U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews Addresses Digital Economy Board of Advisors Meeting

Sep302016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 30, 2016

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews delivered opening remarks at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors (DEBA) meeting in Mountain View, California. Established by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker earlier this year, the DEBA serves as a centralized forum for gathering consensus input from a wide range of stakeholders and experts to help businesses and consumers realize the potential of the digital economy to advance growth and opportunity.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews thanked Board members for their contributions to the Commerce Department’s successes in the digital economy space. The Department of Commerce has promoted a free and open Internet by implementing agreements such as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, and continues working to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which limits digital protectionism in the Asia-Pacific’s dynamic markets. Additionally, through the privatization of the Domain Name System (DNS), the Commerce Department has worked to protect Internet freedom worldwide and entrust Internet governance to the people, while continuing to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at home and abroad. In closing, the Deputy Secretary charged the Board with informing and inspiring the next Administration to make the digital economy a top priority.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. It’s my pleasure to kick off the second meeting of the Department of Commerce’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors. Let me begin by thanking our co-chairs, Zoe Baird and Mitchell Baker, for their dedication and their leadership.

Indeed, Secretary Pritzker and I are grateful to every one of you for lending your time and your expertise to this Board. In just a few moments, you will hear from Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling and Digital Economy Director Alan Davidson – two members of the Department of Commerce’s digital brain trust.

But first, I want to spend just a few moments putting your work on this Board within the context of our Department’s broader digital economy agenda. Everyone here knows that we live in a time of great innovation and opportunity. The Department of Commerce’s mission is to create the conditions needed for our companies, communities, and people to seize those opportunities and to compete in the 21st century.

In the digital economy, every business of every size and sector is a digital company; from the global technology company that serves clients around the world to the local farmer’s market vendor processing your payment with a smartphone. And as we speak, new waves of digitization are transforming sectors like the automobile industry, manufacturing, home appliances, and other devices we now refer to as “The Internet of Things.”

Digital technologies are quickly becoming the key driver of job creation, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the 21st century. Yet these extraordinary opportunities also present new challenges – for businesses, for governments, and for workers. Email leaks, data breaches and other cyber threats are on the rise. Automation is changing how people work and do business. And, across every sector, from entertainment to travel to trade, digital disruption is at times, for lack of a better word, disruptive.

In government, our challenge is not to resist this remarkable change but to embrace it, adapt to it, and prepare more Americans to succeed in the face of it. The Department of Commerce has answered this challenge with our digital economy agenda, with four key policy areas that include promoting a free and open Internet, strengthening security, expanding access to the Internet and to new skills, and advancing innovation.

In regards to promoting a free and open Internet, we have protected the free flow of data across borders by implementing agreements like the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which protects consumers and ensures businesses on both sides of the Atlantic continue to trade, collaborate, and innovate in the 21st century. We have secured and continue working to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which limits digital protectionism in the Asia-Pacific’s dynamic markets. And tomorrow (hopefully), we begin the process of completing the privatization of the DNS.

Contrary to rumors that President Obama is “giving away the Internet,” this transition will protect Internet freedom worldwide and entrust Internet governance to the people, businesses, and institutions around the world who own, operate, and depend on it around the world.

On the security front, the Cybersecurity Framework developed by industry stakeholders with NIST continues to be embraced as the primary tool for companies large and small to evaluate cyber risk. And earlier this year, President Obama tasked our Department with providing staff and support to the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. The Commission’s 12 private sector experts are charged with delivering a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy by December 1 on everything from protecting critical infrastructure to securing the federal government’s digital assets. 

With respect to skills training and Internet access, our broadband grants have helped install over 116,000 network miles connecting more than 26,000 schools, libraries, and hospitals nationwide. And on the workforce front, our “Skills for Business” initiative is giving employers more input into our national job training programs. For example, our National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education just issued the first-ever federal grant funding for public-private sector educational partnerships that will prepare more Americans for high-paying, high-demand jobs in cybersecurity.

And finally, we have a vast set of initiatives focused on advancing innovation and entrepreneurship. Our Digital Attachés are helping American technology companies connect with new customers and export their services abroad. We are working with stakeholders to solve technical challenges, like developing security best practices in fields like the Internet of Things. And we continue to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at home and abroad. As Chair of the President’s Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, Secretary Pritzker has connected entrepreneurs from around the globe with mentorship programs and other initiatives led by some of our nation’s most talented entrepreneurs, from Brian Chesky at Airbnb to Nina Vaca at Pinnacle Group.

From improving cybersecurity to enhancing workforce preparedness, you might have noticed a common thread throughout our efforts: a commitment to partnering with business leaders and private sector experts like you to promote America’s success in the digital economy.

We are proud of these efforts – yet we all know that Administrations change. The future of this agenda ultimately rests in our ability to inform and inspire the next Administration to make the digital economy a top priority.

That is where you – the Digital Economy Board of Advisors – comes in. You have been charged with delivering forward-looking, actionable recommendations for policies that will help keep the United States on the cutting edge of global, digital commerce in the 21st century.

I encourage all of you to think boldly and creatively about what we must do to support innovation, inclusivity, opportunity, and growth in the digital economy. Ask yourself questions, like:

  • How can the federal government, and specifically the Department of Commerce, help more technology companies compete globally?
  • How can we ensure small businesses have access to the latest digital tools and services? 
  • How do we prepare more Americans for the jobs of the future?

Secretary Pritzker often describes this Board as a gift to the next Secretary of Commerce. There is so much truth to that statement. The next Commerce Secretary will arrive to find your recommendations on his or her desk, and all of you – some of our brightest minds in business, technology, and economic policy – on speed dial.

This is a tight timeline and a tall order – but I know the people in this room are up to the task. Thank you for your service, and let’s all get to work.

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