Free Speech, Social Media, Fake News, Dangerous Speech, and Democracy: What Should Be Done?

March 2, 2021

Tuesday, March 2
11 AM PST/ 2 PM EST via Zoom


Moderator: Chris Cox


Hon. Dan Oliver, Former Federal Trade Commission chairman

Bartlett Cleland, Senior Fellow, Technology and Innovation, Pacific Research Institute


Pacific Research Institute is proud to present a virtual debate on free speech and the role of social media in moderating online content. PRI brings together an unmatched team of experts including former Congressman Chris Cox, one of the original authors of Section 230; the Honorable Dan Oliver, one of the country’s leading conservatives and former Federal Trade Commissioner under President Ronald Reagan; and Bartlett Cleland, PRI’s senior fellow in Technology and Innovation and a top expert on tech policy.





Chris Cox, former Congressman and original author of Section 230

Former Rep. Chris Cox authored the Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act, with chief cosponsor Ron Wyden (D-OR), in 1995. It became law the following year as Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In addition to this first Cox-Wyden legislation, the pair teamed up to pass the Internet Tax Freedom Act in 1998, banning federal and state taxes on email and internet access.

During a 23-year Washington career, Chris was a White House counsel to President Ronald Reagan, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the fifth-ranking elected leader in the House. Prior to his Washington career, he was a partner in the corporate practice of Latham & Watkins and a member of the firm’s national management. He also taught federal income tax as a member of the faculty at Harvard Business School.  Following his Washington service, he was a partner in the law firms of Bingham McCutchen and Morgan Lewis for 11 years. He currently serves on the boards of privately held companies in the health care, real estate, regulatory compliance, and technology industries.


Hon. Dan Oliver, former Federal Trade Commission chairman

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute, and a director of Pacific Research Institute.

From 1986-1989, he was chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Before that, he served as general counsel of the U.S. departments of Agriculture (1983-1986) and Education (1981-1983).

From 1973 to 1976, Oliver was Executive Editor of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review and subsequently served as chairman of its board.

Oliver graduated from Harvard College and Fordham University Law School and is admitted to practice law in New York state. During the Cold War, he served in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany.

Oliver and his wife live in Washington, D.C. where he writes about public affairs. His writings have appeared in The Claremont Review of Books, The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, National Review, and The Federalist, among other publications.

Oliver received a Doctorate in Political Science (Honoris Causa) from Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1988, and may soon request to be addressed as “Dr. Oliver” in order to keep up with the Bidens.


Bartlett Cleland, Senior Fellow, Technology and Innovation, Pacific Research Institute

Bartlett Cleland has spent his entire public policy career in the technology and innovation space working on Capitol Hill where he was intimately involved in numerous critical debates including encryption and “supercomputer” export controls, the Internet Tax Fairness Act, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Communications Decency Act, the 1996 Telecommunications Act and others, including efforts to increase information for citizens about Congressional activities and efforts.

In addition to his work as senior fellow in tech and innovation at the Pacific Research Institute, Bartlett is executive director of the new Innovation Economy Alliance and Institute and is a research fellow with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Texas.  Bartlett also serves as a member of the US Stakeholder Council and is a U.S. Delegate to ISO for development of 279/56000 on innovation management.

Bartlett graduated from Millikin University with a B.S. in philosophy and business administration. He received his Masters of Business Administration, as well as his law degree with a specialization in international and comparative law, from St. Louis University. He is admitted to the Missouri bar.

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