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Tech’s Congressional Agenda: Successes in 2015

An unexpected break from the norm happened in Washington last year – despite all predictions to the contrary, Congress and the President actually got to work and produced several bipartisan wins for the technology sector and our economy in general. We give credit where credit is due, and we applaud Congress and the President for working together to advance these policies in 2015 that affect the growth and success of the tech sector:

  • Surveillance Reform: In June, Congress passed the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, which ended the indiscriminate bulk collection of call detail records. It also ushered in needed transparency by allowing companies to report information about the government orders they receive regarding access to data. These reforms are important to help restore public trust in both the U.S. government and the technology sector as we continue to innovate and compete in global markets.
  • Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): In late June, Congress approved the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, ensuring that future trade agreements reflect the critical role that the technology sector plays in the U.S. economy. In addition to addressing traditional market access and product treatment priorities, TPA sets new standards to protect data flow and ensure fair treatment for digital goods and services. This reflects a maturing of the digital economy and the role of technology-enabled goods and services goes beyond just the tech sector.
  • Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit: Congress passed significant tax legislation, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, at the end of 2015 that included a long-standing priority for our members to make the R&D tax credit permanent at the 14 percent rate. The bill also extended the Controlled Foreign Corporations Look-Through provision through 2019. By making the R&D tax credit permanent, Congress provided businesses with the certainty needed to invest and create new technologies here in the United States.
  • Cybersecurity Threat Information Sharing: The ability to share timely cyber threat information between government and industry is vital to defending our cybersecurity networks. After many years of delay, Congress successfully passed the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which will allow for the timely and voluntary sharing of cyber threat information. Successful implementation of the new law will depend on ensuring a working civilian portal and strong privacy protections to encourage broad private sector participation.

After the paralysis which gripped Washington following the government shutdown, the political punditry predicted more gridlock and partisanship in 2015. Even though we find ourselves in a charged political landscape, we saw success on many of our legislative priorities in 2015. Can Congress continue this momentum going into 2016? In my next blog, I will outline the policy items we will be advocating for in the year ahead.

Public Policy Tags: Trade & Investment, Surveillance Reform, Cybersecurity, Tax Policy, Data & Privacy