It’s no secret that Silicon Valley was built on tech. Companies and entrepreneurs from our region have transformed the way that billions of people go about their daily lives and fundamentally revolutionized the global economy. It is imperative that our collective focus turns to harnessing the limitless potential of the internet and technology sector. Doing so hinges on making public policy more compatible with the realities of the digital age and updating our priorities accordingly.
Revitalizing American innovation, enacting common-sense regulatory policy, and protecting a decentralized and constantly evolving internet are of paramount importance if we are to fully realize the benefits of the information age as a nation.
TECH AND INNOVATION
Above all, policy surrounding technology and the internet should be consumer-first. Regulations should address harm being caused to consumers without impeding the productive and innovative potential of businesses. While regulatory action should be taken in instances like the corporate infringement of user data and privacy protections, federal regulators and lawmakers should consider the effects that antitrust policies would have on those who count on the products and services provided by major tech companies. The priority of policymakers should be to create and safeguard a system that rewards ingenuity and promotes innovation, rather than relying upon overbearing and out-of-touch regulation which ignores the greater problems at hand. Communities in California’s 16th congressional district and across the country benefit considerably from the presence of major internet and technology companies, and as such, enacting damaging regulations would simply bring significant economic harm to millions.
Instead of dismantling highly productive tech firms, policymakers should instead turn their attention to strengthening the innovative capacity of public and private firms and educational institutions. By significantly increasing federal spending on research and development, broadening the talent pool for the internet and technology sector, and expanding the availability of information, we can breathe new life into American innovation. Putting greater resources into the hands of researchers, making data and ideas more accessible, and attracting the brightest minds from home and abroad to startups and laboratories can ensure that America continues to be a beacon of discovery and innovation well into the twenty-first century, and create the new digital infrastructure necessary for success in a continuously evolving internet age. By leveraging the unparalleled promise of the internet, we can use the benefits of this new technological frontier to better the lives of Americans and create unimaginable opportunities.
Furthermore, policy frameworks which support and advance vital web3 technologies are essential to unleash the yet untapped potential of blockchains, DAOs, and digital assets. Doing so will extend needed financial services and resources to millions of Americans and bring them into the fold of an emerging decentralized financial system. Building comprehensive regulatory infrastructure for stablecoins that prioritizes equity, creates safeguards against financial crimes, and promotes integrity within the system is crucial for realizing the dream of a more inclusive financial future. Additionally, enhancing the resilience of digital infrastructure to defend against growing cybersecurity threats and data leaks is imperative as more and more essential public services and economic sectors digitize.
We need solutions which fit into the modern digital economy, instead of adhering to outdated dogma that fundamentally misunderstands the very technologies and platforms being regulated. The opportunities and benefits of technological innovation should be embraced and utilized to our advantage, rather than demonized and treated as something to fear. Misguided tech policy threatens to leave us behind, and we need legislators who recognize the unique qualities of the internet and tailor evidence-based policy solutions to contend with the unprecedented threats and rewards of a decentralized internet and a rapidly digitizing world. Our future increasingly lies in tech, and in this day and age, we need leaders who understand that reality.
THE CASE AGAINST EXCESSIVE REGULATION
Major internet and technology companies, including Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook, produce a number of products and provide numerous services which have greatly impacted the lives of millions upon millions of consumers in America and the world over. The ways in which people connect with each other and interact with the world have changed dramatically due to Facebook’s social networking services, Google Search, and countless other innovations. Companies born in Silicon Valley, many of which arose in California’s 18th district itself, have been the driving force behind American innovation and ingenuity for decades, and represent just what Americans can achieve when granted the business friendly environment that allowed technology giants to thrive in their infancy. Directly targeting and harming these companies through overbearing regulations would not only stifle American innovation by clamping down on major engines of growth and technological development, but would also have far-reaching economic consequences for millions of Americans and their communities.
In CA-18 alone, major tech companies are responsible for tens of thousands of well paying jobs, and the presence of these firms in cities across the district are a financial boon to communities. Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View, is a considerable source of job creation, with Facebook fulfilling a similar role with its headquarters in Menlo Park. Beyond the district, the offices and facilities of major technology and internet companies are linked with significant economic benefits for the residents of communities with which they interact. Amazon fulfillment centers, for instance, not only create jobs within the centers themselves, but spur growth in the towns and cities where the centers are located, boosting employment rates and putting revenue into the pockets of small business owners and local workers. Succumbing to the so-called ‘tech-lash’ and following through with misguided antitrust attempts would thus negatively alter the livelihoods of millions of Americans.
PROMOTING INNOVATION FOR THE TWENTY- FIRST CENTURY
Effective policy solutions aimed at encouraging and fostering technological innovation and development should ideally be grounded in the three fundamental tenets of incentivizing research, expanding the talent pool, and increasing the dissemination of information. Falling under these categories are a broad set of policies that can leverage government resources and expertise to promote innovation in the technology and internet sectors and beyond. By encouraging research, which can be achieved through providing tax-based incentives for research and development (R&D) spending and government-directed research grants, companies are given an incentive and additional resources for R&D, which can yield significant technological breakthroughs in the private sector. Growing the American talent pool through supporting expanding skilled immigration and investing in domestic training programs would grow the number of researchers available at American educational institutions and private firms, which has been shown to correspond to an increase in patents per capita, for instance. Thirdly, bolstering free trade and expanding open datasets, for instance, are part of improving access to crucial information necessary to boost innovation and technological development.
In the United States, federal spending on research and development is incredibly low compared to many other developed countries, or even relative to past decades in America. Increasing R&D spending includes cancelling R&D amortization, expanding tax incentives, and direct research grants to educational institutions. Additionally, an increase in available researchers is directly linked to an increase in research and development activity. A one percent increase in the population of immigrant college graduates in the United States has been shown to increase patents per capita by 18 percent, and as such access to H1B, EB5, and O-1 visas should be expanded to increase the arrival of talent from abroad. The United States is also undergoing a shortage of college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Job training and youth mentorship programs in these fields should be expanded to decrease this deficit in domestic talent. Increasing connections between sources of growth and the minds and businesspeople at the forefront of key developments is crucial to expanding technological innovation. Expanding free trade, creating more open datasets, and transferring knowledge in universities into the market are the core facets of this strategy, which should hopefully result in global and domestic movement of institutional knowledge and information.