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USIIA Predicts Broadband, Security to Dominate 2002

The U.S. Internet Industry Association (USIIA) -- The U.S.'s primary trade association for Internet commerce, content and connectivity -- this week said 2001 was a bust for progress in Internet policymaking and cast its gaze ahead to 2002.

"2001 proved to be one of the least productive policy years in the history of the commercial Internet," said Dave McClure, president of the USIIA. "While the groundwork was laid for some deregulation, the single piece of legislation passed was a simple extension to the existing tax moratorium. We expect 2002 to be a more productive year.

The USIIA attributed the lack of progress in 2001 to four factors:

  • The changes in the White House administration
  • The perceived failure of the 1996 Telecom Act
  • The shift in the Senate majority
  • The events of Sept. 11.

McClure said he expects movement in 2002, but also said that the initiative is not likely to come from the White House.

"This will be the year that we will finally see some Federal action on privacy and spam, and are likely to see the emergence of a national broadband policy as well," he said. "But these initiatives will not be directly addressed by the White House. Instead, we expect to see most of the action in such executive agencies as the DOJ, the FCC and the FTC. And Congress is likely to be very active as well."

In 2002, the USIIA expects to see federal regulators and lawmakers focus on broadband deployment and infrastructure security -- including legislation pushing tax credits, grants and other incentives for broadband deployment in rural and depressed urban areas, as well as incentives for research and development. The group, noting that 2002 is also an election year, also expects what it calls "fluffy" legislation on social issues, like attempts to ban online gambling and rein-in pornography on the Net. However, the association expects to see little movement on tougher issues like intellectual property and privacy.