Now that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the presumptive nominees for president for their respective parties, we encourage them to develop a smart digital agenda. Specifically, we suggest following these seven principles for progress:
Show preference for private sector investment. Government alone can’t build out these networks. Where would government find the tens of billions of dollars every year necessary to keep pace with technological change and demand? Cut Medicare, farm subsidies, education? Of course not. Some things are core functions of government, but there are others at which the private sector is simply better and more efficient – and building telecommunications networks is one of them. In the last two decades, the U.S. private sector has invested over $1.5 trillion in networks. Imagine what the multiplier effect has been considering the total impact of that investment – new companies, applications, platforms, services, entirely new industries that have grown up because of this investment in networks. So the first principle is to maintain the conditions under which private sector investment can flourish.
Promote competition – and recognize that it exists. The 1996 Act was about promoting competition, and that’s exactly what happened. Cross-platform competition is a reality and will only continue to become more intense if government does not interfere.
Effectively manage spectrum resources, balancing the needs of the private sector and government spectrum users, and licensed and unlicensed uses. Spectrum is the lifeblood of the mobile broadband revolution. As a finite resource, it is vital that spectrum resources be made available for mobile broadband services. We should continue efforts to make spectrum available for mobile broadband by either reallocating spectrum currently used for other purposes or making underutilized government-controlled spectrum available for commercial wireless services. Policymakers should also continue to ensure we find the right mix in making spectrum available for licensed and unlicensed services.
Maintain an open Internet, with appropriate protections for non-discrimination. Here’s the good news: you don’t need a new policy on this. The FCC already did it for you in 2010, when it published reasonable rules necessary to preserve the Open Internet and ensure non-discrimination among network providers and access to information. Don’t confuse this with the rules the FCC put out in 2015; those rules inappropriately and unwisely apply decades-old, monopoly-style regulation to vibrant, competitive broadband and wireless Internet. They deter investment, not foster it. They limit innovation, not promote it. Their impact has been small at first, but it will become more evident over time. Europe had a lead in broadband at one point, too, and then it chose the path of regulation and fell dramatically behind the United States. Don’t let that happen here. Fortunately, the courts may strike down the FCC’s new rules, perhaps even before you take office. At that point, all you have to do is to say that the FCC had it right the first time – and perhaps even encourage Congress to codify those rules in statute law.
Assure access to connectivity, irrespective of geography or income, through universal service. This is easy: everyone deserves access to broadband, which is the key to the 21st-century economy – but the trick is to do it right. We need more rural investment and more investment in schools and educational institutions (50 percent of students today don’t have the tools they need to do their schoolwork). In November 2014, the FCC put forward great ideas on universal service reform, focused on modernizing the Lifeline program, expanding it to cover broadband, closing the “homework gap,” and giving consumers more power over how they spend their Lifeline dollars – while deterring waste, fraud and abuse.
Protect the privacy and security of users. Protecting the privacy of Americans in the broadband ecosystem is vital. Today, different privacy rules apply to the same information traversing the Internet, depending on the regulatory classification of a particular service provider. Policymakers should engage in open discussions across the broadband industry, along with privacy advocacy groups, on the best way to reach agreement on future consumer protections. Cybersecurity is a hugely important issue for both business and consumers. Only by working together with network providers can we achieve the strongest possible level of defense against cyber-attacks of all kinds.
Think through a new Telecommunications Act. While the 1996 Act has been a great success, it’s time to update the Act to reflect current conditions and the competitive markets that now exist with a new regulatory model that ensures government does not slow down the pace of innovation. Support for a new Act would be a major accomplishment of your Administration and would show the public that bipartisan cooperation in Congress is still possible – no small achievement in this time of sharp partisan division.
With the 2012 election just a day away, Pew has taken a look at the effectiveness of online political videos and found 55% of registered voters have followed the election online. Among the types of political videos viewed online, news reports took the top spot with 48%, followed by archived speeches and debates at 40%.
Interestingly, only 36% responded they’d watched an outright political ad online — trailing those who had watched a political parody video. The full report is available at Pew.
Over at The Hill, Jennifer Martinez reports on new numbers from Pew that find when it comes to donating to campaigns, sending a quick-and-easy text still has a ways to go:
Although the Federal Election Commission this summer allowed campaigns to accept donations sent via text message, Pew found that 67 percent of Americans still opted to give money to the presidential campaigns by sending checks in the mail or donating in person or through other offline methods. That being said, of the 13 percent of Americans who have donated to Obama or Romney this election cycle, half of them gave money online or via email.
Interestingly, Pew also reports donations by text for charities has been successful for years.
Is there a link between activity on social networks and activity in politics? According to Pew, yes:
The use of social media is becoming a feature of political and civic engagement for many Americans. Some 60% of American adults use either social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter and a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that 66% of those social media users—or 39% of all American adults—have done at least one of eight civic or political activities with social media.
New numbers from Pew break down the effect mobile technology has on politics. Some highlights:
• 88% of registered voters own a mobile device.
• 27% of registered voters keep up with political news on their phone.
• 35% have used their phone to look up whether a politician is being truthful.
The full report, “The State of the 2012 Election — Mobile Politics,” is available at Pew.
Via Kristen A. Lee of the New York Daily News comes a look at how popular Twitter was during Wednesday night’s presidential debate:
Twitter users sent a record 10.3 million tweets — a new milestone in the revolution of how Americans take part in the political process.
With their iPads and cell phones, millions of people virtually joined the candidates on the debate stage, analyzing their every word in real time.
The last Twitter record was set during Obama’s convention speech last month, which triggered 52,757 tweets per minute at one point.
This weekend, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan was named Mitt Romney’s VP pick. Over at TechCrunch, Gregory Ferenstein examines Ryan’s history when it comes to tech:
Ryan’s voting record has supported better access to high skilled immigrants, an open Internet, crowdfunding for startups, and intellectual property reform. However, his ambiguous stance on net neutrality and proposal to cut science funding leaves a noticeable scuff on his otherwise sterling record.
Via George Winslow of Broadcasting & Cable, CNN is looking to make its election coverage more social:
CNN has announced a partnership with Facebook for its 2012 election coverage that will include a second screen “I’m Voting” app, user analytics, surveys and other interactive applications that will be available to CNN’s on-air, mobile and online audiences and Facebook 160 million U.S. users.
According to a new study from Pew, users of Facebook are more engaged in politics. Reports Eliza Krigman of Politico:
Someone who visits Facebook multiple times per day is 2 times more likely to attend a political rally or meeting, 57 percent more likely to influence someone else’s vote and 43 percent more likely to have said he or she would vote, the survey found.
Interestingly, the career-focused social site LinkedIn is tops when it comes to users taking their political activity to the voting booth.
Via the CBC, nationwide broadband has become a campaign issue in Canada:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is promising ubiquitous high-speed broadband internet access across Canada within three years if his party is elected to government.
Ignatieff made the commitment to 100-per-cent connectivity, with speeds of at least 1.5 megabits, for all Canadian communities by 2013 in a video conference from Thunder Bay, Ont., on Tuesday. He also promised expanded cellphone coverage and said a more ambitious internet speed goal would follow by 2017.
Interesting sidenote: In 2000, Canada ranked second in people connected to broadband. Today, they’re tenth.
As the Pew Internet and American Life Project recently found, “some 74% of internet users - representing 55% of the adult population - went online in 2008 to get involved in the political process or to get news and information about the election.”
BB4US.net, “Report of the US Broadband Coalition on a National Broadband Strategy,” US Broadband Coalition. September 24, 2009
Rep. Edward Markey [D-Mass] has left his post as head of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet in order to take over the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. His replacement will be Rep. Rick Boucher [D-VA].
Given President-elect Obama’s plans for building out the broadband infrastructure, Rep. Boucher is liable to be very, very busy in the coming months.