page image

Comm Policy 2019 - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Conference on Communications Policy?
The Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy is an annual private conference of key decision makers from the telecommunications and information industries, user and consumer groups, academics, non-profit leaders, and representatives from federal, state, and local government. Expert participants from diverse disciplines and viewpoints exchange valuable insights, and develop innovative recommendations to address the technological, competitive, and social issues that are transforming the rapidly changing communications marketplace.

What is the purpose of this website?
This site displays the report resulting from the annual Conference on Communications Policy.  The series of chapters, written by rapporteur Carol Mattey, explores approaches to impede harms from digital and network technologies by creating policies that address user protection, promote consumer choice and competition, and foster access to essential services. The site also highlights the Conference contributors, relevant background research and presentations from participants.  The site acts as a dynamic space for viewers to explore the Conference content and engage on the topic. 

What is the Communications and Society Program?
The Communications and Society Program is an active venue for framing policies and developing recommendations in the information and communications fields.  As one of over thirty policy programs at the Aspen Institute, the Program provides a multi-disciplinary space where veteran and emerging decision-makers can develop new approaches and suggestions for communications policy.  The Program enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society. 

The Program’s projects range across many areas of information, communications and media policy.  Activities focus on issues of open and innovative governance, public diplomacy, institutional innovation, broadband and spectrum management, as well as the future of content, issues of race and diversity, and the free flow of digital goods, services and ideas across borders.

Who leads the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program?
Charlie Firestone is Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and a Vice President of the Aspen Institute. Since his appointment in December 1989, this program has focused on the impact of new technologies on democratic, economic and social institutions, the development of new communications policy models and options for the public interest, and the implications of communications and information technologies for leadership. For three years he was also the Institute’s Executive Vice President for Policy Programs and International Activities.

Prior to his positions with the Aspen Institute, Firestone was Director of the Communications Law Program at the University of California at Los Angeles and Adjunct Professor of Law at the UCLA Law School, 1977-90. He was also the first President of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners, which advises the Mayor and City Council on all regulatory matters relating to the cable and telecommunications fields.

Firestone’s legal career includes positions as an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission, as Director of Litigation for a Washington, D.C. public interest law firm, and as a communications and entertainment attorney in Los Angeles. He has argued several landmark communications law cases before the United States Supreme Court and other federal appellate courts.

Firestone holds degrees from Amherst College and Duke University Law School. He is the editor, author or co-author of several books and numerous articles on communications law and policy. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a GLOCOM Fellow of the Japanese Institute of Global Communications in Tokyo, Japan, and was a Visiting Professor at the Duke University Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy in 2003.

He resides with his wife, sculptor Pattie Porter Firestone, in Santa Barbara, California.

Who sponsors the programming of the Communications and Society Program?
Once again we would like to thank our sponsors of the 2019 Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program for making this and our other conferences possible: Microsoft, AT&T, Comcast, Facebook, Charter, Google, National Association of Broadcasters, New Street Research, T-Mobile, Verizon, Walt Disney and Emmis.

Who moderates the Conference on Communications Policy?
Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, moderates the Conference and all other roundtables produced by the Communications and Society Program.

Who are the participants at the Conference on Communications Policy?
Over the years many notable participants, including David Redl, Julie Brill, Mignon Clyburn, Stephen Conroy, Julius Genachowski, Dick Green, Reed Hundt, Larry Irving, Cam Kerry, Karen Kornbluh, Jon Leibowitz, Blaire Levin, Michael O’Rielly, Ajit Pai, Graham Richard, Larry Strickling, Tom Wheeler, and Tim Wu have attended the Conference on Communications Policy.

Can I attend the Conference on Communications Policy?
Participants at the Conference are a carefully balanced group of key decision makers from the telecommunications and information industries, user and consumer groups, academics, non-profit leaders, and representatives from government that are invited for their expertise, creativity and influential public policy ideas. Participation at the Communications Policy conference is by invitation only. 

Where does the Conference on Communications Policy take place?
The Conference on Communications Policy is an annual summer event that takes place at the Aspen Meadows Conference Center in Aspen, Colorado. 

Does the Conference on Communications Policy have the same theme every year?
The Communications Policy themes vary each year, but always examine issues of telecommunications regulation, competition, and public policy. Previous Communications Policy topics include: “Next Generation Digital Infrastructure: Promoting Investment, Competition and Consumer Protection,” “Streams of Connectedness & New Media: Fragmentation, Innovation and Democracy,” “Setting the Communications Policy Agenda for the Next Administration,” “Skirting Bottlenecks: Policies to Support Network Evolution, Digital Inclusion and Data Security,” “The Atomic Age of Data: Policies for the Internet of Things,” “Video Veritas: Building a 21st Century Video Platform for a High Performance Society,” “Rethinking Communications Regulation,” “Updating the Rules of the Digital Road,” and “Rewriting Broadband Regulation.” 

The current Conference on Communications Policy topic is In Harm’s Way: Smart Regulation of Digital & Network Technology.