The Washington Post Urges Bipartisan Action To Address “The Digital Age’s Most Urgent Problems”

Date: November 19, 2018

The Washington Post Urges Bipartisan Action To Address “The Digital Age’s Most Urgent Problems”

In a panel with The Washington Post just days after the election, U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, a Silicon Valley Congressman who introduced an “Internet Bill of Rights” in October, summarized the technology issues he believes Democrats should prioritize in the 116th Congress: broadband expansion, net neutrality and privacy.  While the Republican approach to the issues vary, reports indicate both parties are likely to hash out solutions to broadband expansion and privacy together.

Enshrining net neutrality into law is worthy of a similar bipartisan push.  Yet, Rep. Khanna gave indications that the approach of some would be to seek to reimpose Depression-era Title II regulations on the Internet, which had previously stifled innovation and broadband investment.  As The Washington Post stated, such an approach would be a non-starter in the split Congress and policymakers would be better served finding consensus:

“Many issues under the tech umbrella animate politicians largely along party lines, and Democrats could use their power come January to champion pet progressive causes.  Net-neutrality proponents are already discussing the possibility of congressional Democrats holding hearings on the effect of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to eliminate Obama-era rules, if not crafting a bill to restore those strictures … These areas need attention, but a Republican Senate could stymie Democrats’ efforts before any bill reached President Trump’s desk – and failed to earn a signature.  Legislative energy would be better spent on an issue in which Republicans and companies alike have incentive to engage: privacy.”  

Federal net neutrality legislation, however, is not a lost cause and should be prioritized to avoid a patchwork of state laws, which the push for federal privacy legislation is also attempting to prevent.  A national approach is vital, as 50 laws for 50 states would endanger critical investments necessary to fuel Congress’ shared goal of connecting more Americans to broadband access.

“Democrats might be wary of handing the president a win with a big bill on a hot-button subject.  But addressing some of the digital age’s most urgent problems would be a win for all Americans too.” 

Democrats and Republicans in Congress must bridge the gap between them and pass a bipartisan and comprehensive solution that ensures a free and open Internet that protects Americans’ rights online.

To read the full editorial, please click here