The Future of Tech Commission is an independent and bipartisan working group of civic leaders developing a comprehensive, inclusive tech policy agenda for the nation.
The Future of Tech Commission
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
FUTURE OF TECH COMMISSION RELEASES "BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION,"
A COORDINATED FEDERAL TECH POLICY AGENDA TO PROTECT
AMERICA'S PRIVACY, FAMILIES, AND FUTURE
Enacting a national federal privacy law, updating online protections for children and teens, and holding platforms accountable to curb the spread of misinformation and disinformation top the Commission's "to-do" list for Congress and the Biden Administration
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 16, 2022) — Today, the Future of Tech Commission released "The Future of Tech: A Blueprint for Action," which recommends a coordinated federal tech policy agenda to protect the privacy and safety of consumers, children, and families, and to safeguard America's future from the outsize power of large technology companies. The release of the Commission's blueprint comes at a pivotal moment as Washington debates whether to regulate tech companies and with voters from both sides of the aisle strongly supporting government action to better protect them from the Wild West of the tech sector.
The Blueprint for Action addresses some of the most urgent tech policy challenges and opportunities facing America's economy, society, and even its democracy. The report, which was informed by input from thousands of Americans over the last year during public town halls, public opinion surveys, and interviews with leading experts, outlines recommendations around six core tech issues: data privacy and the related issue of platform safety, cybersecurity, market competition, technological innovation, and universal access to broadband.
The Commission's top recommendations:
- Enact a national federal privacy law that gives consumers control of their privacy;
- Update the children's privacy law to strengthen protections for kids and teens;
- Require greater transparency and accountability around the algorithmic spread of misinformation and disinformation;
- Improve cyber protections by establishing regional, public-private cybersecurity centers;
- Increase market competition in the tech sector; and
- Invest in tech innovation
The Blueprint for Action includes results from two polls of Republican, Democratic, and independent voters — conducted with Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) and Public Opinion Strategies in late summer of 2021, and with BSG again in February 2022 — that demonstrate strong bipartisan support for federal government action on tech policy. According to the most recent survey, when it comes to protecting privacy, 78% of voters surveyed support requiring companies to allow consumers the right to "opt-in" before sharing any of their personal data; on protecting the country's future, 75% agree that if the United States does not establish rules and guardrails around dangerous or false content online, our democracy could be under threat; and on protecting kids and teens, 75% of voters support prohibiting companies from collecting personal data on anyone 16 or under.
Passing a comprehensive federal privacy law that gives consumers control of their privacy is central to the Commission's blueprint to not only protect the data of consumers, kids, and families, but also reduce the spread of online harms and misinformation. According to the report, any federal privacy law must require companies to implement policies of data minimization with respect to personal data collection and use, such as restricting their collection and use of data to what they require to provide their services.
The bipartisan Commission's co-chairs, former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, and Common Sense Media Founder and CEO James P. Steyer, called the release of the blueprint a great opportunity for American leadership.
"Technology has obviously become integral to American society, industry, education, health, and national security. That makes the stakes higher than ever and increases the need for our country to put into place new protections for families, individuals, and institutions," said Margaret Spellings, president and CEO of Texas 2036 and former U.S. secretary of education under President George W. Bush. "The time is right for our country to come together in support of an actionable bipartisan plan that harnesses the power of technology to spur American innovation and allows people, not companies, to have the ability to protect themselves and their families."
"We talked to hundreds of people — from policymakers and public officials to ordinary users, tech CEOs and advocates, as well as teachers and parents — and it's clear we need a better balance between tech innovation and personal privacy," said Governor Deval Patrick. "American innovation is uniquely suited to both enhance and protect national security, personal privacy, our children's safety, and democracy itself, but our leaders must set uniform, universal, and trustworthy standards — and do so now."
"One of the things that stuck out the most when talking to people and looking at the polling data is that Americans are deeply concerned about their privacy and their family's safety online. But families are no match for the power and influence of big tech companies," said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. "It's time for the government to step in and establish basic guardrails to protect our privacy and our families, and the American people are clearly looking for leadership in Washington to make protecting kids and families from online harms a top priority."
Over the last year, in an effort to ensure that the nation's tech policy agenda represented every corner of America, the Commission organized virtual town hall meetings in collaboration with rural and urban communities in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas, sought input from approximately 150 experts, civic advocates, and leading tech CEOs through interviews and discussions, and conducted two national polls.