Senate Democrats say US needs to boost tech investments to stay competitive

LAS VEGAS – The United States needs to invest more in technological advances to remain competitive in global markets, three senators said at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) on Friday.

Sen. Mark Warner (D. Virginia), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said one of his priorities this year is to advance investments in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced engineering and synthetic biology. said.

Warner said the U.S. should take action on these technologies, in line with the investments it made in passing CHIPS and the Science Act last year. But he said the country took largely reactionary steps on the bill’s investment in domestic chip manufacturing, arguing that Congress should be at the forefront of domestic technology investment “rather than after the fact.”

Warner spoke at CES in a conversation with Sen. Ben Ray Luhan (DN.M) and Sen. Jackie Rosen (D-Nevada).

The senator underscored the importance of investing in domestic production of critical technologies by noting the vast number of innovations on display at the show, from advances in automobiles to kitchen appliances.

They also outlined other priorities for the coming year, including promoting affordable broadband access for all Americans to bridge the digital divide.

If Democrats follow in the footsteps of bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, they could find allies across the aisle to facilitate funding.

They also appear to share potential targets with Republicans under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The controversial clause, which shields tech companies from liability for content posted by third parties, has faced opposition from both sides of the aisle, albeit for a variety of reasons.

Democrats argue that Section 230 allows hate speech and disinformation to spread online, while Republicans argue that it allows technology platforms to censor content with an anti-conservative bias. ing.

Warner said adding “guardrails to social media” and having a “long overdue debate” over Section 230 are among his priorities this year.

House Judiciary Committee Republican Policy and Strategy Counsel Tyler Grimm said on a separate CES panel that content moderation and Section 230 will be a key focus for the now Republican-controlled committee for the new year. said it was likely to be But given the chaotic situation in the House, which failed to elect a speaker after his 13th failed vote in the opening round of the year, exactly which path the House will take is uncertain. is unclear, he pointed out.

But Democrats may face more obstacles with technology proposals in other areas as they return to a divided Congress.

For example, if the House Judiciary Committee focuses on Section 230, one major implication is that antitrust reform proposals put forward in previous sessions may fall prematurely.

Nevertheless, antitrust reform advocates, such as Charlotte Sulaiman, director of competition policy at Public Knowledge, say they will not back down and will continue the fight for reform. , joining Grimm in a panel discussion, said he was optimistic about the path forward for antitrust reform.

Senate Democrats also mentioned the need for a federal data privacy bill, one of this year’s priorities.

Instead of federal bills, states have taken steps to create a patchwork of federal privacy laws that the tech industry has widely claimed make it more difficult for businesses, especially small businesses, to comply with the various laws. I was.

A comprehensive federal data privacy bill passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee last year, but the accompanying bill moved forward in the Senate after it failed to gain support from Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash). I could not do it.

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