Republican Solutions: Technology
Technology policy needs a refresh under Majority Leader Reid. Senate Democrats have failed to find common ground on updating a number of laws that have become obsolete in the wake of technological advances. These include the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986; the Telecommunications Act of 1996; and other statutes and regulations governing intellectual property, cybersecurity, the corporate tax code, access to the best workers, free and fair trade, the use and availability of licensed and unlicensed wireless spectrum, and federal information technology.
In contrast, a Republican-led Senate would take steps to refresh America’s technology policies by reviewing the regulatory powers of the Federal Trade Commission, encouraging and enabling the Federal Communications Commission to set modernized rules, and supporting an open Internet without the federal government as a gate-keeper. Senator John Thune, ranking Republican on the Commerce Committee, has outlined 21st century updates to technology policy.
Here are a few technology policies the Senate could explore if Republicans are put in charge:
- Create Optimal Conditions for Tech Sector Growth. The federal government currently imposes high corporate tax rates on technology firms, creating a disincentive for investment in America. A Republican-led Senate would work to reform the tax code to encourage companies to invest at home and support changes to our tax laws that get Americans back to work. A Republican-led Senate would also encourage the inclusion of technical skills into existing educational programs and examine visa and immigration laws to make sure the U.S. attracts and retains the brightest minds from all over the world.
- Eliminate Needless Regulation, Promote Free-Market Principles. The federal government creates seemingly endless amounts of paperwork and rules governing companies across the technology industry. Despite the regulatory burden, Senate Democrats continue to support the Obama administration’s efforts to further regulate the innovation economy. A Republican-led Senate would eliminate or reduce regulations that impede technological advancements. It would also encourage the job-creating work of technology companies in newly emerging segments such as cloud computing and the sharing economy.
- Cultivate Landscape for Innovation, Protect Intellectual Property. Senate Democrats’ failure to support patent reform has favored the interests of trial lawyers. This has negatively impacted large, mid-size, and start-up technology and Internet companies. A Republican-led Senate would reform the U.S. patent system, enabling tech companies to accelerate and flourish without being burdened by frivolous lawsuits. Additionally, a Republican-led Senate would support the robust enforcement of patent protection and copyright laws needed to address the issue of digital piracy.
- Address Cybersecurity Threats. Congress has not passed a major cybersecurity bill since the Federal Information Security and Management Act of 2002. In that time, the cybersecurity threat has increased at a remarkable pace. A Republican-led Senate would cultivate a public-private partnership and support a voluntary and flexible cybersecurity NIST framework. A Republican-led Senate would pass legislation to facilitate information sharing about cybersecurity threats; improve the security of federal information systems; enhance cyber research and development; and build a requisite workforce.
- Support the Free Flow of Digital Trade. U.S. international trade negotiations must take into account the robust trade of digital goods via the Internet. However, rising digital protectionism by a few of our trade partners threatens digital innovation and economic growth. A Republican-led Senate would support eliminating or preventing restrictions on cross-border data flows, barring localization mandates regarding IT infrastructure and data, and preventing discriminatory or unfair liability exposure in foreign countries.
A Republican-led Senate would champion Internet access and use for every American. It would encourage research and public-private partnerships to find innovative solutions to our country’s most challenging technology problems. It would empower entrepreneurs and innovators, not federal policymakers and bureaucrats. By doing this, it would give a spark to the nation’s economy, contribute to solving society’s greatest challenges, respond to market demands, and put Americans back to work.
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