In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Stephen Ezell analyzed the current challenges facing America’s manufacturing economy and offered several policy recommendations designed to bolster global competitiveness.
Testimony and Filings
ITIF Files Comments with FCC on Open Internet
ITIF filed comments Tuesday in the FCC's open Internet proceeding encouraging the Commission to move forward with its section 706 approach to protecting and promoting the open Internet while allowing the flexibility needed for innovation within the network itself. Section 706 should be preferred over Title II as a jurisdictional hook for open Internet guidelines for several reasons. It is unclear that Title II offers any real advantage over section 706 and would significantly delay the implementation of real rules, even if all went according to plan. ITIF explained why the fears over "fast lanes" are out of proportion and why appropriate, commercially reasonable prioritization arrangements will be good for consumers, competition, and innovation and should be encouraged.
ITIF Submits Comments on House Energy and Commerce Whitepaper on Competition Policy in Communications
ITIF submitted comments with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in response to its whitepaper on competition policy under a Communications Act Update. ITIF urged the Committee maintain a light-touch regulatory framework that respects the economies of scale that come with networked industries. The comments included an elaboration on different ways to view competition in a broadband policy and urged the Committee to consider shifting the FCC's role to one more of enforcement.
Barriers to U.S. Global Clean Energy Leadership
Matthew Stepp testifies before the United States House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Stepp focuses on the potential benefits of and barriers to the United States becoming a global leader in innovative clean energy technologies.
Comments to the FTC on Patient-generated Health Data
The Center for Data Innovation, an affiliated research center of ITIF, argued in comments filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today that given the wealth of public benefits that may be possible from the use and analysis of patient-generated health data, policymakers should be cautious about imposing broad, unnecessary regulations on the data applications or information generated. Instead, they should work to close the specific gaps in current law that have arisen due to the rise of patient-generated health data, while also identifying opportunities to promote data sharing and utilization for the public good.
The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014
Rob Atkinson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law regarding the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014. Atkinson argued that while a number of the provisions regarding preventing electronic stalking by individuals are important, limiting the collection and use of geo-location data by for commercial purposes would unnecessarily stifle innovation and hamper the development of the mobile economy.
ITIF Files Amicus Brief in Google v. Joffe Supreme Court Petition
ITIF has filed an amicus brief supporting Google's petition to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Google Inc. v. Joffe et al case. In that case, Google is accused of illegally intercepting transmissions from open WiFi networks during its Street View project. ITIF believes that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals needlessly treats modern digital communications different from old analog communications, creating confusion and uncertainty for innovators and IT security professionals and warranting review by the Supreme Court.
The Wiretap Act generally allows anyone to listen to radio communications that are not secured to be made private. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that WiFi transmissions are not considered "radio communications."
ITIF contends that the Ninth Circuit was incorrect in holding that only "predominantly auditory broadcasts" like AM/FM radio are considered "radio communications." The court's reading is contrary to the plain meaning of the term "radio communication" and difficult to square with the rest of the Wiretap act. The law has a difficult enough time keeping up with technology without the introduction of arbitrary distinctions based on outmoded radio technologies. We should generally favor policies and interpretations that treat similar technologies alike. When WiFi access points are not encrypted, the communications it sends are available to the public using off-the-shelf equipment similar to a CB radio or walkie-talkie. The Supreme Court should clarify that these radio technologies are treated the same under the Wiretap Act.
What “radio communication” means is an important question of federal law because the narrow definition adopted by the court of appeals calls into question the legality of standard techniques used by IT professionals across the country every day to secure and optimize wireless networks. The lack of clarity that results from the court of appeals’ decision makes it harder for IT professionals to secure wireless networks, threatening the security of our nation’s wireless infrastructure.
View ITIF's amicus brief on Google v. Joffe filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments
In testimony to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, ITIF argued that while most attention has been focused on America's budget deficit, in fact America faces three deficits and debts: budget, trade and investment. For each we are increasing our indebtedness every year, the costs of which will be borne by future generations of Americans. In response, policymakers should take an approach to the budget that seeks to simultaneously close all three deficits. This means that Congress should increase, not cut, growth enhancing investments, including R&D, infrastructure, and education and training. These investments will drive long-term growth and innovation. At the same time, Congress should reduce the budget deficit by cutting non-productive spending (especially entitlements) and increasing taxes on individuals.
A Communications Act Update Should Continue to Liberalize Spectrum Management
ITIF filed comments with the House Energy and Commerce Committee making a number of recommendations related to spectrum policy under a Communications Act Update. ITIF recommended an Update continue down the path of liberalizing spectrum management and attempt to decentralize interference mitigation to licensees. Numerous other recommendations included an expanded role for unlicensed in higher spectrum bands that can accommodate user-controlled devices, and that the Committee work towards a structure to incentivize more efficient use of federal spectrum, favoring relinquishment where economically feasible.
FTC Should Avoid Broad Regulation for Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics, the use of data and algorithms to make probabilistic statements about unknown events, are a valuable tool for improving public safety, health care and numerous other aspects of society. In comments filed with the Federal Trade Commission, Daniel Castro argues the government should avoid unnecessarily regulating this technology or the underlying data. Instead, it should work with businesses, consumers, and other stakeholders to identify unaddressed, harmful uses of predictive analytics and narrowly restrict those uses.