Why the BIA has launched a Technology Committee
Innovative businesses need another voice as data economy booms
The global data economy and digital ecosystem is vast, exponentially growing and facing potential new government regulations that could hinder its growth.
Data flows through nearly every aspect of life, from work computers to smartphones to a growing number of smart devices — Alexas, TVs, watches, appliances, even lamps. More and more cars are connected to navigation and information systems. All share and receive data; most include some degree of commerce.
From the largest tech companies to smallest brick-and-mortar shops the internet is a cornerstone of business. With the convenience of working, banking, shopping and staying in touch comes the reality that we put a tremendous amount of faith in the digital ecosystem to keep working and keep our data safe.
These all are reasons why the Business and Industry Association has launched its new Technology Committee. BIA members joining the committee represent a broad range of industries, showing how much technology stretches throughout our economy. The committee will work to create a higher level of understanding of how the digital economy works and assure any government action allows innovative businesses and leaders to continue to lead the way.
Concerns about privacy, cybersecurity and faster and expanded high-speed internet are growing as the digital ecosystem expands. According to Opendatasoft, from 2011 to 2020 the volume of data in the world rose by more than 3,000 percent to 59 zettabytes, enough data to fill the hard drives of nearly 30 billion new laptops. Statista projects global data creation will exceed 180 zettabytes by 2025.
One top technology issue is increasing the speed of the internet and its reach across New Hampshire. The state and federal governments continue to support and contribute funds for 5G expansion, the new wireless standard designed to connect virtually everyone and everything to the digital ecosystem.
Expanding 5G in New Hampshire’s cities, suburbs and rural areas is a priority for boosting tele-health, internet for students and work-from-home opportunities, in addition to everyday conveniences. Yet, 5G faces possible state regulations that would restrict its availability.
A bill expected in the 2022 session of the New Hampshire Legislature would restrict the placement of wireless equipment. As reported by Communications Daily, the bill will seek 1,600-foot wireless equipment setbacks and periodic measurements of wireless emissions. The New Hampshire Commission to Study the Environmental and Health Effects of Evolving 5G Technology published its report last November, alleging the Federal Communications Commission may be ignoring wireless radio frequency dangers due to industry influence. However, radio frequencies and wireless devices haven’t been shown to cause adverse health effects. 5G is critical to expanding access to high-speed internet, which the proposed setbacks would slow and limit.
Another top issue is legislative attempts to restrict the use of location data services. Last session’s House Bill 384 would have required active consent from a consumer anytime a computer application shared their location data with a third party. BIA opposed the bill because it was overly burdensome, requiring constant consent approvals. The bill failed to pass the Legislature, but it’s likely a similar attempt will be made again.
Cybersecurity and data breaches perhaps are the biggest concerns in the data economy. Just late last month, cyber criminals stole $2.3 million from the town of Peterborough by collecting three scheduled payment transfers and converting them to cryptocurrency. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating the theft.
Data is an asset for businesses holding it and the consumers to which it belongs. Having robust safeguards is paramount to protect against theft. New Hampshire could have up to $10 million over four years to help increase state and local cybersecurity initiatives if the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package becomes law. BIA and its members can help direct this money to the right places through the new Technology Committee’s work.
The digital ecosystem and data economy together can reshape our lives and expand prosperity from large cities to small towns. But any government regulations must be practical, informed by businesses and not so burdensome they drive up costs and slow commerce, which is why the Technology Committee will be a pivotal part of BIA’s advocacy work in the future.
Rick Fabrizio is director of communications and public policy for the Business and Industry Association.