I’m delighted to be here and I want to thank Tim Lordan for the work that he does for the Internet Education Foundation in his leadership in guiding the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee. He does an outstanding job, along with the co-chairs both in the Senate and in the House. I’m very proud to be one of the co-chairs along with my wonderful colleague Bob Goodlatte. I often tease him and say that he loves to spend more time in my district than maybe even his own. It is a wonderful place and a very distinguished place in our country, so thank you for inviting me here today and as I said I’m very, very pleased to be part of the Internet Caucus and co-chair it, and one of the original co-founders of it.
We all miss Rick Boucher in the House. There are very few that possessed the understanding, the very broad and deep understanding of telecommunications issues, internet issues, and so they are big shoes to fill in terms of being the ranking member at that committee. Which I love. I’ve been on the Communication and Internet Subcommittee since first going to Energy and Commerce, as Tim said, in 1995.
I just returned from a congressional delegation to the Middle East and whenever you travel outside of our country, I think that one can’t help but reflect on what American leadership is all about, and how others view us, how essential American leadership is, that everything we do, everything that we build, everything that we create is looked up to and is sought to be replicated in other parts of the world. So really what our work has to reflect is American leadership.
There’s no question about that, but you have, I think, a renewal of appreciation of what that leadership is about and what it means to the rest of the world and our place on the world stage. It’s the genius, it’s the innovation, it’s the creativity that over decades and more than two centuries have really established America as a true leader in the world. And now American leadership and innovation is driving the ever-expanding use of wireless broadband and with it thousands of jobs being created across our country.
I’m very, very proud to represent Silicon Valley in the Congress. It is the innovation hub of our nation and platform providers like Apple and Google and HP are empowering new startups. Empowering new startups and with that comes obviously American jobs, American creativity, American renewal, so to speak, enabling developers to create and market their mobile applications to millions of users around the world.
Much of the conversation in Congress, with legitimacy, is focused on spectrum, and rightfully so. The president has set a very ambitious goal of freeing up 500 megahertz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next 10 years. There is no question that there is an insatiable appetite for not only spectrum but with it everything going to wireless and so this is a very, very important conversation and very important decision that we’re going to be making at the committee.
But I think our conversation has to go beyond just the need for more spectrum. What are the applications that will use this spectrum, and how can Congress promote policies that will enable these new businesses to thrive and to create even more jobs in our nation?
One such area is the mobile apps market, which to date has experienced stunning, I mean it’s really stunning growth. I think I’m preaching to the choir but it is more than worth mentioning. Just three years ago, Apple’s App Store contained only 500 third-party apps. Today there are over 350,000. That’s why I said it’s stunning.
The vast majority of these apps are developed by small businesses, and every week and I’ve commuted across the country every week now for 18½ years, I visit the small companies; some of them actually in garages. I was in one recently that was a plumbing business, a family plumbing business for over 100 years, and now it is one of these new small startups. It is very, very exciting.
So why should Congress care? This growth has important economic and social implications. Over the next three years, the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) estimates that the mobile apps economy will create, save, or supplement 600,000 U.S. jobs. That is very, very good news. That is very good news, but we need to help to make that a reality.
I’m very proud of what my district is accomplishing, and this growth is important and it’ll continue to occur across the country. In fact, 70 percent of the top 500 mobile apps today are developed outside of California. From Birmingham, Alabama, to Spring Hope, North Carolina. This is happening and this is very, very good and important news for our country.
One organization—and I think this is fairly fascinating and interesting—one organization that’s helping to drive this growth is Moms With Apps. It’s based in my district and Moms With Apps has brought together more than 400 developers from around the world who are focused on building apps for kids and families.
So the sky’s the limit. What is one individual’s imagination today is someone’s app for tomorrow. These apps inform, they entertain, and they make lives easier every day or make lives more interesting every day. No longer are mobile devices just a means for accessing email and basic news on the go. They now allow us to stream movies, play online games, participate in video conferences, and much more.
With the growth of these third-party developed applications comes a responsibility to protect the privacy of users. I recently held a town-hall meeting in Palo Alto to discuss these issues and there was a marvelous turnout of both adults/parents and young people. Each have their own view and their own take on this but privacy, as I’ve often said, I think is in the DNA of the American people. We don’t want the government to know or looking over our shoulders; what’s personal, is personal. And so there are some lines to be drawn on this and I think that privacy and the responsibility to protect the privacy of users is a very important issue.
Today information is shared more freely and quickly than ever before, especially by the younger generation. I think this younger generation has a different view on privacy than those of us that are older, but nonetheless privacy is still important.
The private sector has a very important part to play in this, I believe, in developing new technologies which can protect consumer privacy on the internet, and I think there’s a roll in the public sector to ensure that users’ public information is safe from misuse and abuse. No one wants to have this hijacked and not know where it’s going or who is going to be able to make use of it.
So transparency’s a critical element of this discussion. Consumers should know what information is being collected, how it’s being used, and who has access to that data.
But I think that we need to, on the public side, to strike a very delicate balance here. Because I believe that we can protect privacy without inhibiting job creation and the development of new innovative data-driven apps and services. We don’t want to stifle innovation in the name of privacy, so I think that it’s a set of very important bookends and a delicate balance that Congress is going to need to strike.
As we look to the future, we need to ensure that these emerging businesses have the ingredients to succeed. Our investment in more spectrum for wireless broadband with carefully balanced privacy rules, I think will facilitate the creation of new jobs and drive the success of companies as we enter the second decade of the 21st century. I think we don’t realize that this much time is already past. We were busy celebrating the beginning of the 21st century; we’re now beginning the second decade of the 21st century.
I have no doubt that the leaders in my district will help to shape new success stories not only in this second decade of the 21st century, but for the remainder of it. I think the challenge to those of us in Congress is to keep up with that. Is to keep up with that and make sure that there aren’t any weeds in the way of these achievements. One of the most exciting things for me being a part of the subcommittee is that this is such an important sector of our national economy, and that what we do can really enhance it. So I look forward to the work. I’m not necessarily looking forward to the 11 or 21 amendments that are coming up on the House Floor.
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