Get to Know CDT’s Fellows: Michael W. Carroll

Written by Brian Wesolowski

Michael W. Carroll is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University. He is also one of CDT’s non-resident Fellows, engaging with our policy teams to provide valuable insight from his research. In this Q & A we get to learn more about Michael and his current work. 

What’s your current research focus?

I’m working on a piece about copyright and text and data mining technologies. I argue that text and data mining is legal in the United States without a license, but that researchers are often required to sign away their fair use rights in exchange for access to journal articles and other textual data.

What is the most pressing internet policy question of today?

Network neutrality remains high on the list. Data privacy and data surveillance issues are also very pressing. As the Internet of Things continues to grow, clearer maps of the data flows connected devices gather and distribute is very important. That data is sort of the dark matter of cyberspace.

Why hasn’t the Internet created more disruption in the way political campaigns are run? 

I’m not sure, but it’s an important question. Federal election campaigns are increasingly expensive, and a big chunk of that spending is on advertisements through traditional media channels. We know that manipulation of Internet-based media is a problem, and data analytics are facilitating targeted online outreach to voters. The Internet has enabled more grassroots fundraising and some grassroots organizing, but conventional media still shapes the narrative.

On what issues should policymakers seek more input from academia?

Regulation of cryptocurrencies; use of machine learning systems in private and government decision-making; the possibilities and the pitfalls of educational technologies.

What issues do you think more students should be studying?

Intellectual property; privacy; cybersecurity

What does the future hold for the internet? Will it reach its full potential?

Wow, that’s a big question. I think the forces that have driven network growth remain in place, so I do expect deeper expansion of the network into our physical spaces.

What is your favorite topic to teach?

It is a toss-up. I really like the Copyright course. I also like the unit on Section 230 in Cyberlaw.

What advice do you have for aspiring tech & internet academics?

There are too many issues and topics for any one person to be expert in all of them. Define a core area of expertise that you want to develop and build out from there.

What’s a passion or hobby you have outside of tech & the internet?

I like to stay physically active. Hiking and bodyboarding are my two favorite activities. I’m also an amateur guitarist, and I really enjoy listening to, and playing, music.

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