TechFreedom, the premier market-oriented technology policy think tank, seeks an experienced Internet lawyer to study, document and combat a populist frenzy sweeping across the political spectrum, channeling broad outrage about the tech sector, and demanding fundamental changes to the legal framework governing consumer protection, privacy, intermediary liability, content moderation, and political speech online. This person will work closely with a second lawyer we are hiring to focus on competition policy. Together, these two scholars will study, document and combat the so-called “Techlash.” They will join our existing team of Internet lawyers.
Philosophically, we’re casting a wide net, looking for those who approach the ongoing Digital Revolution as fellow dynamists, preferring the messiness of experimentation over technocratic promises of predictability and order.
We prefer candidates based in Washington, D.C., but will consider exceptional candidates based elsewhere — especially the San Francisco Bay area and Brussels. Remote candidates must be open to regular travel to D.C., and generally greater flexibility in travel and salary. Regular trips to D.C. would be required and at least two days per month in the D.C. area expected.
About Us: TechFreedom’s offices are located in Washington, D.C., but our work addresses state, national, and international policy considerations. We advance a philosophy of dynamism in tech policy debates: optimism about the future, humility about anyone’s ability to predict the course of technological change, and skepticism about technocratic attempts to engineer a better future through regulation. We aim to transcend traditional political and industry divides with a principled message. We take deep dives into legal and policy issues and produce a variety of materials, including comments before regulatory agencies, amicus briefs in legal cases, and briefing materials for Congressional offices. Our experts are respected as thought leaders, participating regularly on panel discussions, convening our own working groups with other experts, commenting to the media, and more.
Our Approach: Just a few years ago, policymakers were still celebrating the entrepreneurs who led the Digital Revolution. Now they’re clamoring to jail business leaders or hold them personally responsible financially for administrative fines. Across the political spectrum, populists increasingly blame the Internet for undermining democracy, invading privacy, facilitating sex trafficking, fueling opioid crisis, and concentrating power over both markets and speech too narrowly — among many other of society’s greatest ills. Some of these problems are very real, but we urge caution in reshaping the policy framework that has allowed the Internet to flourish. A thoughtful response begins with understanding today’s laws, where they came from, what their shortcomings are, and the realities of enforcement before making radical changes to existing laws or the approach to enforcing them. We’re concerned not only about economic costs and lost innovation, but also about chilled speech and lost liberties.
Scope of Work: Our new Senior Fellow will, of course, spend part of their time responding to, and debunking, the arguments that the digital sky is falling and that only radical changes to existing laws can save us. But even more important is building the intellectual foundation needed for us to defend what’s good about existing laws — and to answer the legitimately hard questions raised by critics of the status quo. We expect our new colleague to help us shape a proactive agenda of scholarship. We’re particularly interested in these themes:
- The FTC: We coined the term “Federal Technology Commission” back in 2013 and it’s become truer than ever. As the default tech regulator, the FTC is focal point for many proposals to “get tough.”
- Content Moderation & Section 230. On some issues, populists blame tech companies for not doing enough to remove content they consider harmful. Yet many also attack tech companies for doing too much to moderate content—or they want regulators or courts to second-guess how such decisions are made. We’ve been a leading voice in the debate over Section 230 for years, trying to engage with legitimate arguments for new legal liability without making tech services broadly responsible for everything third parties do. That requires digging deep into existing laws, both criminal and civil.
- Free Speech: In rushing to “do something” about technology, policymakers just don’t take the First Amendment seriously enough. It’s up to us to explain how increased, and more arbitrary, regulation could chill free speech and increase the ability of politicians to manipulate the media, both old and new. We draw on our experience to explain why regulations suitable for broadcasting, cable and other traditional media won’t hold up in court.
- Privacy law: Data about users is even more an input into tech services than user content, yet American privacy law remains inchoate. New laws in California and Europe have created enormous pressure for Congress to act. The stakes for innovators could not be higher.
- Federalism: For at least the next two years, the primary battleground for the Techlash in the U.S. will likely be in the states — among legislators and attorneys general. We defend constitutional limits on how states can regulate inherently interstate Internet services, and believe a consistent federal framework must govern the Internet.
Requirements: We’re looking for a smart lawyer who is seeking to become a leading public intellectual in the debate over the future of Internet law. Here’s what we think that looks like:
- Above all, we seek a lawyer with demonstrated ability to master new areas of law and policy quickly. More specifically, we expect:
- A minimum of three years of Internet law practice
- Active (or easily reactivated) bar membership
- Working familiarity with:
- Administrative law and procedure
- Constitutional law
- Regulatory policy in general
- Experience with civil litigation is preferred by not required. Special consideration will be given to judicial clerks and those who have experience as a legislative or regulatory staffer. Active (or easily reactivated) bar membership is required.
- Exceptional public speaking ability will be a key part of this role, including panels, podcasts, media appearances, and testimony before legislative committees and regulatory agencies. This expert must be able to debate likable, polished media darlings whose narrative has far more intuitive appeal — and win.
- Excellent writing skills will be indispensable for this position. We need someone able to produce a variety of work products, with limited external editing, aimed at a spectrum of audiences, from regulatory comments, amicus briefs, and white papers to op-eds and effective tweeting.
- A willingness to participate in development efforts, including prospecting donors, donor pitch development and delivery, and relationship management.
How to Apply: Qualified candidates should submit the following application materials in one PDF document:
- One-page resume: You are welcome to also include a CV with publications, etc. if you think that will be informative.
- Cover letter: Again, we aren’t looking for anything long, just something to give us a sense of who you are and why you think TechFreedom is a good fit for you.
- Writing sample: Links to published material is fine, but anything that you think demonstrates your ability to succinctly communicate about complicated ideas is really what we are after here.
- Your social media handles: We’d like to get to know your online persona.
- Other relevant experience: Tell us whatever else in your background you think would be relevant for this role.
We plan to accept applications until this position is filled. On a rolling basis, we will be in touch with candidates who we believe are a good fit and will set up a short interview to vet candidates further.
Applications should be submitted to Talent Market via this link: https://talentmarket.org/candidates/apply-for-your-dream-job/
Questions can be directed to Katelynn Barbosa, Talent Engagement Manager at Talent Market, who is assisting with the search: firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we thank all applicants in advance for their interest in this position, we are only able to contact those to whom we can offer an interview. Only direct applications will be considered. No phone calls, please.