of solidarity amongst the media profession which is coupled with an apparent desire amongst some of the public to investigative journalism, demonstrated through their financial support of a number of influential independent media titles. There are some concerns in relation to mainstream media ownership which appears to remain firmly in the grip of a select number of financial groups and oligarchs with strong business and economic interests although a recent sale of shares in leading publication the Denník SME to the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), a non-for-profit investment fund for independent media raises some hope. The government also continues to control the public media through politicised appointment processes and public advertising spend. The popularity of websites, which are typified by health disinformation and anti-European Union narratives, is a further cause for concern as similar narratives are now being disseminated by some of the online media. The tradition for investigative journalism is strong in Slovakia, however, and it is having some impact on policy and tackling corruption.