Washington, DC — Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, delivered opening remarks at the Innovation, Data and Commerce subcommittee hearing titled “Building Blockchains: Exploring Web3 and Other Applications for Distributed Ledger Technologies.”
Excerpts and highlights below:
PROGRESS OF AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY LEADERSHIP
“This committee plays a vital role in advancing American competitiveness and global technology leadership with our values, as you said, Mr. Chairman, freedom, human rights and human dignity.
“Blockchains, web3 and other applications of distributed ledger technologies represent a new technological shift similar to the breakthrough of the internet.
“We need to make sure that America – not China or Europe – charts our path to being at the forefront of the implementation and standardization of these technologies.
“Our energy and trade mission is to foster and advance innovation and American technology leadership.
“We took the lead in passing the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which formed the basis for the evolution of the Internet.
“The innovation and entrepreneurship that followed represented some of the greatest achievements in American history and the world.
“We must ensure that we can lead the next era of American innovation and entrepreneurship with a regulatory environment that keeps pace with the constantly evolving technology sector.
“That’s especially true for blockchains.”
E&C STAYS AT THE LEAD OF BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGIES
“For this reason, in 2016, the Energy and Commerce Committee held one of the first congressional hearings on blockchains.
“In the years since, technology has evolved as entrepreneurs have found new and exciting applications.
“In addition, my legislation, the US COMPETE Act, was signed into law at the end of 2020, requiring the Department of Commerce to explore how the US can promote various emerging technologies.
“Part of the legislation in the package, led by Representatives Guthrie and Soto, requires a study on blockchains and ways the federal government can advance US leadership and adoption.
“We continue to await this forthcoming report from the Biden administration to make pro-innovation recommendations to the committee.
“Unfortunately, the report is now well past the legal deadline, as well as the requested extension that we have granted.”
LOSING GROUND TO OUR OPPONENTS
“As with any new technology, we must act quickly.
“While the US has been at the forefront of creating the internet, we could easily fall behind with web3, the next generation internet.
“According to public data, less than 40 percent of blockchain companies are headquartered in the US, and that number continues to fall.
“As we saw with Huawei and 5G, if we don’t lead, our opponents will fill the void.”
STRENGTHENING PRIVACY PROTECTION
“It is critical that America leads the way, especially given the implications of these new technologies.
“Big Tech has developed tools that interact to track Americans both online and offline.
“Technologies such as distributed ledgers can be aligned with the goals of comprehensive data privacy laws, by enabling people to reclaim control of their personal data online, and by limiting a company’s ability to protect the information we share online. check and collect.”
SMALL BUSINESS PROTECTION
“As these technologies are deployed and the US develops standards to regulate them, we also have a responsibility to ensure that entrepreneurs and small businesses can continue to thrive. We have often celebrated that they are the engine of our economy.
“While larger companies can navigate complex regulations, such as GDPR in Europe or a patchwork of state laws, smaller companies cannot afford the high compliance costs.
“Embracing innovation, entrepreneurship and free markets is what has made America a global technology leader, not overly prescriptive regulation.
“While securities and commodities are just one of the many use cases of blockchain technologies, there is a reason why the Gramm Leach Bliley Act does not, and should not, regulate the use of Americans’ personal information outside of the financial industry .
“Congress needs to have a conversation about what blockchains are and aren’t, to ensure that the heavy hand of government regulation doesn’t force blockchain startups to reevaluate whether America is the best location to start their business.
“When this committee was working on the Telecom Act, we could never have predicted the power of the internet.
“Now, as then, we don’t know how powerful blockchain technologies will be, but we do know that America needs to lead the way.
“I look forward to an informative talk today.”