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Tech policy belongs on the 2016 campaign agenda

Richard Adler | July 16, 2015
Telecommunications policy is likely to be ignored in the presidential election, but it shouldn't be.

Here, too, legal scholars and thoughtful policymakers have proposed new approaches to regulation that attempt to replace rigid regulatory schemes with more flexible arrangements that recognize the complex and dynamic nature of the telecommunications environment. For example, attorney Richard Whitt has proposed an approach that he calls "adaptive policymaking." And a more recent paper on "Reforming Regulation to Drive International Competitiveness" by Joseph V. Kennedy, former chief economist for the Department of Commerce, enumerates a set of principles that modern regulators should adopt that includes anticipating innovation, recognizing the value of time, embracing transparency and reducing the costs of overregulation.

Bringing communications policy into a presidential campaign may seem challenging, but the purpose of electoral campaigns is to deal with issues of importance to the American people. Winning candidates often succeed by offering fresh, bold ideas for change. And campaigns offer valuable opportunities for "teachable moments" to help educate voters about important issues.

Modern Internet-based networks are now involved with virtually every aspect of life. Emerging technologies like the cloud and the Internet of Things will spread their impact even further, making them an ever-more central part of life and commerce. Concerns about privacy and cybersecurity are topics in the news that can offer "hooks" for candidates to lead to larger issues.

The reality is that communications and technology policy is too urgent and important not to be discussed and debated in the upcoming campaign.


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