Now that President Obama has won a second term, he has a window of opportunity to address important issues facing the nation by reaching across party lines. One fruitful area for bipartisan agreement is technology. While it may not have received much attention during the campaign, technology can be a uniting cause that directly drives our national economy and supports our ability to compete globally.
As our political leaders turn to the pre-eminent issue of the near future -- addressing the fiscal cliff -- we at CompTIA call on policymakers to consider the importance of tech firms and entrepreneurs to our economy. While deficit control is vital and should be a priority, it should not be accomplished at the expense of our economic drivers: innovation, small business and workforce preparedness. We should identify savings from lower-priority programs that would allow the federal government to pursue its core missions, which include ensuring that strong and growing sectors of our economy, such as IT, continue to thrive.
Moreover, it is important to continue tax policies that spur innovation and the dynamism of our small businesses. For example, we should encourage accelerated depreciation on purchases of existing legacy and new innovative technologies so that U.S. business can not only keep up with the pace of innovation, but also outperform in a global economy. . Moving past this immediate imperative, the president can help spur growth and higher efficiencies in a wide swath of the economy by allowing small and medium-sized technology companies to realize their potential. One bipartisan priority should be easing access to capital to help small, innovative firms grow. Another should be preparing young people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines and translating those educational underpinnings into career-readiness for those who do not pursue four-year or higher-education degrees.
By advocating for the release of a greater quantity, and larger blocks, of unlicensed radio spectrum for short-range applications, the president can spur innovation and growth in a critical sector of the economy. Today, we take for granted the degree of access and freedom that Wi-Fi has brought us. In truth, the benefits to the U.S. and global economy are incalculable.
A continuing revolution could stem from an additional release of spectrum. Medical devices, machine-to-machine communication, telecommunications, retail, manufacturing automation and logistics all would experience unprecedented advances, with consumers ultimately benefiting through faster, more efficient services -- from healthcare and personal finance to purchasing, both online and off. Small startups and IT technicians could benefit enormously, creating new and well-paying jobs. Beyond the economic and consumer benefits, miles of cabling could be eliminated annually, saving billions of dollars of resources and lessening environmental impact.
Finally, as technology continues to evolve, one of the biggest unknowns IT companies confront every day is protecting their customers' data and the nation's infrastructure. While this is in itself challenging, it is made increasingly confusing by uncertainty over the definition of data-breach and notification requirements. Today, without a common national standard for data breach and notification, an awkward patchwork of state laws has emerged. This regulatory hairball limits the ability of small IT firms in particular to grow and compete across states, and it throws into question how issues of breach are dealt with in distributed cloud-computing environments. The president, by advocating strongly for a national standard for data breach, can help bring sanity and clarity to this murky arena. No one loses by the creation of a national standard -- there are only winners.
By seizing technology imperatives and unleashing the potential of small and medium-sized IT companies, the president and Congress can continue the drive for innovation, growth and broad consumer benefits.
Todd Thibodeaux is president and CEO of CompTIA.
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