The United States is falling behind in global digital leadership amid growing anti-tech sentiments in politics hindering innovation and economic growth in the digital space across the United States, according to a new report.
The report titled “Restoring U.S. Leadership on Digital Policy” – published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on July 31 – features a 15-point plan on how to get the U.S.’s leadership position in digital policy on the world stage.
During the 1990s, the United States emerged as a global leader in digital policy in part due to its pro-innovation approach to digital innovation. However, with growing partisanship and a lack of interest in promoting U.S. digital policy across multiple White House administrations and within Congress, the U.S.’s global dominance in digital policy has declined in recent years, allowing for allies like the EU and foreign adversaries like China to fill a digital power vacuum.
Recent actions by presidential administrations have also hindered the U.S.’s position as a global leader in digital policy.
For example, according to the report, President Joe Biden’s efforts to promote global data privacy and fair economic competition through the Declaration for the Future of the Internet could eventually become a burdensome and over-regulated initiative.
Another example is former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would have helped to protect global data flows among 12 trans-Pacific countries.
There have been ongoing conversations within the Federal government about the race to be a leader in the digital landscape.
However, according to the report, a key factor in the U.S. regaining its global leadership role is for presidential administrations to make up their mind – implementing an EU-style digital regulatory approach, “which will have the result of damaging U.S. digital leadership and eroding U.S. soft power,” or unambiguously endorse a “light-touch, pro-innovation digital agenda.”
“The United States could regain its position as a global leader on digital policy by prioritizing a pro-innovation agenda, cooperating with its allies to advance free trade and democratic values, and pushing back against harmful narratives and policies,” the report says.
The plan outlines the steps the Federal government should take to maintain U.S. competitiveness on the global scale, such as directing the State Department to lead a global campaign to promote U.S. tech policy and calling for the White House to make U.S. global leadership on digital policy a top priority.
It also directs the U.S. Trade Representative to push for more countries to sign onto the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement, which aims to reduce barriers and tariffs on a vast range of information technology products.