Internet Association President & CEO Michael Beckerman welcomed guests to the VC on the Hill conference, highlighting the ties between IA’s annual Virtuous Circle event in California and the day’s event in DC to bring together thought leaders on innovation policy.
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) gave a keynote address emphasizing the ongoing importance of net neutrality rules for online platforms. Congresswoman Eshoo also emphasized the need to ensure digital issues remain bipartisan issues, and recognized the ongoing need for more high skilled immigration to ensure the best and brightest remain in the US.
Senator Ron Wyden delivered a keynote address on the state of digital trade, calling for an updated NAFTA framework that includes key provisions for the digital economy, including modern customs rules, balanced IP framework, and intermediary liability protections modeled after Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
A panel of IA companies, including Etsy, eBay, Google, and Amazon, discussed opportunities for new digital trade provisions in the upcoming NAFTA negotiation. Etsy, Amazon and eBay highlighted the need for small sellers to be able to cross borders without onerous customs provisions, and all companies emphasized the need for the free flow of data and balanced IP.
Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) discussed the importance of the internet to businesses nationwide, highlighting her focus on broadband access as a new member of the Senate Commerce Committee as well as the Capito Connect Initiative in her home state.
IA Chief Economist Christopher Hooton presented the findings of a new report from NERA on the economic value of the U.S. safe harbors, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and Section 512 of the Copyright Act. A panel of experts from R Street, Engine, FreedomWorks, and the Center for Democracy and Technology discussed the ongoing need for both safe harbors to remain robust for the promotion of innovation and creativity. The panel agreed that US leadership in this area was critical for both free speech and startup growth, and agreed that even attempted to “narrowly” amend the laws would undermine positive growth for the online ecosystem.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) discussed the ongoing need to innovate here in the US and around the world, advocating for free trade agreements and a strong commitment to free market development of new idea and technologies.
Online sellers and micro businesses held a luncheon discussion about the ability to engage in the flexible economy through online platforms. Participants highlighted that opportunities provided by the gig economy allowed them to supplement earning potential with the freedom to chose their own hours according to individual needs, and the ease of entering into these new ventures was a key driver of their success.
IA Senior Vice President Gina Woodworth led a fireside chat with Matt Lira, Special Assistant to the President for Innovation Policy and Initiatives. Matt highlighted that the White House’s tech week in June was the start of a continuing dialogue over how to modernize government and harness the power of technology to improve operations. Matt also emphasized the importance of an inclusive and robust conversation with thought leaders and technologists to achieve shared goals across the political spectrum.