February 24, 2022
Sweeping crypto declarations, plans for a national privacy law and a commitment to Open RAN would be great things to hear on Tuesday, members of Protocol's Braintrust say.
Good afternoon! Though the focus of next week's State of the Union address as a whole may be in flux as the world responds to the today's invasion of Ukraine, we asked the experts about what they'd ideally want to hear President Biden say about tech when the time comes. Questions or comments? Send us a note at email@example.com
President and CEO at BSA | The Software Alliance
I’d love to hear President Biden say: “My administration understands that 'tech policy' issues aren’t just for tech companies anymore. Digital transformation is essential to our economy, to companies large and small, and to every industry sector, including our world-leading companies in manufacturing, agriculture and health care. Investment in digital transformation is estimated to reach $7 trillion by 2023 and is critical to keeping our businesses competitive and creating jobs. As we work toward greater global economic cooperation, we commit to concluding a landmark agreement — an enhanced U.S.-EU Privacy Shield — between my administration and the European Commission; to work with Congress to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan national privacy law; and to immediately initiate discussions with Europe and our allies in the Indo-Pacific region on digital economy agreements to cover artificial intelligence, data transfers and cybersecurity in line with our common values.”
CEO at Tusk Holdings
"My fellow Americans, the time has come to embrace reality, to embrace the future. Cryptocurrency, whether we like it or not, whether we even fully understand it or not, is here to stay. And while that creates an obligation on the part of the United States government to protect consumers from fraud, it also creates a tremendous opportunity. Yes, it's true: By definition, cryptocurrency is a sovereign-less concept. It has no borders. But at the same time, when you stop and think about it, cryptocurrency is also quintessentially American. What are the values of crypto? Innovation. Risk tasking. Creativity. Aversion to the status quo and its rulers. And what's the ethos of this nation? Almost exactly the same. It's how we were founded, it's how we grew to be the greatest nation on the planet and it's why I'm launching CFA — the Crypto for America plan — that will make the United States the global home of cryptocurrency, blockchain, NFTs, DAOs and every other new idea that can turn into jobs. Real jobs for real Americans. With an industry that's really here. This is our chance to make technology work for us. This is our chance to bring together multiple generations from the baby boomers like me to Gen Z, like my grandkids. This is our chance to create, to embrace, to dominate, to own an entirely new industry — an industry that at its heart, is uniquely American."
President and CEO at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
As the U.S. economy recovers from the pandemic, President Biden should address inflation and set forward an agenda that promotes American competitiveness in his State of the Union speech. That means allowing American businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive and create jobs — one of the few shared bipartisan policy priorities.
The tech industry is an economic engine for the United States, creating over 18 million American jobs and generating 12% of total GDP. American companies lead the way in technology innovation, but foreign competitors are racing to close the gap and several countries are trying to restrict or fine our iconic tech companies.
President Biden can advance the cause of American technology by urging caution on merger restrictions and antitrust bills that punish companies based on size or success, protect the status quo or eliminate popular, free and low-cost services. Legal guardrails should provide clarity, but not choke the very innovation that is leading our economy.
President Biden can bring down inflation by welcoming qualified immigrants, cutting tariffs and pursuing new free-trade agreements with our allies.
America’s tech companies uniquely succeed because of our innovation culture bolstered by the free-market system, constitution and culture that encourage new ideas. President Biden should keep us the “shining city on the hill” which attracts the best and brightest and solves the world problems through innovation, opportunity and hard work.
Executive director of the Technology CEO Council
In a perfect world, the president will announce a world-changing breakthrough enabling flying cars, cold fusion energy or a universal vaccine that truly ends the pandemic. In the world we've got, it would be great to hear the president fully commit to American technology leadership in 5G and semiconductors by supporting immediate passage of the critical Open RAN and CHIPS funding included in the USICA bill that already passed the Senate with a huge bipartisan majority.
CEO at TechNet
The need for a federal privacy law has never been greater. Since 2020, 37 states have introduced or passed different, and often conflicting, data privacy laws. Before long, we’ll have a patchwork of laws in all 50 states. This is confusing consumers and hurting businesses, especially small and medium-sized companies that are struggling through the pandemic and record inflation.
This isn’t a tech sector problem; it’s an every sector problem. New research from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation shows that failing to pass federal privacy legislation would cost more than $1 trillion to our economy over 10 years, with more than $200 billion being paid by small businesses. This means that resources that could go toward creating jobs are being spent on compliance costs and legal bills. In California, since the enactment of the state’s Consumer Privacy Act in 2020, there have been nearly 200 lawsuits involving companies that sell to customers in California despite being located elsewhere.
Rather than forcing American consumers and companies to navigate multiple different sets of privacy laws, we need a unified approach that protects consumers and gives businesses certainty about their responsibilities. Now is the time for Congress and the White House to pass a federal privacy bill, which polls show voters overwhelmingly support. Industries across sectors are united for privacy and shining a light on the need for a federal privacy standard. We hope President Biden addresses this urgent need during his State of the Union address.
Vice president of Corporate Affairs at Workday
Over the past year, the Biden administration and European Commission have worked to “raise the level of ambition” in transatlantic relations. The groundwork these efforts have laid couldn’t have come at a more important moment. With the shared goal of fostering innovation that supports trust, equity and security, the U.S. and EU face growing opportunities associated with tech-related policy in 2022.
From negotiating a Privacy Shield successor framework to setting rules for artificial intelligence, the stakes are high for U.S.-EU digital cooperation. With the launch of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council and continued advocacy for safe and secure data transfers from companies like Workday, the State of the Union address represents an opportunity to drive timely progress.
With the speech being viewed globally, President Biden should emphasize to EU member-state leaders that substantive cooperation on technology policy is critical to the resiliency of the transatlantic relationship, and a priority through which progress in the U.S.-EU bilateral relationship must successfully pass.
President Biden should urge European leaders to prioritize removing hurdles to transatlantic data transfers, supporting joint efforts to find a durable solution. In addition, he should underscore that a harmonized approach to technology regulation based on our shared values can prevent future challenges to deepening the U.S.-EU relationship. With both sides focused on economic recovery and close cooperation, a U.S.-EU partnership grounded in shared democratic values and free of unnecessary hurdles is vital.
Co-founder and chief operating officer at Nava Public Benefit Corporation
In Biden’s first State of the Union address, we hope to see the president acknowledge that frustrating customer service experiences with public services hinder the government's ability to keep promises made to the American people.
Accessing social safety-net programs can be a burdensome process. Dense applications, in-person office requirements and confusing websites make it harder for people to get the benefits they need. It doesn't help that many people applying for these programs are at stressful junctures in their lives. And when you’re strapped for time and resources, the process is even harder.
The best services are built by those who take time to listen to the people impacted and prioritize their needs. In our work building and improving digital tools for benefits programs, we at Nava have seen firsthand that issues usually stem from failing to do this. We hope to hear the president recognize that taking a human-centered approach ensures a more seamless experience and removes, rather than creates, administrative burdens. Shoutouts to organizations like 18F, Code for America and the U.S. Digital Service would acknowledge nearly a decade of work to bring human-centered technology to the public sector.
Confusing interactions with government programs breed distrust at a time when trust in government is already fractured. We hope the president takes the importance of easy-to-use public services seriously, not only for more equitable access to benefits, but to help pave the road toward public faith in the American government.
President and CEO at Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
See who's who in the Protocol Braintrust and browse every previous edition by category here (Updated Feb 24, 2022).
Technology, powered by American workers, is at the root of future U.S. economic success. My one “wish” is that during his State of the Union, President Biden should recognize technology’s role in the U.S. and global economy and advance policies that position the country as a technological leader.
Specifically, President Biden should call on Congress to advance a bicameral conference measure on the United States Innovation and Competition Act/America Competes Act of 2022 so he can sign into law this vital legislation to advance semiconductor research and manufacturing. He can also urge Congress to support stronger international trade efforts, including advancing digital trade agreements with countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
The president can also encourage a new agreement on the free flow of data between the U.S. and Europe, which is fundamental to U.S. economic recovery and furthering competitiveness. This basic business function has been thrown into uncertainty, and we urge the administration to reach an agreement with the European Commission to maintain continuity of commerce involving data flows while ensuring the privacy of citizens. The president can also address the importance of removing regulatory impediments to U.S. participation and leadership in global technical standards.
With a nation and world watching on Tuesday, President Biden should leverage this powerful moment to make it clear the U.S. will use its technological prowess to compete. To do so, he must take decisive action on a bipartisan agenda and motivate Congress to do the same.
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.
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