Spartan warrior in armor and spear standing over a cliff, against an orange sky background

I’ve been on a great writing kick over at R Street, most recently finishing up a 6-part blog series on what I call, with intentional dramatic flair, the “Great War” for the future of internet governance. It’s a composite of (at least) six distinct wars, so in addition to the overview post setting up the series, I wrote a post on each of the battlegrounds as I see them. I’m posting here to link out to them, and to include some favorite snippets from each. …


Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 (or December 37th, 2020 if you prefer) will go down in history. Not that I think anyone reading this needs a reminder, but, well, the U.S. Capitol building was overrun by insurrectionists who posed for pictures smoking pot in leadership offices and defacing the symbolic center of American power, in a conspired act of sedition and domestic terrorism fomented by the then-current President (and amplified by powerful machinery of manipulation and misinformation) as he sulks over losing his bid for reelection. A friend on Slack messaged me during the attack to ask, simply, “Are we going…


This week I published a piece in The American Conservative, “Interoperability is Key to Tech Competition.” You can read the whole article there, but here’s a synopsis, via two bullet points:

  • The House Judiciary concluded its lengthy investigation into tech competition with a substantial report (449 pages!) calling for substantial intervention, including structural separation and other reforms. Key from my perspective as a long-time advocate for interoperability (see, e.g., this 2017 Medium post and this 2019 white paper), the report includes data portability and interoperability among its recommendations — as does the “Third Way” report released by Rep. Buck (R-Colo.).

Over this series of policy posts, I’m exploring the evolution of internet regulation from my perspective as an advocate for constructive reform. It is my goal in these posts to unpack the movement towards regulatory change and to offer some creative ideas that may help to catalyze further substantive discussion. In that vein, this post focuses on the need for “critical community” in content policy — a loose network of civil society organizations, industry professionals, and policymakers with subject matter expertise and independence to opine on the policies and practices of platforms that serve as intermediaries for user communications and…


My desk, with hundreds of conference badges (2005–2020).

It’s time to move on.

These badges mean a lot to me. For the past few years, I had the best badge game in Mozilla’s San Francisco office, all of these small pieces of plastic and paper displayed proudly on the side wall of my cubicle, layered over each other with the non-lanyard badges clipped together in long chains.

When you hire a policy person, you’re also hiring their network. Unlike many jobs, public policy is a thing we do together. Over the past 15 years (the oldest of these is from 2005) I’ve built an incredible network, and these…


Perhaps the most de rigeur issue in tech policy in 2020 is antitrust. The European Union made market power a significant component of its Digital Services Act consultation, and the United Kingdom released a massive final report detailing competition challenges in digital advertising, search, and social media. In the U.S., the House of Representatives held an historic (virtual) hearing with the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (Alphabet) on the same panel. As soon as the end of this month the Department of Justice is expected to file a “case of the century” scale antitrust lawsuit against Google. …


[Note: This piece was originally published on TechDirt.]

The internet policy world is headed for change, and the change that’s coming isn’t just a matter of more regulations but, rather, involves an evolution in how we think about communications technologies. The most successful businesses operating at what we have, up until now, called the internet’s “edge” are going to be treated like infrastructure more and more. What’s ahead is not exactly the “break them up” plan of the 2019 Presidential campaign of Senator Warren, but something a bit different. …


One of the most vexing issues in my portfolio of policy work is how to handle harmful and unlawful user content on the internet — and in particular, the role of tech / internet companies as intermediaries facilitating and moderating online speech. I wrote about this a bit last year, as part of my 2017–2018 “CATS” series on the future of internet policy. …


My previous posts have focused specifically on interoperability — what that means in the digital platform ecosystem, and why it’s relevant to the goal of promoting a competitive market and the economic benefits that derive from one for businesses and individuals. In this post, I’m going to shift focus a bit towards the backdrop behind all this: the state of American antitrust law. Changes in how competition approaches tech seem inevitable today, for a number of reasons. …


My previous posts on interoperability via APIs have focused on vertical relationships — ensuring that digital platforms remain platforms on top of which independent, innovative products can be built. Vertical competition carries with it the potential of future horizontal competition, something many have examined in the context of the Facebook/WhatsApp merger. But interoperability via APIs has a more present impact on horizontal competition — consistent with the core principle that competition policy is meant to support competition, not competitors — and that’s what I will explore in this post. …

Chris Riley

Disruptive internet policy engineer, beverage connoisseur, gregarious introvert, contrarian order Muppet, and proud husband & father. Not in order.

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