WASHINGTON — Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee, told a State of the Net audience here Tuesday (Jan. 29) that regulators and legislators need to make sure they are not looking in the rearview mirror or putting up roadblocks to innovators who are looking ahead, not backwards.
The former chair of the subcommittee now has to provide advice, and consent when appropriate, to the Democratic majority's prioritizing of communications issues.
Latta said it was important the people were out there innovating, rather than worrying about getting more regulations put on them.
Latta said that one message he has brought back from his visit to tech startups is they are focused on innovation, so there is not a compliance officer sitting in the corner of the room.
He also pointed out that a couple of Congress's ago he was co-leader of an Internet of Things working group. The one thing stakeholders from across the spectrum said, according to Latta, was that they weren't against regulation, but that soft-touch regulations would allow them to "go out and innovate." He said it was important to remember that.
Latta said he thought there was room for consensus on network neutrality, which would arguably be a first if that were the case. That said, he made a pitch for keeping internet service providers under Title I of the Communications Act. That will still be a hard sell with Democrats, many of which say Title I is a nonstarter.
He said that there are pro-consumer uses for location data, but that access to services, sometimes life-saving ones, must be balanced with privacy protections. He signaled that is another area of potential bipartisan agreement. He said it is important not to throw the "Life Alert" baby out with the privacy bathwater, citing his mother's use of that geolocation technology when she had a fall.