Hillary Clinton's tech agenda draws cheers from IT industry

Presumptive Democratic nominee calls for investments in STEM education, cybersecurity and job training, pledging to make an open Internet a cornerstone of her administration's diplomacy.

Group of millennials cheering in office
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Leading tech groups hailed the release of Hillary Clinton's agenda for promoting technology and innovation, praising the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's focus on issues like cybersecurity and her acknowledgement that the industry is vital to the nation's economic prosperity.

[ Related: Obama, Zuckerberg push better broadband, innovative startups ]

Clinton's "initiative on technology and innovation" comes as the most detailed elucidation of a technology platform from a major presidential candidate this election season, a multi-pronged plan that touches on issues like promoting science and technical education, building out broadband infrastructure and defending net neutrality.

In a fact sheet explaining her plan, Clinton says that her "priority is to harness the power of technology and innovation so that it works for all Americans, creating good-paying jobs throughout the country."

"Doing this right will not only boost economic growth, it will lead to immeasurable social benefits," the campaign says, looking ahead to home monitoring systems to help with senior care, next-gen education technology and Internet-enabled traffic and safety applications for smarter transportation networks.

"[W]ith the right public policies," the campaign says, "we can ensure that technology is a force for broad-based growth, reducing social and economic inequality, and securing American leadership on the global stage."

That type of language drew plaudits from some of the trade groups that have been lobbying for more tech-friendly policies in Washington.

In a statement, Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Technology Association, says that "it's encouraging that Secretary Clinton is taking the initiative as the first major presidential candidate in this election cycle to put technology and innovation issues front-and-center in the national policy debate."

[ Related: Obama wants more cybersecurity funding and a federal CISO ]

Donald Trump, presumed to be the Republican nominee, has had little to say about the issues Clinton highlighted in her technology agenda. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tech sector encouraged by Clinton’s focus on STEM education, digital security

Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, hailed Clinton's focus on STEM, worker training and cybersecurity, along with her support of an open Internet and enhanced Internet connectivity, saying that he is "encouraged" by Clinton's "focus on some of the most important tech issues of our time."

"As the election moves into the general election phase, we look forward to increased conversations on technology from both candidates," Thibodeaux says.

[ Related: Clinton’s tech plan defers student loans for risk takers ]

Dean Garfield of the Information Technology Industry Council was more subdued in his reaction, praising Clinton for supporting many of the items that his group and other tech organizations laid out in their own policy agenda (PDF available here) in May. However, he urged Clinton to commit to a more business-friendly tax plan, and to get behind international trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. CTA also urged Clinton to endorse the TPP, which she says she opposes, modifying her earlier position.

But there was plenty in her plan to buoy members of the tech sector, including a plan to make computer science education universally available, the expansion of tech-focused job training programs and investments in research and development.

[ Related: Obama expands STEM education and training efforts ]

Clinton's campaign is also touting plans to incorporate retention policies for skilled foreign workers into a broader immigration package, long a priority for tech firms that have complained about students who receive STEM degrees from U.S. colleges only to return to their home country to work.

"As part of a comprehensive immigration solution, Hillary would 'staple' a green card to STEM masters and PhDs from accredited institutions -- enabling international students who complete degrees in these fields to move to green card status," her campaign says.

[ Related: Clinton wants to ‘staple’ green cards on STEM grads' diplomas ]

In cybersecurity, she mentions the importance of coordination between the public and private sectors, and calls for more funding for the development of security technologies and a federal CISO who can steer security operations as the government continues its IT modernization efforts.

Clinton also addressed the friction that often accompanies the uneasy balance between national security and privacy and other civil liberties, calling for a "national commission on digital security, so that the technology and public safety communities can work together on solutions that address law enforcement needs while preserving individual privacy and security."

Many of the policies laid out in her technology agenda read like Clinton would pick up where the Obama administration leaves off, such as the commitment to deliver high-speed broadband access to 100 percent of the nation's households by 2020, expand the use of spectrum for wireless networks, and to campaign for an open, unfettered Internet overseas, an issue Clinton highlighted when she was heading the State Department.

As secretary, Clinton "embraced the power of technology as an asset of American leadership and an instrument of American ideals in the world," her campaign says.

"She will continue this work as president -- fighting for Internet Freedom and insisting on the responsibility of all nations to respect free speech and human rights online, as well as the open flow of data across borders and access to digital markets," it adds. "She will oppose efforts to block or degrade internet access or to shut down social media, and she will stand with likeminded countries against efforts by countries like China or Russia to create a balkanized Internet run by governments."

This story, "Hillary Clinton's tech agenda draws cheers from IT industry" was originally published by CIO.

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