The State of the Net is Strong

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The Annual State of the Net Conference is held every January in Washington, D.C.  Organized by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, it brings together policymakers and advocates, including EDUCAUSE Policy staff, to highlight the most pressing Internet and technology policy issues in the year ahead.  While there is widespread enthusiasm and optimism from both the technology industry and user community about the future of IT, there is growing skepticism that the Congress will play any significant role in shaping policy due to its recent record of inaction.

The co-chairs of the Congressional Internet Caucus, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), who were both present at the event and sometimes viewed as figureheads for the Caucus, hold very influential positions on Capitol Hill.  Rep. Goodlatte was recently named chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee.  The judiciary committee is likely the body to take up reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and is historically known for its enforcement of intellectual property rights on behalf of rights-holders.  The Judiciary Committee has also been one of several Congressional committees who have sought stronger cybersecurity legislation.  Rep. Eshoo serves as the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology for the 113th Congress. She is the first woman in the history of the Subcommittee to serve in a leadership role.  Rep. Eshoo has vowed to work with her colleagues on expanding high-speed, affordable broadband, protecting electronic privacy, freeing up more spectrum and transitioning our nation's 9-1-1 system to a next generation, IP-based network. Rep. Eshoo has been a strong champion of preserving an open Internet.  

The conference agenda is a clear indication of the policy issues that are presently before the Nation’s policymakers and on the minds of both the technology and user communities:

  • Data Analytics and Big Data
  • Rewriting the Telecom Act
  • Internet Music
  • Communications Privacy
  • Big Broadband
  • First Sale and the Internet
  • Cybersecurity Legislation, Regulation, and Executive Order
  • Internet Freedom
  • Cloud Computing for Adopters and Policymakers
  • Internet Leadership and Economic Policy

It is expected that the next four years will be a busy period for Internet and technology policy advocates as the Obama administration aggressively pursues its innovation and economic agenda that directly invoke the role of IT in the future of America.  The use of technology for education, a key point of discussion as part of the Cloud Computing Panel, will remain an important priority for the Administration and EDUCAUSE Policy.  While the Annual State of Net event, held on the heels of the presidential inauguration, may have concluded that the state of the net is strong, it is a reminder of the importance of diverse sectors working together – with or without strong leadership or participation from policymakers – to ensure that we leverage technology and the Internet to address some of the nation’s most complex and compelling economic and social challenges.