Ashley Johnson is a senior policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. She researches and writes about Internet policy issues such as privacy, security, and platform regulation. She was previously at Software.org: the BSA Foundation and holds a master’s degree in security policy from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brigham Young University.
New Evidence Shows Blaming Social Media for Political Polarization Is Misguided
Four new research papers in the journals Science and Nature studied the impact of Facebook and Instagram on key political attitudes and behaviors during the 2020 election cycle. They found little evidence that key features of the platforms led to polarization.
Restoring US Leadership on Digital Policy
The United States could regain its position as a global leader on digital policy by prioritizing a pro-innovation agenda, cooperating with its allies to advance free trade and democratic values, and pushing back against harmful narratives and policies.
Proposals for Tech to Pay for News Rely on Flawed Arguments
In Congress, California, and Canada, lawmakers are relying on faulty logic—the argument that news aggregators take advantage of publishers—in a misguided attempt to save local journalism. History shows that these measures are not likely to succeed at anything more than limiting consumers’ access to quality news content.
For Teens on Social Media, the Jury Is Still Out, But the Judgment Is Already In
The effect of social media on children has been at the center of recent debate, with multiple bills at the federal and state level and recent advisories from the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association. Despite a lack of scientific consensus on how social media affects children, lawmakers have been rushing to implement policies that would, in many cases, create more problems than they solve.
Supreme Court Upholds Section 230, But the Future of the Internet Still Isn’t Guaranteed
Section 230 may not be out of the woods yet, with some members of Congress still pushing for changes to the law that, in most cases, would have negative unintended consequences for businesses, consumers, and online services.
Stopping Child Sexual Abuse Online Should Start With Law Enforcement
STOP CSAM Act of 2023 is not an effective solution for protecting children and would come at the cost of decreased privacy and security for all users. Instead, Congress should focus on enabling law enforcement to more effectively protect victims and punish the perpetrators who create, solicit, or enable child sexual abuse material.
Florida Privacy Bill Is Bad for Business and Consumers
Florida’s proposed data privacy legislation is among the worst given its likely damage to the Sunshine State’s digital economy while failing to protect consumer privacy.
Generative AI Is the Next Challenge for Section 230
To avoid an influx of lawsuits targeting online services that would stifle innovation and ultimately harm consumers, Congress should expand Section 230 to protect AI-generated content.
AI Could Make Age Verification More Accurate and Less Invasive
To avoid infringing on privacy and free speech online with controversial provisions that aim to protect minors, lawmakers should hit pause on these proposals and instead make necessary investments into artificial intelligence (AI) tools for age estimation and electronic identification.
The Impending Patchwork of Privacy Is Bad for Business and Consumers
With five state privacy laws coming into effect this year and 19 states actively considering new bills, the future of American privacy could end up as an expensive patchwork of 50 or more different laws, where an individual’s privacy rights vary depending on where they live.
Utah Law to Protect Children’s Privacy Will Violate Everyone’s Privacy
Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill into law that will require minors to obtain parental consent to use social media. Social media platforms will have to verify the ages of all users in Utah and restrict access to anyone under the age of 18 without their parents’ permission. This will require all Utahns, not just those under 18, to give up their personal information as a condition of using social media, violating everyone’s privacy in the name of protecting children.
Balancing Privacy and Innovation in Smart Cities and Communities
Smart city technology could modernize local government services and improve residents’ quality of life. To reap these benefits and maintain public trust, cities and communities need to balance the interests of innovation and privacy.
Recent Events and Presentations
Age Verification Tech for Social Media: Exploring the Opportunities and Pitfalls
Watch now for the panel dsicussion focusing on age verification technology for social media, AI age estimation, and current capabilities and limitations that policymakers should consider when crafting legislation designed to protect children.
AI, Education and Children’s Privacy Concerns
Gillian Diebold and Ashley Johnson moderate discussions about AI and education and children’s privacy concerns with emerging technology at the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) Annual Conference, hosted by BBB National Programs.
Big Tech & Speech Summit: The Fragility of Section 230
Ashley Johnson speaks at the Big Tech & Speech Summit, an exclusive forum addressing the red-hot controversies impacting Big Tech in Washington.
Supreme Court Argues Section 230: What’s Next for Congress?
Ashley Johnson offers her perspective on the oral arguments in Gonzalez v. Google, the broader Section 230 reform debate, different legislative proposals for altering Section 230, and the implications of potential changes to Section 230.
What Will It Take for Congress to Pass Bipartisan Privacy Legislation?
Watch the discussion about the progress Congress has made in crafting bipartisan privacy legislation, the ADPPA’s current legislative status, and the remaining areas of debate regarding the legislation.
Police Tech: Maximizing Benefits and Reducing Risks
Join ITIF in-person for a discussion about what emerging technologies are on the horizon for law enforcement and how police departments can get the most out of these technologies while addressing some of the legitimate concerns.
Children’s Privacy in Review: The Future of COPPA
View ITIF's panel discussion on whether and how the FTC or Congress should update COPPA to protect children’s privacy while increasing the quality and quantity of online services for children.
Protecting Political Speech While Reducing Harm on Social Media
ITIF hosted a discussion on how Congress and social media platforms can balance free speech and harm reduction in the regulation and moderation of political speech online.
Removing Barriers to Accessibility on Federal Government Websites
ITIF hosted an expert panel discussion on federal government web accessibility and policy proposals for agencies to improve their compliance.
If Congress Overhauls Section 230 to Make Platforms More Liable for User Speech, What Will Change?
ITIF hosted a discussion of these issues with leading experts on intermediary liability, free speech, and content moderation to discuss the current debate surrounding Section 230 and how the debate may unfold in the coming year.
Cybersecurity in a Time of Physical Distancing
ITIF hosted a video webinar to discuss the cybersecurity risks facing workers, students, and organizations during the pandemic and how policymakers can help them become more resilient and better prepared to face future challenges.