Eli Dourado

  • Former Senior Research Fellow

Eli Dourado is a former Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He has studied and written about a wide range of technology policy issues, including Internet governance, intellectual property, cybersecurity, and cryptocurrency. His focus was on aviation innovation—commercial drones, supersonic flight, and flying cars. His popular writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, among other outlets.

Dourado was an advisor to the State Department on international telecommunication matters and has served on several U.S. delegations to UN treaty and policy conferences. He received a PhD in economics from George Mason University and a BA in economics and political science from Furman University.


Publications & Appearances

More Than “Just One iPhone”: Law Enforcement Cites All Writs Act to Access Many Devices

The FBI’s recent conflict with Apple over accessing a locked iPhone in its investigation of the San Bernardino terrorist attack eventually settled out of court when an external party was able to unlock the device. Contrary to the government’s claims that this incident was about just one iPhone, this was far from the first time that law enforcement cited the All Writs Act of 1789 (AWA) to compel private companies to compromise secure devices. This week’s chart shows that law enforcement agencies have attempted to apply this law numerous times in recent years for a range of criminal offenses, particularly drug-related crimes.

Abuse of Patent Venue Rules Reaches Record-Breaking Level

In 2006, more patent lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Texas than in any other federal judicial district. But EDTX was just getting started. By 2015, more than 9.5 times as many cases were filed in the courthouse in Marshall, TX, where two judges with a reputation for siding with patent plaintiffs preside.

Creating an Environment of Permissionless Innovation for Unmanned Aircraft

We are at an exciting point in the history of unmanned aircraft. I think of drones as occupying a similar position now as the Internet did in the late 1980s. As members of this committee know, until 1989, use of the Internet for commercial purposes was generally prohibited. The removal of that prohibition resulted in an explosion of innovation, much of it completely unanticipated, that has persisted until today.

Going Dark? Federal Wiretap Data Show Scant Encryption Problems

These charts use data from the annual Wiretap Reports published by the Administrative Office of the US Courts to display the portion of total reported wiretap orders that have been undermined by encryption technologies from 2001 to 2014. (This dataset only examines domestic wiretap requests. Information relating to wiretap requests regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 is not available.) The charts show that, contrary to popular assumption, encryption technologies have only complicated a minuscule percentage of reported wiretap investigations over the past 15 years.

Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an interim final rule creating a new electronic registration system for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and requiring, for the first time, the registration of model aircraft operators. This comment highlights an omission in the agency’s alternative scenario analysis, questions some of the purported benefits of the rule, and points out some of the continuing legal shortcomings associated with the FAA’s approach. While we support the advent of a simple and streamlined registration system, we object to the extension of the registration requirement to model aircraft operators.

Economic Perspectives: Cybersecurity Policy Reforms for the 21st Century

Cybersecurity policy should refrain from imposing sweeping, expensive, top-down solutions that could increase rigidities of existing systems. The federal government can better protect American information systems by shoring up its own network vulnerabilities, supporting strong encryption techniques, and reforming laws to encourage security research and report- ing, so that the entities best positioned to do so can strengthen their own cybersecurity.