Digital Policy Roundup

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Groundbreaking Study of U.S. Software Industry Shows Wide-Ranging Impact on GDP, Productivity, Exports and Jobs

At a lunch time event Wednesday – featuring an armchair discussion with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews – SIIA released the results of a comprehensive study of the economic impact of the U.S. software industry. The software industry has had a substantial, transformative impact on the American economy. Regarded as an enabling technology in use by virtually all sectors, software has become a critical driver of productivity, growth and employment. Disputing claims that automation hurts jobs, the SIIA analysis found that software contributes to job growth in three critical ways.

To produceThe U.S. Software Industry: An Engine for Economic Growth and Employment, SIIA worked with independent economic analysis firm Sonecon and its chairman and co-founder Robert Shapiro, former undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs under President Bill Clinton. The study represents a rigorous empirical analysis of the economic effects arising from the diffusion of software across U.S. businesses and households.

To read the executive summary, click here. To access a brief power point presentation of Shapiro’s findings, click here.

SIIA Applauds Passage of H.R. 5233, the Trade Secrets Protection Act

Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 5233, the “Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2014,” and voted to favorably report it to the House of Representatives. SIIA released a press statement in favor of the bill’s passage. . H.R. 5233 would establish a cause of action in federal court by an owner of a trade secret who is injured by the misappropriation of a trade secret that is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in the interstate or foreign commerce. During the markup, a few members questioned whether legislation was needed since almost all states provide protection for trade secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, but otherwise there was broad bipartisan support for the measure. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s markup Chairman Goodlatte noted that the bill will not be taken up in the House until sometime during the post-elections “lame duck” session. The bill and an amendment adopted during the markup will eventually be found here.

SIIA Participates in FTC Big Data Workshop

On Sept. 15, SIIA VP of Public Policy, Mark MacCarthy, participated in the Federal Trade Commission’s workshop: Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion? Speeches by FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and FTC Commissioner Julie Brill provided an overview of the key objectives of the FTC in this area. Particularly they are assessing current laws and potential gaps in the law that could allow “big data” or analytics to lead to discrimination or “digital redlining.” To that end, Commissioner Brill reiterated her challenge to “the data broker industry,” urging them to “take stronger, proactive steps right now to address the potential impact of their products that profile consumers by race, ethnicity or other sensitive classifications, or that are proxies for such sensitive classifications.” In particular she urged data providers to investigate how their clients are using data and stop doing business with those whose use is “inappropriate.” In addition to seeking to prevent discrimination, the FTC is encouraging industry to take affirmative steps to utilize data and technology to empower the underserved.

Data is increasingly a strategic, core component of SIIA members’ business models, and many of these companies are leaders in providing data analytics and data-driven innovation. Therefore, SIIA has been a strong proponent policies that data-driven innovation. Prior to the FTC workshop, SIIA hosted a workshop on Capitol Hill highlighting the uses of data and data analytics for empowerment and risk mitigation.

In conjunction with the workshop, the FTC is accepting additional comments. SIIA will work with members to submit comments on this important issue on behalf of members and the industry.

Outgoing European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes Delivers Swansong Speech at Georgetown University

Kroes spoke of her hope for a transatlantic digital single market. The Vice-President delivered a mostly positive upbeat talk, although she did mention the surveillance revelations. Kroes emphasized that for a transatlantic digital market to flourish, online transactions must be secure, and that networks and systems must be protected from attack. She supported the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The Commission official added that within the EU alone, a digital single market could be worth 4% of GDP, i.e. $1500 per EU citizen. She emphasized the importance of an open Internet. A recurring theme in her speech was that ICT was not a purely American invention. Kroes said: “25 years ago, a network first devised for the U.S. military, benefited from protocols developed by a British scientist working in Switzerland. Today, the Internet is now used by 3 billion people across the world, the platform for billions of dollars of trade.”

David David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.