Jan 18, 2017

The tech angle from the Wilbur Ross confirmation hearing

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Why it matters: Commerce weighs in on everything from privacy to wireless spectrum. So while the Secretary of Commerce doesn't have the high-profile of, say, the FCC chair, it's still a key role to watch for tech and telecom companies.

  • Spectrum: "Well, for sure, the vast majority of the federally occupied spectrum that's unused now is in the hands of the Department of Defense," said businessman Wilbur Ross. "So [the] first objective has to be do no harm, we can't compromise national defense, homeland at all. But we also need to be rational and it can't be that there's hoarding." Quick take: That's probably good news for people who want more federal spectrum turned over to private companies.
  • The internet domain system: He acknowledged that the transition away from a U.S.-controlled domain name system is settled business for now. He was skeptical of the move, however, and said he'd be happy to look at alternatives if they ever come up.
  • Privacy: Asked about the framework governing data transfers between the US and EU, Ross said he recognized that "agreements that exist obviously exist" but said "there will be a tension between privacy on the one hand and the problems of localization of data and the implications that they have for the internet as we go forward."
  • Broadband deployment: "Broadband is to a very large degree a path to a future," Ross said, adding broadband was an important part of infrastructure policy. Quick take: This signals that broadband may be included in the major infrastructure plan Donald Trump is expected to roll out.
Go deeper