New CEI Report Finds Bipartisan Embrace of Harmful, Interventionist Tech Policies

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Neither major political party holds a monopoly on bad ideas when it comes to federal policy towards the technology sector, according to a new report released today by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Terrible Tech 2.0,” co-authored by CEI experts Jessica Melugin, Iain Murray, Wayne Crews, Patrick Hedger, Ryan Young, and John Berlau, catalogues and analyzes the worst tech policy proposals coming out of Washington, DC and concludes that a hands-off approach from the federal government – a “separation of tech and state” – will best foster innovation.

The report finds a bipartisan impulse toward interventionist policies aimed at the Internet, apps, devices, and the algorithms and artificial intelligence that make them possible. It highlights how these interventionist policies – by Republicans in particular – would lead to legal and regulatory uncertainty for entrepreneurs and less innovation.

Proposals analyzed in “Terrible Tech 2.0” include: Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act,” the bipartisan “Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act” (S. 1629) introduced by Sen. Hawley, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), the “Deceptive Experiences to Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act” (S. 1084), and many more. The report also details the Securities and Exchange Commission’s regulatory power grab over the cryptocurrency sector without any authorization from Congress or even a formal rule.

“It is disappointing to see harmful, interventionist approaches to tech gain support on both sides of the aisle,” said associate director of CEI’s Center for Tech and Innovation Jessica Melugin. “The United States should continue policies that empower technology users and reject European Union-style paternalism and China-style controls on how people use technology.”

“Policy makers, including Republicans, should stop pursuing laws and regulations that expand the influence of powerful agencies like the FTC and FCC. Instead they should support the separation of tech and state,” said Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews.

“Overly burdensome regulation will create legal and regulatory hassles for small businesses and start-ups – a reason some large firms favor government intervention – and the development of newer technologies and services, which is one of the great hidden costs of regulation,” said Vice President for Strategy Iain Murray. “Market solutions, unlike legislation, better address the myriad problems that inevitably arise in a free, competitive economy.”

“Technology has been an essential part of the COVID-19 response,” said senior fellow Ryan Young. “New technologies have make a difficult lockdown easier by enabling contactless grocery deliveries, remote work and school, telemedicine, kept friends and family connected, and even provided some levity with streaming media like Tiger King. The tech regulations we examine in our paper would hurt the COVID-19 response. They would lock in existing technologies and block new ones, make it harder for people to find work, give established big companies an unfair advantage over startups, censor political speech, and put politics over people—not to mention their health.”

Read the full report here: