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Proposal for federal tech policy focuses on privacy, security

The Future of Tech Commission wants the federal government to initiate a coordinated effort to address issues like data privacy and competition.

Civic leaders want Congress and the Biden administration to adopt a national tech strategy addressing data privacy, cybersecurity, competition in online marketplaces and American leadership in innovation.

The Future of Tech Commission released a tech policy blueprint Wednesday that called for specific actions, including adoption of a federal data privacy law, establishing regional cybersecurity centers and providing additional resources to address anticompetitive practices within the tech sector.

The tech policy blueprint aims to provide a broad strategy for the numerous concerns around big tech, particularly those related to privacy and antitrust, topics that have garnered congressional interest over the last two years but have yet to result in enacted legislation.

The Future of Tech Commission, launched in April 2021, is a working group led by former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Common Sense Media founder and CEO James P. Steyer. The commission developed the federal tech policy strategy based on conversations with government and business leaders, as well as public input.

Americans from all walks of life depend on tech in their daily lives, but they are looking for guardrails, Steyer said during a video event announcing the tech policy strategy.

"We don't want the tech companies by themselves determining what the rules of the road are," he said. "We need strong, decisive, coordinated leadership from the federal government."

Tech policy blueprint focuses on coordination

The tech policy blueprint outlined a strategy for addressing multiple concerns levied against big tech that have played out in federal hearings and legislative efforts over the last two years. 

As separate efforts advance to tackle these issues, Steyer said the goal of the blueprint was to provide a comprehensive strategy for handling the different concerns. He said that the federal government needs to provide a "strong, coordinated policy" to make sure technology is used safely and effectively. 

Patrick said that no one law can fully address the "complex and intertwined aspects" of the tech challenges the country faces, but the strategy blueprint is one step to address them.

"It's a comprehensive set of ideas and recommendations," he said. "Some for action by the executive branch, some for action by the legislative branch, some for action by federal agencies, many by private organizations and businesses. All of us working together."

Protecting children's privacy

Alongside the commission's recommendation for a federal data privacy law, the commission also recommended adoption of a new children's privacy law to strengthen protections for children and teens using online platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat.

The blueprint for action outlined by the Future of Tech Commission is a powerful guide.
Sen. Richard BlumenthalD-Conn.

In parallel with this recommendation, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act on Wednesday.

"The blueprint for action outlined by the Future of Tech Commission is a powerful guide and our legislation, I believe, will align with that blueprint in setting forth tools and options for parents to protect their children," Blumenthal said during the tech policy blueprint release.

In their report, the commission recommends the White House establish a technology coordinating council to help drive progress of the national tech policy strategy. 

Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget, she was a general reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.

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