Sen. Hatch Makes Reg-Free & Open Net a Tech Priority

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who chairs the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, has released what the task force billed as an Innovation Agenda for the new Congress and it backs a free an open internet: Free of burdensome government regs and open for business.

In the section on fostering a "modern and competitive and open internet, the agenda cites promoting private-sector broadband deployment and connectivity, increasing mobile access to licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and freeing the internet by “preserv[ing] the open, competitive nature of the internet against unnecessary government regulation while promoting continued development of innovative online services."

Among many other things, it calls for patent reform, reforming of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to require a warrant for emails, protecting cross-border data flows, allowing high-skilled immigrants into the country, and a healthy helping of regulatory humility, which includes encouraging self-regulation.

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The plan drew plenty of praise from the industry.

"We commend Sen. Hatch on his strong, bold and broad proposal to ensure our nation remains the global leader in innovation," said Consumer Technology Association President Gary Shapiro. "We are at a crossroads where we need a national strategy recognizing that innovation drives our economy and global leadership. Chairman Hatch's plan recognizes that innovation depends on nurturing, getting and keeping the best and brightest and a legal and regulatory system encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship.”

“We appreciate Senator Hatch for his leadership and plan to boost innovation and remove obstacles that are holding back a leading sector of the economy — technology," said Computer & Communications Industry Association President Ed Black. "He recognizes that abuse of our patent system costs innovative companies billions of dollars a year, and reforms would help curb that drain on time and resources. At the same time we need to modernize electronic privacy laws to better balance the rights of internet users with law enforcement needs and maintain vital cross-border data flows. So we appreciate Senator Hatch’s call to pass ECPA reform. We look forward to working with Senator Hatch and his staff on his tech agenda for this Congress.”

"This initiative will bring focus to many of the issues that matter most to the technology industry, such as high-skilled immigration, STEM education and workforce training, tax reform, Electronic Communications Privacy Act reform, cross-border data flows, autonomous vehicles, and unmanned aerial systems," said TechNet CEO Linda Moore. "TechNet welcomes this initiative, and others like it, and we look forward to learning more details as they are released."

“Senator Hatch is an extraordinary leader and we commend him for the legislative goals announced today," said the Entertainment Software Association. "Modernizing copyright, reforming patent litigation, advancing tax reform, and pushing forward the International Communications Privacy Act are keystone issues for the video game industry’s continued growth. ESA looks forwards to working with Senator Hatch and his colleagues to implement the High-Tech Task Force’s agenda.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.