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Software Policy Priorities Look to the Future

The start of the new year gives us all a valuable opportunity to think ahead, and that includes Congress.  What can be accomplished?  What impact can be made now to have a lasting impact for years to come?  As every sector of the economy, and businesses of all sizes, increasingly use software in nearly everything they do, Americans are wondering how new technologies will affect their daily lives.  Issues ripe for progress this year include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, workforce development, and law enforcement access to data.  We are focused on helping policymakers achieve lasting accomplishments in all these areas.

  • As the risk of cyberattacks increases, there are a number of initiatives to help tackle those threats. How the government procures technology is critical, so implementing the Modernizing Government Technology Act and allowing the government to buy cybersecurity products with the best value are important priorities. Congress will consider national standards for data breach notification and Internet of Things devices, and the Administration will consider new export controls on cybersecurity products.  We also hope policymakers will focus on increasing the skills of the workforce to fight cybercrime, as well as leverage emerging tech like AI to combat attacks.
  • BSA will continue to help educate policymakers about the benefits of AI, including how the technology works and its impact on society. AI is not the image we see in sci-fi movies, but a tool that helps people solve complex problems. We can already see its impact in every industry across the country. We recognize Americans have questions about AI’s impact on jobs and how the technology is used, and we welcome conversations with policymakers on these topics.  Together we have the opportunity to hold meaningful dialogues with all stakeholders to develop a long-term AI strategy that encourages investments in education, workforce development, and research. This will prepare us for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
  • Workforce development is a priority for many Members of Congress as well as BSA companies, and we look forward to collaborating on initiatives. In late 2017, nearly 500,000 US computing jobs remained unfilled, but American universities only produced about 43,000 computer science graduates. The jobs of tomorrow won’t all require computer science degrees, but digital literacy will become increasingly important with the rise of technology in every industry. Reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act provide opportunities to strengthen our education system. BSA supports investments in STEM education that will help prepare our kids for future jobs, and programs that retrain and upskill current workers to succeed in today’s workplace.
  • BSA hopes to see progress on law enforcement access to data this year, both at home and abroad. The International Communications Privacy Act (or ICPA) would require a warrant for US law enforcement to access data stored abroad, providing clear and predictable rules for US companies. Last year, both chambers introduced legislation that would be modernize the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (or ECPA) by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before accessing domestic content stored in the cloud. A finalized bill would update the 30-year-old law and ensure Americans’ personal data is protected. BSA will continue working with Congress to pass this important legislation.

These issues matter to our industry because software powers new technologies. Software is a major driver of the US economy, supporting more than 10 million jobs, contributing $1.14 trillion to the US GDP, and adding $63 billion to domestic business R&D.  Every sector of the US economy relies on software. BSA members and the software industry are part of the solution to these issues, and we are eager to work with Congress and the Administration to chart a path forward through 2018, to 2028 and beyond.

For our full 2018 US Policy Agenda, click here.

Craig Albright

Author:

Craig Albright leads BSA's engagement with the US Congress.

Prior to joining BSA, he spent four years as the World Bank Group's Special Representative for the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, managing relations with government officials, private sector executives, think tank academics, civil society leaders and others. Before that, Albright spent more than 12 years in the US government. He served in the White House as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for Legislative Affairs and Deputy Assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney for Legislative Affairs. In Congress, his positions included Legislative Director and Chief of Staff for former Congressman Joe Knollenberg of Michigan and Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas.

Albright is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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