Net Neutrality, Local Elections, and Tech: Government Track Sessions for SXSW 2018

January 23, 2018 Neha Aziz

The Government Track focuses on areas related to government policy on all levels as well as privacy issues on both the personal and corporate level. Specific topics include policy and civic engagement on the local, state, and federal level; the relationship between government and technology; big data tracking; and surveillance concerns. Discover what our 2018 Government Track has to offer.

“Government is omnipresent. Whether we know it or not, so many parts of Government impact our daily lives,” says SXSW Programmer Monica Sack. “Understanding those different areas, how they affect us, and different ways in which we can participate will hopefully help us all stay engaged in the process.” During Conflicting Visions: The Debate on Net Neutrality, panelists discuss the ramifications of the repeal of the existing rules on Net Neutrality, while in Reforming the Vote lawmakers weigh in on how voter reform can potentially harm voter turnout.

Dive deeper into the Government Track as we highlight different sessions that discuss net neutrality, local elections, tech, and much more. Government Track sessions are held March 9-12 with primary access to all badge types.

Government Session Highlights

Conflicting Visions: The Debate on Net Neutrality

Speakers: Gigi Sohn (Mozilla/Georgetown Law/Open Society Foundations), Maura Corbett(Glen Echo Group LLC), and Curt Levey (Committee for Justice)

Net Neutrality is the highest profile issue in FCC history to-date. After the 2015 approval of Net Neutrality rules, upheld in 2016 by the US Appellate Court, many thought the battle was over. But in June 2017, Chairman Ajit Pai announced his intention to roll back these protections and in December 2017 the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal the existing Net Neutrality rules. We’re bringing together leaders from both sides to discuss what’s next and what this means for the Internet we know and love today.

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Can Small-Donor Progressives Win Local Elections?

Speakers: Beto O’Rourke (US House of Representatives) and Ryan Grimm (The Intercept)

Bernie Sanders showed that big money isn’t needed to run a presidential campaign, changing the national calculus. But can the same be done in Texas? Will 2018 be the year small dollars make the difference at the local level? Join us for a candid conversation between Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, who is running against Ted Cruz for Senate and Ryan Grim, The Intercept’s DC Bureau Chief.

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Tech Under Trump: A 2017/2018 Scorecard

Speakers: Gary Shapiro (Consumer Technology Association), Aneesh Chopra (CareJourney), Matt Lira (White House – Office of American Innovation), and Michaela Ross (Bloomberg Law)

Despite the news headlines, the tech community and the Trump administration share many of the same goals, specifically around building a vibrant, 21st-Century American workforce, expanding access to broadband and updating our nation’s infrastructure. The endgame – for everyone – is to ensure that America leads the world in innovation. One year in, how is tech’s policy agenda faring in the age of Trump? What’s worked? What hasn’t? And what are the top policy prospects for the coming year?

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Resist Tech & What Influences Congress

Speakers: Yuri Beckelman (Office of Congressmen Mark Takano), Travis Moore (TechCongress), and Therese Acuna (Harvard – Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation)

Frustration with the outcome of the election has led to an uptick in civic activism, and startups have been launching to harness that energy. Some get it right by using tech to improve the quality of contact between elected officials and their constituents, while some get it wrong focusing on quantity of contacts. Learn what actually happens when you contact your Member of Congress — how your messages are received and affect decision making, and how understanding this will improve your advocacy.

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Reforming the Vote

Speakers: Mike Allen (Axios), Terri Sewell (US House of Representatives), and Richard Hasen (UC Irvine School of Law)

Voting in America is hard. And optional. While 22 industrialized countries have gone to great lengths to force their citizens to vote, some American lawmakers are trying to make it even harder for some citizens to reach the ballot box. We also know that adversaries have successfully hacked state voting systems. Axios’s Mike Allen speaks with experts and lawmakers about the complicated and frightening implications of voting reform.

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Browse All Government Sessions

Crossover Track Recommendations

Adventure outside of the Government Track – explore SXSW sessions across all 24 Tracks of Conference programming. These sessions are not a part of the Government Track, but these subjects will interest anyone with an interest in government.

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Interactive Opening Speaker Senator Cory Booker Teaser – Photo by Alexa Gonzalez Wagner

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