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Brett Frischmann, JD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Brett Frischmann, JD Brett Frischmann, JD

Charles Widger Endowed University Professor in Law, Business and Economics | Charles Widger School of Law | Villanova University


Brett Frischmann, JD, is a renowned scholar and expert in intellectual property, surveillance, internet law and net neutrality.



Brett Frischmann, JD Publication Brett Frischmann, JD Publication Brett Frischmann, JD Publication Brett Frischmann, JD Publication Brett Frischmann, JD Publication






Areas of Expertise (9)

Autonomous Vehicles Net Neutrality Internet Law Infrastructure Information Law Intellectual Property Surveillance Technology Policies Self-driving cars


Professor Frischmann is a leading source on issues related to surveillance, technology policy and intellectual property. Frischmann can also discuss issues related to how society benefits from infrastructure resources and how management decisions affect a wide variety of interests. Frischmann has recently appeared in and written for Forbes, The Guardian, Quartz and Recode.

Education (3)

Georgetown University Law Center: JD

Columbia University - Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science: MS, Earth Resources Engineering

Columbia University - New York: BA, Astrophysics

Select Media Appearances (9)

Op-ed: Algorithm and Blues: The Tyranny of the Coming Smart-Tech Utopia

Scientific American  


Imagine a world governed by smart technologies engineered to achieve three distinct yet interrelated normative ends: optimized transactional efficiency, resource productivity and human happiness. We could have congestion-free roads—no stop and go, no road rage! Instantaneous, personalized entertainment—no need to search or browse! Successful social interactions—no misunderstanding or missed cues! No surprise ailments, no failures, no missed opportunities! Heck, no surprises of any kind! There are so many imperfections in our world that smart technology could fix.

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How Facebook Programmed Our Relatives

Scientific American  


Three years ago, on his birthday, a law professor watched his e-mail inbox fill with Facebook notifications indicating that friends had posted messages on his wall. The messages made him sad. The clogged inbox was annoying, but what really upset him was having disclosed his birth date to Facebook in the first place. It’s not necessary for social networking or to comply with privacy laws, as some people mistakenly believe. He hadn't paid much attention when he signed up—as with most electronic contracts, there was no room for negotiation or deliberation about terms. He complied with Facebook’s instructions, entered the data and clicked a button.

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Op-ed: Here’s why tech companies abuse our data: because we let them



We live in an e-commerce utopia. I can call out orders and my demands are satisfied through an automated, seamless transaction. I just have to ask Alexa, or Siri, or one of the other digital assistants developed by Silicon Valley firms, who await the commands and manage the affairs of their human bosses … Brett Frischmann is the Charles Widger endowed university professor in law, business and economics at Villanova University, Pennsylvania, US, and an affiliated scholar of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.

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Op-ed: Your NCAA bracket is a reverse Turing test



March Madness has begun. Cue the studies and stories about lost productivity, sports betting and consumerism run amok. But for all of the “sick” days taken, office pools created and revenues generated, March Madness shows us something remarkable — that we are, without a doubt, human … by Brett Frischmann, the Charles Widger Endowed Professor of Law, Business and Economics at Villanova University. His forthcoming book, "Re-Engineering Humanity," co-authored with Evan Selinger, Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, will be released in April.

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As fears cloud net neutrality debate, is common ground being overlooked?

The Christian Science Monitor  


When Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was discussing the impact of social media on American values at a luncheon in the nation’s capital on Wednesday afternoon, he only briefly alluded to his own negative experiences online over the past week. … “There is substantial confusion in public debates about this issue,” says Brett Frischmann, professor of law, business, and economics at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. “One side frames net neutrality as heavy government regulation that inevitably involves government micro-management of internet activities.”

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The DNC IT Scandal And The Jackpot Lottery Fraud: When Digital Gatekeepers Become Thieves



Congress IT staffers, Imran Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were indicted for fraud on August 17, 2017, in the DNC scandal. Federal authorities suspect that sensitive U.S. Government data, possibly classified information, may have been compromised or even sold to hostile foreign governments. ... Professor Brett Frischmann at Villanova University states, "the problem some companies face with self-dealing by IT professionals is complex because it is an area where contract and trade secrecy laws' protections may be inadequate. In some cases, other laws such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act can be helpful.”

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Column: We’ve already developed “Google Brain”—but what about Facebook Heart?



We are outsourcing our hearts to Facebook. Our brains have already been altered by Google, as famously first pointed out by Nicholas Carr’s seminal 2008 piece in the Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” His basic argument, expanded upon in The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, is that our over-reliance on Google for every answer, along with a never-ending flood of content screaming for our attention, is turning us into superficial thinkers. We have outsourced our brains to a search engine that can think for us.

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Column: We need our platforms to put people and democratic society ahead of cheap profits



Fake news captures attention and is corrosive. Like many similar social problems online, it is a symptom of surveillance capitalism. Surveillance capitalism explains the economic incentives that drive media production and distribution on internet platforms like Facebook. The business model used by internet platforms relies on collecting data and using that data to create profiles of users to predict their interests and behavior.

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Column: Why it's dangerous to outsource our critical thinking to computers

The Guardian  


The lack of transparency around the processes of Google’s search engine has been a preoccupation among scholars since the company began. Long before Google expanded into self-driving cars, smartphones and ubiquitous email, the company was being asked to explain the principles and ideologies that determine how it presents information to us. And now, 10 years later, the impact of reckless, subjective and inflammatory misinformation served up on the web is being felt like never before in the digital era.

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Select Academic Articles (5)

Thoughts on Techno-Social Engineering of Humans and the Freedom to Be Off (or Free from Such Engineering) Theoretical Inquiries in Law

Brett Frischmann


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Revisiting the Marginal Cost Controversy Journal of Economic Perspectives

Brett Frischmann, Christiaan Hogendorn


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Understanding the Problem of Social Cost Journal of Institutional Economics

Brett Frischmann, Alain Marciano


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Spillovers Columbia Law Review

Brett M. Frischmann and Mark A. Lemley


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Two Enduring Lessons from Elinor Ostrom, Journal of Institutional Economics

Brett Frischmann


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