The FTC is considering modifications to the COPPA Rule. In this supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, the FTC has proposed modifying the Rule’s definition of “operator,” “Web site or online service directed to children”, “personal information,” and “support for internal operations” to impose more restrictive rules on what personal information can be collected about children and who is allowed to collect this information. In particular, this would restrict targeted advertising on websites directed at children under the age of 13. As described in this filing, ITIF believes the current effort to create more restrictions on the collection and use of information about children is misguided and likely leaves children worse off. Rather than impose additional rules on website operators, the FTC should instead explore ways to foster more development of child-directed sites and services on the Internet using market-friendly methods.
Comparing the 2012 Presidential Candidates’ Technology and Innovation Policies
Despite the obligatory acknowledgment of innovation’s central role in U.S. economic growth, the 2012 campaign has not yet seen a serious conversation emerge regarding the policies sorely needed to revitalize U.S. innovation-based economic competitiveness. Moreover, rather than adopt an “all of the above” approach to innovation policy that includes corporate tax and regulatory reform as well as increased federal investment in research and development (R&D), digital infrastructure, and skills, the candidates stress policies from “each column,” with Governor Romney focusing more on the former and President Obama more on the latter. This is unfortunate. For, as we write in the book Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage, U.S. policymakers need to recognize that the United States is engaged in a fierce race for innovation-based economic growth. To win this race, the United States will need to adopt a new, bipartisan Washington Innovation Consensus that places science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the center of economic policy-making and recognizes that both parties bring good ideas to the table in this regard.
This report highlights the candidates' technology and innovation policies with the aim of amplifying the national dialogue around bolstering innovation-based economic growth. The report begins with an overview of each candidate’s general philosophy on technology, innovation, and trade policy, and then compares the candidates’ specific policy positions across 10 policy areas:
- Innovation and R&D
- Energy Innovation
- Education and Skills
- Broadband and Telecommunications
- Internet/Digital Economy
- Life Sciences and Biotechnology
The report is based on information gathered directly from the campaigns’ websites and policy documents or from media reports of statements made by the candidates. In some cases where a candidate has not articulated a specific position, the candidate’s record while in office or the position of the candidate’s party (as reflected in the Democratic or Republican party platforms) is used as a proxy.
ITIF is a non-partisan research and educational institution—a think tank—focused on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues, and does not endorse either candidate. Rather, this report seeks to provide a factual, impartial comparison of the candidates’ technology and innovation policies.
Winning the Race 2012 Memos
As the 2012 presidential campaign moves in the final stage, ITIF is presenting general principles and specific recommendation ideas across several policy areas we believe the next President and Congress should adopt to restore U.S. global competiveness and prosperity.
As chronicled in Innovation Economic: The Race for Global Advantage, the United States is losing its once formidable edge as an innovator. Many other nations are putting in place better tax, talent, technology and trade policies, and reaping the rewards in terms of faster growth, more jobs, and faster income growth. It’s not too late for the United States to regain its lead but it will need to act boldly and with resolve.
Week by week until the November election, the Winning the Race series will put forward creative yet pragmatic ideas in policies affecting taxes, trade, education, broadband, the digital economy, clean energy, science and technology and other areas. Taken as a whole, the series represents a new Innovation Consensus to replace the outdated Washington Consensus.
Memo One (September 3, 2012): Boosting Innovation, Competitiveness, and Productivity
Memo Two (September 10, 2012): Trade and Globalization
Memo Three (September 17, 2012): Corporate Tax
Memo Four (September 24, 2012): Digital Communication Networks
Memo Five (October 1, 2012): Traded Sector Industries
Memo Six (October 9, 2012): Digital Economy
Memo Seven (October 15, 2012): STEM Skills
Memo Eight (October 22, 2012): Clean Energy
Memo Nine (October 29, 2012): Science and Technology
Memo Ten (November 5, 2012): Overcoming the Barriers
Complete List of Policy Recommendations: Top Policy Recommendations for the Obama Administration to Help the United States Win the Race for Global Advantage
The Need for an R&D Roadmap for Privacy
Effectively addressing privacy concerns in ways that do not stop innovation will require a mix of new technologies and policies to ensure data is properly safeguarded and consumers are protected. ITIF has proposed creating an R&D roadmap for privacy to help address consumer privacy concerns, better align R&D investments with strategic objectives, and enable more innovation.
ITIF Comments on Privacy and Security of Information Stored on Mobile Communications Devices
The FCC should not extend its authority to regulate the software that is installed on mobile devices. The current uses of CPNI by carriers are appropriate and neither the FCC nor consumers advocacy group have identified any specific harms to consumers. While privacy is an important issue to consider, the potential negative impact of additional regulation on the mobile Internet, mobile devices, and mobile applications should be considered as well. The FCC should instead use its expertise to help identify issues that need attention and actively participate in existing multistakeholder efforts to improve consumer privacy.