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Feb 12, 201911:04 AMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

In a divided Washington, tech agenda looks for common ground

(page 2 of 2)

Infrastructure: One of the few bipartisan applause lines during Trump’s speech was his mention on rebuilding America’s infrastructure, which is often characterized as roads, bridges, and other brick-and-mortar projects. Lawmakers were urged not to overlook tech in the mix, including broadband connections, winning the international competition to increase 5G networks, cyber solutions to secure the energy grid, and smart technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of transportation.

Data privacy: The United States was a leader in data privacy laws decades ago, but not enough is being done at the federal level today to prevent personal information from being misused. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation aims to harmonize privacy laws across the EU, but critics say it continues practices that have long stifled innovation there. China’s data privacy protocol is even more far-reaching and, some argue, dangerous, given fears of cyber-snooping on U.S. tech companies. Members of Congress were urged to adopt federal standards that would pre-empt 51 different state privacy laws, an outcome that would make a mess of interstate commerce while confusing consumers.

Trade: It’s no longer a question of whether the North American Free Trade Agreement will be replaced. The question is what rises in its place. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have described the USMCA as a modernized trilateral pact that protects market access, safeguards intellectual property, and enhances digital trade. Sticking points for the overall agreement remain, however, especially on steel and aluminum tariffs and farm provisions. The worst possible outcome: NAFTA goes away without a successor, which would be akin to the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” dilemma and potentially disastrous for the economy.

In a city polarized on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the prospects for progress are dim. Building a better workforce and infrastructure, agreeing on a common privacy protocol, and enhancing 21st century trade deserve bipartisan attention at the least.

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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