Technology

Net neutrality needs your help today (Sen. John Kerry)

It would be at best sophomoric and at worst patronizing to stop by here and "tell you" you how important the Internet is to our economy and political culture now.

But when you're talking about almost 200 billion emails sent each day and more than $3 trillion in e-commerce a year ago, it's more than clear we've just scratched the surface of what the Internet can do, both as a platform for commerce and discourse.

And so it's far from surprising that the powerful interests have lined up on different sides of a huge fight going on in Washington; and it will probably be very familiar to you, after years of battling over Net Neutrality.

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Celebrating the birth of copyright (Sen. Patrick Leahy)

It was 300 years ago this week that the British Parliament enacted the Statute of Anne, the original predecessor of modern day copyright law. Today these copyright laws are a cornerstone of the American economy. This milestone is a fitting time to reflect on the vitality of our copyright laws and to renew our commitment to strong intellectual property enforcement that ensures copyrighted works have the protections that allow them to contribute so much to our economy and culture.     

The Statute of Anne, named for Queen Anne, laid the groundwork for our laws that safeguard and reward the creativity of today’s artists and entrepreneurs. The Founders saw copyright protection as a sufficiently important duty of government to enshrine it in the Constitution, to promote “the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors . . . the exclusive right to their . . . writings.”

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Aspects of FCC's plan for broadband could have serious consequences for our recovering economy

With our nation’s unemployment rate stuck stubbornly near the double-digit mark, policymakers nationwide continue to look for ways to spur economic growth in the private sector – preferably without deepening the federal deficit.  One area where federal and state officials agree is that of expanding broadband Internet to underserved and unserved areas, which was a large part of the National Broadband Plan presented by the Federal Communications Commission to Congress on March 16th.  It is widely understood that boosting the nation’s broadband infrastructure would bring untold economic and social benefits.

The Plan acts as a blueprint for the general direction the federal government will take in aiding future broadband expansion efforts from both the private and public sectors.

The economic and social importance of the Internet and expanding broadband over the last decade reaches into the trillions of dollars. Therefore the FCC must tread carefully or risk curtailing an industry that has transformed not only American society, but the entire global marketplace.


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Protect the U.S. from cyber attacks (Rep. Yvette D. Clarke)

Securing our critical electronic infrastructure from cyber attack has become one of the most significant national security challenges for the United States in the 21st century.  Surprisingly, the technological fixes to this challenge may be easier to solve than the underlying policy questions.  One of the most fundamental and vexing problems for policymakers is defining the role of the Federal government in defending against nation state-level cyber attacks against critical infrastructure.

The United States relies primarily on voluntary efforts by owners and operators to secure critical infrastructure against cyber attack.  A majority of America’s critical infrastructure and key resources – electric grid, water facilities, manufacturing plants, etc. – is not owned, controlled, or regulated by the U.S. government.  Some owners and operators of regulated industries must comply with Federal legal requirements for securing their own information technology systems, but this is the exception and not the rule.

 

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LCLAA advocates for broadband in every home and business

The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) has just joined with 199 other companies and organizations as a member of the Broadband for America (BfA) coalition.  Like most organizations we are very careful with our brand, and don’t join organizations without doing a great deal of homework.  When the opportunity to join BfA was presented to us, we quickly realized that it fit perfectly with many of the aims and goals of LCLAA.
 
The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement is a national advocacy organization representing the interests of over 1.7 million Latino and Latina trade unionists throughout the U.S. and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.   Why would a trade union organization join hands with many of the Internet service providers and content distributors in the private sector?  For the same reason that the Cuban American National Council, Dominican American National Roundtable and others joined, to advocate for providing broadband Internet access to every home and business in America.  
 
LCLAA stands arm-in-arm with the Latino Health Institute of Beth Israel Medical Center, League of United Latin American Citizens, and the dozens of other Latino-focused organizations which have joined Broadband for America.

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Maintaining America's lead role in space (Rep. Bill Posey)

It’s my hope that both Congress and the Administration will continue to fly the Space Shuttle until either Constellation, America’s next generation space craft, is ready to launch or a domestic based company is certified to take humans to the space station. It’s critical to our national security, our economy and our technological edge that we maintain our leadership in space and our ability to send humans to the space station.
 
Several weeks ago the Administration put forth a NASA budget proposal which is seriously lacking in vision and mission. It appears to have been developed “on the fly” with little coordination between public and private stakeholders. And what NASA fails to fully understand, or at least obviously does not take into account, is the much broader military, industrial, and economic implications of their proposals.  It would be irresponsible for Congress to embrace this “plan” without further scrutiny.

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Broadband creates jobs

As the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the worst recession since the 1930s with the unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, the federal government is understandably focused on policies that could create jobs. At the same time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is putting the final touches on a National Broadband Plan. Unfortunately, few policymakers understand how much the deployment of new telecommunications technologies that underlie the broadband revolution have contributed to employment in the private economy. The National Broadband Plan should be carefully designed so as not to reduce the investment in broadband technologies, which have averaged $30 billion per year since 2005.

During the 2008-09 recession, total private nonresidential capital spending declined by more than 18 percent, but spending by telcos, cable operators, and wireless firms on broadband remained steady, declining by a bare 3 percent. The massive investments made in mobile and wired Internet capacity by the major network providers has sustained hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past six years, and we project that capital investment in broadband over the next few years would create approximately 509,000 jobs relative to a world without such investment.

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The need for broadband Internet adoption

The Internet “eco-system” has been one of the few areas of actual job growth in our economy over the past two years.  To begin with, the major network providers employ an estimated 180,000 workers in their own right.  But there is more. 


According to a study by Hamilton Consultants, “[s]ome 20,000 small businesses operate on the Internet, 120,000 individuals are primarily employed as eBay sellers, and 500,000 individuals have part-time businesses on eBay.” 

The figures get even higher when you add the number of self-employed who work exclusively from home --  which, according to the US Census Bureau, includes 8.1 million people in 2005 (the latest available data).  And the total population of people working from home – at least some of the time – was estimated to be 11.3 million.

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China’s Internet restrictions and censorship hinder economic growth (Rep. Mary Bono Mack)

Internet technologies and software applications, developed in the U.S., are broadening their reach and becoming an important part in the daily lives of people across the globe.  However, these firms are experiencing ongoing problems in countries like China with cyber attacks, censorship and discrimination that are limiting their ability to compete and hindering growth.

It is time that the U.S. regard these problems as a barrier to trade and demand fairness and consistency in how foreign governments regulate online commerce.  This will undoubtedly increase investment, expand this vibrant and growing sector of our economy, and better serve all people.

For this reason, I sent the following letter to the Department of Commerce, emphasizing that China’s discriminatory online policies must be addressed and the country must be held accountable for behavior that threatens our online industries:

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Broadband internet can help curb rising college costs

With the economy stuck in neutral, improving skills and increasing educational attainment remain keys to our economic recovery and long-term national health.  But with tuition rising faster than inflation, getting a college degree or securing the skills needed for a 21st century job is as hard as it’s ever been.
 
We need to contain the cost of education by utilizing new tools to allow people to get the training they need to get a job.  The good news is that we have the technology and tools to do this.  The bad news is that the policies and infrastructure necessary to drive cost savings to students, like ubiquitous access to high-speed Internet access, are not in place.
 
Distance education is, by far, the fastest growing portion of higher education. It’s cheaper to deliver a course online than face-to-face.  Students who participate using broadband place much less of a strain on an institution’s resources like light, heat, and parking lots.  In addition, distance education courses typically do not have pre-scheduled lectures with required attendance.  Instead, students rely on videos and other multimedia presentations.  With content delivery available at the student’s discretion, students are freer to move through a course at their own pace, rather than a fixed course schedule.

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