Talking Tech with Internet Association’s Michael Beckerman


 

If an internet policy isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

That’s the message Michael Beckerman, president and chief executive officer of Internet Association, has for the Trump administration and Congress on several big-ticket tech policy questions. The association represents companies such as PayPal Holdings Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

Internet industry investment has thrived under the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality framework, Beckerman told Bloomberg BNA in a recent video interview. Currently, websites and apps can compete on an even playing field because internet service providers (ISP), like AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp., are prohibited from blocking or throttling content, he said.

“Imagine if back in 2005 or even 2010 ISPs were able to play gatekeeper or charge entry, you wouldn’t have all these new companies coming up and creating jobs and growing our economy,” Beckerman said.

Innovation has also soared online because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Beckerman said. Some lawmakers want to make changes to the law, which shields internet publishers from liability due to content posted by third parties on their site. The law has been tested in recent court cases against claims online publishers enabled sex-trafficking and terrorism activities.

Beckerman said the law has enabled online services to flourish in the U.S. as compared to other countries without those protections.

“Anything that’s going to weaken that would be incredibly problematic for our sector and its future growth and whatever’s coming up next,” Beckerman said.

The Internet Association is also trying to work with the government to shape digital trade policies.

“When you look at digital trade, this is an area that we’re incredibly excited about working with the administration to update some of the trade deals like NAFTA,” he said.

Negotiations for a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement and deals with China should include intellectual property protections, prohibit data localization and allow for liability protections similar to Section 230, he said.