During the second academic year of the COVID-19 pandemic, CTIC faculty members contributed to the discourse, research, and study of unprecedented pandemic-related issues and challenges.
David Abrams amassed empirical data on COVID-19 and crime rates and launched the website Crime in Major U.S. Cities (citycrimestats. com), which began as crime tracker during the shutdown but has since become a source of criminal justice data from 27 major U.S. cities. Professor Abrams offered his analysis of this data in an article entitled COVID and Crime: An Early Empirical Look, which was published in the Journal of Public Economics in February 2021.
Tom Baker launched the website Covid Coverage Litigation Tracker (cclt.law.upenn.edu) in May 2021, which provides empirical research on insurance disputes and resolutions during the pandemic.
For Penn Law Today, Allison Hoffman explained the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which was signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, and its impact on food security, paid sick leave, and COVID testing. In May 2020, she co-wrote a paper entitled Long-Term Care Policy after Covid 19 – Solving the Nursing Home Crisis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Washington Post drew upon R. Polk Wagner’s patent law expertise in a May 2021 article about looming global patent disputes over the COVID-19 vaccine and the Biden Administration’s support of IP waivers. Professor Wagner explained that “foreign competition enabled by waivers…is unlikely to emerge until at least 2022” with supplies “likely to be aimed at developing nations that cannot afford the higher prices paid by wealthy countries.”
Tess Wilkinson-Ryan wrote two articles in 2020 for The Atlantic that covered different psychological stressors arising from the pandemic. Her first article covered the challenges of remote learning and the psychological tax on students. The second examined the psychological effect of vague and confusing guidelines on reopening businesses.
Christopher Yoo, along with Apratim Vidyarthi L’22, wrote an article entitled Privacy in the Age of Contact Tracing: An Analysis of Contact Tracing Apps in Different Statutory and Disease Frameworks. Additionally, Professor Yoo and CTIC fellows Müge Haseki and Leon Gwaka contributed to Education for the Most Marginalised Post-COVID-19: Guidance for Governments in the Uses of Digital Technologies in Education, a November 2020 report issued by the UNESCO Chair in ICT for Development.
The 1 World Connected initiative was launched in 2016 to provide an empirical foundation to efforts to close the global digital divide. Only a little more than half of the world’s nearly eight billion people are currently able to enjoy the benefits of Internet connectivity. The data gathered from 1 World Connected’s research projects provide key decision makers like government departments and international non-government organizations with a data-driven foundation for determining what really works to bring the unconnected online.
1 World Connected’s initial work focused on creating databases of the technologies and business models used to establish connectivity. More recent studies have explored the use of municipal fiber and fixed wireless to connect people in smaller cities and rural areas in the United States, information that is critical when allocating the $65 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Fund recently enacted into law. Another study presented in February 2021 examined efforts to extend availability of the Internet in tribal lands. Other ongoing work includes studying the potential for an emerging approach known as community networking, which leverages local resources and engagement. To help share these learnings, 1 World Connected served as the lead convenor of the Dynamic Coalition on Innovative Approaches to Connecting the Unconnected created as part of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum. In addition, the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology invited Christopher Yoo to participate in the Roundtable on Global Connectivity as part of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.
1 World Connected’s work has expanded to include the social benefits created by extending connectivity. The most recently completed research project is a study titled the Impact of Mobile Internet Uptake on Women in Bangladesh and Ghana in partnership with the GSMA. The study examined the impact of mobile Internet adoption and use utilizing a novel well-being index. Results revealed certain mobile Internet use patterns and effects on well-being that were not previously reported. The study also examined the differences between men and women regarding Internet use, the positive and negative impacts of mobile connectivity, the mechanisms through which mobile Internet connectivity delivers this impact, and the role social norms play in the process. 1 World Connected also contributed to the study Accelerating Female Leadership in the Digital Economy: What Does the Data Tell Us?.
Education represents another major focus for 1 World Connected. For example, the tribal lands paper discussed above contains an evaluation of the impact of Internet connectivity on educational outcomes. In addition, Professor Yoo served as a Core Team member for the report on Technology and Education for the Most Marginalised Post-COVID-19 led by UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, in which the 1 World Connected team co-authored a chapter of the Report and a key Guidance Note on connectivity. This past year, Professor Yoo was named an external expert and advisor for the UN Working Group on School Connectivity, which also serves as an advisory group for GIGA, a UNICEF and ITU-backed project centered on global school connectivity that aims to connect every school to the Internet by 2030.
At the Global Digital Health Forum 2020, CTIC fellow Müge Haseki presented on socio-technical gaps and maternal health outcomes of two mHealth projects in South Asia. The presentation was derived from Characteristics of At-Scale mHealth Projects in the Global South: A Case Study Approach, a 1 World Connected study and 2019 paper written by Haseki, CTIC fellow Sharada Srinivasan, and Professor Yoo. The aim of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of the long-term use and impact of mobile health services. The project evaluated five health projects at different levels of scale in five countries to understand in what ways the scaled projects are similar or different than those that did not scale. The team is also pursuing ongoing longitudinal work in on health projects in Nepal and Vanuatu.
The Project Continues
The 1 World Connected team will continue to produce research material, including publications, policy briefs, videos, and podcasts, and participate in prestigious forums such as The Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC) and the Global Digital Health Forum. CTIC will also continue its collaborations with numerous international organizations to promote Internet adoption. These include GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, and EQUALS: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. Looking ahead, CTIC fellow Leon Gwaka sees more opportunities for the 1 World Connected project. As he explained, “Many new connectivity initiatives have been and are being commissioned before and in response to COVID. Our work is to profile these to produce empirical evidence on what really works.”
On November 3, 2019, the Knight Foundation awarded CTIC and Penn’s Warren Center for Network & Data Services a $350,000 three-year grant to fund new independent research into the impact of data on the business strategies of digital platforms. Since then, this pathbreaking project has been well underway.
The interdisciplinary project explores two areas: digital platforms’ greater reliance on algorithms and data, and the economic implications of vertical integration and other emerging business models used by technology companies. According to project co-leader Christopher Yoo, “the goal of the EODS initiative is to develop a better understanding of the market dynamics for online services and the business strategies digital platforms are pursuing.” He added that the new research “will result in a stronger foundation for antitrust enforcement and regulatory intervention in today’s evolving digital markets.” Joining Professor Yoo as co-leader is Rakesh Vohra, the George A. Weiss and Lydia Bravo Weiss University Professor of Economics and Electrical and Systems Engineering and the Warren Center’s founding director.
Professors Yoo and Vohra kicked off the project with a virtual event in October 2020 titled Economics of Digital Services: A New Initiative to Promote Research on Digital Platforms. The event featured legal, economics, and technology experts who offered their perspectives on which areas of research would best support relevant and effective policymaking for digital markets.
After a competitive grant application process, CTIC and the Warren Center selected nine projects led by scholars from various Penn schools and other U.S. and international academic institutions. The grantees and their projects were announced in December 2020. The projects cover digital advertising, blockchains and smart contracts, ad-blocking and anti-tracking, search engines, cloud computing, value of social media, data neutrality, big data and employment, and the value of technology releases in the Apple iOS app ecosystem.
This first phase of the initiative will conclude in fall 2021 with the release of full papers, an EODS blog with articles by the researchers, and a symposium where findings will be presented and discussed among initiative leaders and researchers. The second phase will follow with a call for grant applications covering new research areas for 2022.
In recent years, antitrust has emerged as one of the most important and dynamic areas of law, particularly with respect to high technology industries. At the same time, competition law has become global as China and the European Union have become increasingly important enforcement authorities. The United States, European Commission, and China have brought cases against big tech companies and are in the process of considering legislation that would reform the way competition law principles would apply to digital platforms.
To help contribute to these debates, CTIC initiated a multi-year research project to compare how key antitrust issues are handled in China, the EU, and the United States. Phase one of the project focused on due process in antitrust enforcement. The resulting research had a significant impact on the U.S. Justice Department Antitrust Division and its Multilateral Framework on Procedures, the Framework for Competition Agency Procedures of the International Competition Network (ICN), and the Recommendation on Procedural Fairness of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Christopher Yoo and Yong Huang, Professor and Director of the Competition Law Centre at the University of International Business and Economics and member of the Expert Advisory Committee under the Anti-Monopoly Commission of China’s State Council, presented their findings on October 14, 2020, in an online event moderated by Weiwei Shen GL’12 GRL’18, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Legal Research on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Phase two examines the antitrust issues posed by big data. As legislative proposals have taken an increasingly regulatory turn, the research team laid the foundation for a series of research papers applying insights from the research on past regulatory interventions to evaluate different aspects of current proposals that should appear during the 2021-22 academic year.
Professor Yoo noted that the response to the program has been overwhelming. “It has attracted interest from enforcement authorities and companies in all three jurisdictions, all of which recognize the need for this type of comparative research.”
The initiative also draws on the expertise of Thomas Fetzer, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law at University of Mannheim’s School of Law and Economics. The project is supported by Penn Global’s China Research and Engagement Fund and corporate contributors.
During the 2020-21 academic year, Christopher Yoo completed his second two-year term as a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).
The BDAC’s mission was to provide advice and make recommendations to the FCC on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment. Professor Yoo served as a BDAC member from its inception in January 2017 through the conclusion of its work in March 2021.
Building on his prior service on the Working Group charged with drafting a State Model Code for Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure and Investment and the Ad Hoc Committee on Rates and Fees, Professor Yoo focused his more recent efforts on the Working Group for Increasing Broadband Investment in Low-Income Communities. The Working Group concentrated on both deployment and adoption, paying particular attention to insights drawn from responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BDAC adopted its report and recommendations in December 2020.
“High-speed Internet access creates undeniable economic, educational, and health benefits for users,” said Professor Yoo. “The FCC has already incorporated important elements of the BDAC’s recommendations into its official work. We hope that our further efforts can help identify additional ways to provide expanded Internet access to citizens across the country.”
Alicia Lai L’21 received the 2021 Jan Jancin Award sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property Law. The award is given to the law student from a diverse background who best exemplifies excellence in the field of intellectual property law through their employment experience, coursework, leadership of intellectual property law student organizations, and published writings on intellectual property law topics.
“I’m honored to have been nominated and selected for the Jan Jancin Award,” said Lai. “I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meld my background in science, art, and technology in the fascinating, dynamic world of intellectual property law.”
Lai served as co-president of the Penn Intellectual Property Group and co-chaired the CTIC-sponsored 13th Annual Penn Intellectual Property Group Symposium. She was the senior editor of the Journal of Law & Innovation and articles editor for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. She was the sole author of articles in such distinguished venues as Scientific American and co-authored works with CTIC faculty members Christopher Yoo, Cary Coglianese, and Osagie Imasogie GL’85. She also conducted pro bono work for Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
Her education and work experience before attending Penn Carey Law demonstrated a strong interest in and commitment to intellectual property. She received an A.B. in neuroscience from Princeton University and spent summers interning in Pfizer’s legal department and in the IP practice in Jones Day’s Shanghai office. She also worked at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Bioethics in New York City, and cofounded a medical device cybersecurity start-up.
She has accepted clerkships with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after her graduation.
Lai emphasized her gratitude for Penn Carey Law’s institutional support. “Conferring and coauthoring with leading scholars on contemporary issues—artificial intelligence regulation, IP theft, and vaccine waivers, among others—has been such an incredible experience.”
Lai will be recognized in person at the AIPLA’s annual meeting in October 2021.
The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) asked Christopher Yoo and Cary Coglianese to conduct research that served as the bases for recommendations it adopted in December 2020.
The first project, on “Protected Materials in Public Rulemaking Dockets,” was motivated by how the greater opportunity for the public to participate in governmental processes made possible by the Internet has heightened the risks of online disclosure of personally and commercially sensitive information. Agencies must now strike a balance between the need to promote governmental transparency and the obligation to protect individual privacy. The report, written by Professor Yoo, was released on November 24, 2020.
The second project, on “Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence,” explores the questions agencies should consider when deploying artificial intelligence. These include potential bias, transparency, procedural due process, capacity building, and delegation. The Conference commissioned Professor Coglianese to write a report on “A Framework for Governmental Use of Machine Learning,” which was released on December 8, 2020. The Conference adopted Recommendation 2020-2 based on Professor Yoo’s report and Official Statement #20 based on Professor Coglianese’s report on December 16, 2021, at its 73rd Plenary Session. Both were published in the Federal Register on January 22, 2021.
In 2020, University of Pennsylvania joined the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), a group of thirty-six colleges and universities committed to building the nascent field of public interest technology and educating a new generation of civically engaged technologists.
Leading the Penn PIT-UN initiative, in partnership with the Provost’s Office, is Christopher Yoo and Michael Delli Carpini, Faculty Director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program (SNF Paideia) and the Oscar H. Dandy Professor of Communication and Democracy at Annenberg School for Communication. The initiative integrates technology, public policy, business, law, ethics, governance, and social justice. In an interview, Professor Yoo stated that “academic disciplines have historically been siloed,” particularly STEM studies, which have been “singularly focused on technical topics.” Academic institutions have increasingly recognized that this focus does a disservice to society, he explained.
Professors Yoo and Carpini formed a steering committee of Penn faculty and student representatives to identify ways to introduce ethics and social impact into existing classes and to develop new ones dedicated to public interest technology. Affiliated with the greater PIT-UN initiative at Penn, PIT@Penn is a new student organization reflecting the mission of PIT-UN with a specific emphasis on career pipelines. The organization hosts a variety of events ranging from career speaker panels to skill sharing workshops.
In spring 2021, Professor Yoo and senior lecturer Brit Shields taught Technological Innovation and Civil Discourse in a Dynamic World, a SNF Paideia designated course that will help ready Penn undergraduates for cross-disciplinary dialogue and civil discourse grounded in technical expertise, cultural context, and inclusivity to optimize the benefits of emerging technologies.
PIT-UN also awarded a team of Penn faculty a grant for “The Penn-CMU Digital Health Privacy Initiative.” The initiative’s overarching goal is to advance research, training, and policy to address the privacy and discrimination risks from online digital health tracking and profiling.
Tiffany Keung L’22 and Apratim Vidyarthi L’22 won the 13th Annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, presented by the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law. The pair also won “Best Brief.”
“We were incredibly lucky to receive guidance and moot court feedback from Mike Berry at Ballard Spahr, our ABA appointed mentor, as well as from Professors Polk Wagner and Jennifer Rothman,” said Keung.
The annual competition introduces minority law students to the practice of media law and connects participants to practicing lawyers active in the communications law bar. Teams of two students are given a set of hypothetical facts surrounding a hypothetical case involving a national communications law issue for which they then submit an appellate brief and, if qualifying, present oral argument.
Competition finalists are offered summer employment opportunities with ABA Forum sponsoring organizations that include top law firms, media companies, and First Amendment nonprofits, as well as cash prizes for best brief, oral argument, and overall winners.
The 2021 competition, held entirely remotely, covered topics surrounding traditional media law issues as well as digital media and regulatory advocacy. Partners at top law firms, in-house counsel at major media companies, and members of the judiciary served as the competition’s judges.
“Apratim and I were both interested in this moot court competition because it dealt with issues of technology, privacy, and free speech, and we both worked in the tech space before law school,” said Keung. “The fact pattern and legal issues dealt with whether an online forum user could be held liable for the defamatory allegations made by another anonymous forum user.”
The first round of the competition included a blind judging of the submitted briefs; the four highest-scoring teams moved on to the semifinal round. The “Best Brief” is awarded to the highest-scoring individual brief with a $1,000 cash prize for each team member. At the semifinal round, competitors presented their case before a panel of communications lawyers. The four individual competitors with the highest combined brief and oral argument scores moved on to the final round where they argued the case before a panel of prominent sitting judges. “It was a fascinating topic that brought together some of the 1L classes that Apratim and I took together such as civil procedure and Internet Law,” added Keung.
Penn Carey Law recognized CTIC faculty members R. Polk Wagner and Cynthia Dahl for teaching excellence in the 2020-2021 academic year.
Professor Wagner received the A. Leo Levin Award for Excellence in an Introductory Course for his in-person teaching of contracts as well as intellectual property, among other classes. Students remarked that he encouraged them to discuss their “own opinions of the cases” and “think like lawyers,” and made himself available “nearly 24/7.”
Professor Dahl received the Experiential Teaching Award for her teaching and leadership. Students described her as “incredible” and “supportive,” stating that her “supervision is unparalleled” as the leader and facilitator of the Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic, a “teaching law firm” at Penn Carey Law that allows lawyer-supervised students to provide pro bono transactional intellectual property counsel to individual, for-profit, and non-profit clients.
The virtual teaching format required by the COVID-19 pandemic inspired Tess Wilkinson-Ryan and David Hoffman to experiment with an innovative approach to help bring the material they are teaching to life. Starting in 2020, they supplemented 1L lectures with their new podcast, Promises, Promises. The podcast highlights important cases in contract law. Each episode covers a different case, walking students through the important aspects of the decision and legal reasoning. Episodes covered Hoffman v. Red Owl Stores (Wisconsin promissory estoppel), Vokes v. Arthur Murray Dance Studios (student’s claim for rescission on a contract for dance lessons), and Alaska Packers v. Domenico (preexisting duty rule and economic duress), among other cases.
Promises, Promises was renewed for its second year. The podcast is available on all major podcast streaming platforms.
In spring 2021, Jennifer Rothman arrived at Penn Carey Law as a visiting professor. Her scholarly interests in intellectual property, particularly in the right of publicity area for which she is considered one of the world’s leading experts, naturally led her to affiliate with CTIC.
The right of publicity is an intellectual property right that protects against the misappropriation of a person’s name, likeness, or other aspects of their identity for commercial purposes. The law covering right of publicity varies widely from state to state. To clarify the law and its application, Professor Rothman created Rothman’s Roadmap to the Right of Publicity, a website that provides an interactive overview of each state’s right of publicity laws, reports on breaking news, and provides commentary (www.rightofpublicityroadmap.com).
In the introduction of her book, The Right of Publicity: Privacy Reimagined for a Public World published by Harvard University Press in 2018, Professor Rothman makes clear her view on people’s right of publicity: “We all live our lives in public. But by doing so we should not become public property.”
In the News
co-sponsored by Penn Program on Regulation
from Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
CTIC Interdisciplinary Scholarship Program accepting applications from JD students pursuing joint degrees in law and technology
The Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition’s Interdisciplinary Scholarship Program awards $40,000 to up to three students to help offset tuition expenses for their additional year of study at Penn Engineering. Penn Engineering masters’ programs application deadline: February 1, 2023 CTIC Interdisciplinary Scholarship application deadline: February 15, 2023
The Equality Machine: Harnessing Digital Technology for a Brighter, More Inclusive Future
Virtual panel co-sponsored by CTIC and Penn Medical Ethics & Health Policy
Co-sponsored by CTIC
Article on Rothman’s Roadmap to the Right of Publicity