U.S. Chamber Unveils 2021 Technology Policy Agenda

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC) today unveiled its 2021 technology policy agenda at its virtual event, “American Innovators: America’s Next Tech Upgrade.” The event brought together policymakers and technology leaders to discuss what is necessary during the next presidential administration to ensure technology is a lifeline and accelerator for post-COVID 19 economic growth.  

C_TEC’s technology policy agenda is centered around four key pillars: 

  • Connecting all Americans to broadband; 
  • Developing a national data privacy and artificial intelligence (A.I.) strategy; 
  • Unlocking the benefits of emerging transportation technologies; and 
  • Preparing the future workforce. 

“Technology has been at the forefront of America’s economic growth and strength for decades. It has been a lifeline during the pandemic for millions of Americans and will be critical to charting our path forward. To accelerate economic growth, create jobs, and maximize the digital tools at our disposal, we must have the right policies in place that address the challenges in this sector without losing our competitive advantage,” said U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President Tom Quaadman. “We call on the next administration and Congress to work closely with the private sector to provide the funding and permitting relief necessary to connect all Americans, enact a national data privacy law, foster the growth of the gig economy, and lay the foundation to ensure U.S. leadership in emerging technologies.”

The following outlines the Chamber’s topline technology focused policy priorities for 2021. For more information, visit AmericanInnovators.com

Connecting All Americans to Broadband 

To connect all Americans, accelerate economic growth, and reap the benefits of telemedicine, smart cities, and distance learning, the U.S. Chamber recommends the following policies: 

  • Targeted Funding for Broadband Access and Adoption: The Chamber supports targeted funding to increase access for unserved Americans, and Congressional funding the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (“DATA”) Act to determine where that funding should be spent. In terms of broadband adoption, Congress needs to provide funding to address students who are unable to connect during COVID-19 and look at ways of improving the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline program, which helps expand internet adoption for lower income households.
  • Permit Streamlining: The Chamber supports policies to streamline the permitting system at the federal, state, and local level such as shot clocks and preventing governments from charging unreasonable application fees.   
  • Smart Regulation: The FCC should treat broadband as an essential service, not a public utility. The Commission should continue to embrace economic analysis, and the federal government must develop a comprehensive, unified, spectrum management plan. 

More details on these policy recommendations can be found here

Developing a National Data Privacy and A.I. Strategy 

To promote public health and safety, encourage consumer protection, and instill business certainty, the U.S. Chamber recommends the following policies: 

  • National Data Privacy Legislation: Congress must pass national data privacy legislation that protects all Americans equally regardless of what state a consumer is from and eliminates a confusing patchwork of state laws. A federal data privacy law should encourage collaboration between government and the private sector; provide certainty with enforcement by only experienced regulatory agencies; and protect personal information based on risk and harm while promoting socially beneficially purposes like health, safety, and inclusion. 
  • Artificial Intelligence: The Chamber supports continued advancement of A.I. technologies to improve human productivity, promote data-driven innovation, and expand economic opportunities for all of society. To do this, policymakers must develop a comprehensive A.I. strategy across the federal government; embrace commonsense regulatory approaches that balance the risks with the substantial benefits of A.I.; invest in A.I. research and development; increase accessibility to government data; and lead in the creation of A.I. standards.
  • Information Technology Modernization: Congress and the administration must take a proactive approach to provide funding to upgrade federal systems while ensuring agencies utilize resources efficiently and strategically. 

More details on these policy recommendations can be found here

Unlocking the Benefits of Emerging Transportation Technologies 

To encourage further innovation and maintain U.S. leadership in emerging technologies such as UAS, UAM, and AVs, the U.S. Chamber recommends the following policies:  

  • Emerging Aviation Technologies: C_TEC recommends policymakers focus on safely integrating emerging aviation technologies into the national airspace; prioritizing the main enabling systems and infrastructure to provide for further integration; mitigating threats stemming from illicit UAS operation; and strengthening United States competitiveness in emerging aviation.   
  • Automated Vehicles: C_TEC recommends that policymakers focus on removing barriers to automated vehicle innovation through regulatory and non-regulatory approaches; ensuring regulatory clarity; educating the public on automated vehicle technology; and strengthening research, development and testing.  

More details on these policy recommendations can be found here

Building the Workforce of the Future 

To protect the gig economy and provide certainty for workers and consumers, the U.S. Chamber recommends the following policies: 

  • Targeted Liability Protections: Enact legislation that provides targeted liability protections to gig companies that provide personal protective equipment, financial benefits, and other benefits to workers on their platform to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic so that gig workers who receive this assistance can retain workplace flexibility. 
  • Opt-in Benefits Program: Enact legislation that creates an opt-in program to enable gig companies to provide a suite of benefits for gig workers while ensuring that those workers can maintain their flexibility and autonomy as independent contractors. 
  • Oppose AB-5 Style Regulations: Oppose any legislation or regulation, such as the PRO Act (H.R. 2474/S. 1306) or the Worker Flexibility and Small Business Protection Act (H.R. 8375/S. 4738), that would apply an AB-5-type ABC test on the gig economy.  

Additionally, the Chamber also recommends modernizing our nation’s immigration laws; partnering with the private sector to upskill America’s workforce; and encouraging the deployment of data centers.  

More details on these policy recommendations can be found here.