Workshop: Broadband Consumer Context

1:30 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
Washington, DC
Broadband internet access presents consumers with a range of challenges and opportunities as the internet becomes a focal point for commercial transactions, social networking, and a host of activities pertaining to information gathering and exchange. E-commerce can save consumers time and money as they search out the best bargains from home. Online health care information can give users the wherewithal to ask better questions of their health care providers or seek support and advice from others in the face of a health care problem.
These activities typically involve the sharing of information – financial and personal – with institutions and individuals that make online access worthwhile. This may raise concerns among some consumers about the real or perceived risks that their information may wind up in the wrong hands.
This workshop will examine the broader context of the consumer experience from the perspective of the benefits it confers to consumers, the risks that may be associated with the benefits, and the obligations broadband connectivity may impose on consumers and institutions in an environment of pervasive data sharing and availability.



The following are some of the preliminary topics that will be covered at this workshop. If you would like to discuss any other topics, please send us your suggestions.
  • What are the nature and scope of consumer benefits to e-commerce, online comparison shopping, and other activities that may confer informational benefits to people in their interactions with government, health care providers, and other institutions? What, for instance, are the efficiency gains from the internet’s capacity to help people organize activities in their communities (e.g., with respect to sports leagues, church activities, and volunteer organizations)?
  • To what extent is an individual’s personal information at risk in the course of everyday online activities, whether they are associated with commerce, communication, or collaboration? Are there other online safety considerations?
  • As more applications and personal data migrate to “cloud computing” platform, what are the policy challenges pertaining to security of data on such platforms, as well as ownership and control of users’ data?
  • Among consumers, industry, government, and civil society institutions, what is the proper locus of responsibility for addressing these policy challenges?


1:30 pm Workshop Introduction, John Horrigan, Consumer Research Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative, Moderator
1:40 pm Panel 1- Evolving Technology: New Challenges for Consumers
  • Michael R. Nelson, Visiting Professor, Communication, Culture and Technology, Georgetown University
  • Sascha Meinrath, Director - Open Technology Initiative, New America Foundation
  • Joel Kelsey, Policy Analyst, Consumers Union 
  • Ari Schwartz, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Debra Berlyn, President, Consumer Policy Solutions 
2:05 pm Panelist Discussion and Responses to Questions
2:50 pm Break
3:00 pm Panel 2 - Meeting New Challenges: Tools & Techniques
3:05 pm Panelists
  • Adam Thierer, Director, Center for Digital Media Freedom and Senior Fellow, Progress and Freedom Foundation
  • Alan Simpson, Director of Policy, Common Sense Media
  • Burke Culligan, Senior Director - Product Management, Yahoo!, Inc.
  • Michael W. McKeehan, Executive Director - Internet and Technology Policy, Verizon
  • Timothy Sparapani, Director, Public Policy, Facebook
3:30 pm Panelist Discussion and Responses to Questions
4:15 pm Closing Statements, Moderator
4:30 pm Adjournment

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