Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today announced his Innovation and Competitiveness agenda for the 115th Congress. Below are Chairman Goodlatte’s prepared remarks.
Chairman Goodlatte: Good morning. I want to thank everyone for being here today. As you all know I had the privilege of announcing the House Judiciary Committee’s full agenda at an event earlier this year but I thought it was important to highlight the many issues within the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee that directly impact American innovation.
To that end, today I would like to unveil the House Judiciary Committee’s Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda for the 115th Congress. This agenda will serve as a blueprint for issues before the Committee that directly affect the technology industry.
I have always said that one of the primary goals of the House Judiciary Committee is to advance pro-growth policies to support our American economy, and the tech sector is certainly one of the major drivers of the U.S. economy.
The tech industry is one of America’s chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, creating millions of high-skilled, high-paying U.S. jobs and contributing billions to our economy. We must constantly be looking for ways to further encourage the growth of this vital sector while reducing any unnecessary burdens it faces.
The House Judiciary Committee’s Innovation and Competitiveness agenda is focused on making America more competitive and so we intend to build on the successes we had last year, which included seeing four major pieces of legislation signed into law — the Judicial Redress Act, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, and the USA Freedom Act.
First up on our Innovation and Competitiveness agenda is ECPA reform and I am pleased to report that we have already had a legislative victory here. Within the first few weeks of the new Congress, we passed out of Committee and subsequently out of the House, the Email Privacy Act which establishes for the first time in federal statute a uniform warrant requirement for stored communication content in criminal investigations, regardless of the type of service provider, the age of an email, or whether the email has been opened. This bill has now twice passed through the House without a single member voting against it in Committee or on the House floor. We will continue to work with our counterparts on the Senate side to get this one across the finish line and to the President’s desk for his signature.
In this same vein, the Committee will also explore solutions to govern law enforcement’s access to data stored overseas. As the use of technology has spread around the world, international conflicts of law concerning law enforcement’s access to stored data outside of its jurisdiction have presented many challenges. Both the United States and foreign governments face many barriers when requesting stored communications data when it is kept outside of their borders yet is for a criminal investigation within their country. I anticipate the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on this important issue next month.
We’ll also focus on reforms to discourage abusive patent litigation and keep U.S. patent laws up to date. Collectively, these reforms will help small businesses flourish, unleash innovation, and create new jobs for Americans.
The House Judiciary Committee will continue its review of our nation’s copyright laws to ensure America’s global leadership in creativity and innovation continues in the 21st century and beyond.
At the end of 2016, we issued our first bipartisan proposal to ensure the Copyright Office keeps pace in the digital age. Among the reforms contained in our first proposal are granting the copyright office autonomy and requiring it to maintain an up-to-date digital, searchable database of all copyrighted works. Just last week, the House passed by an overwhelming vote the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, to make important changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office. This is just the first legislative step in our copyright review. We are already turning our attention to a broader copyright modernization bill and we have ongoing discussions with stakeholders on the issue of music licensing.
The Judiciary Committee will also seek to reform section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Committee has a strong record of enacting solutions that protect both privacy and national security. With section 702 set to expire at the end of the year, Committee leaders will again work together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure Americans’ privacy is protected as the government lawfully surveils the online activities of foreigners seeking to harm us.
Moving on to high-skilled immigration reform and visa reform, the House Judiciary Committee will build on its past work and continue to find a balanced solution to increase the high-skilled talent pool to promote job growth through visa and green card reforms, while protecting job opportunities for similarly qualified Americans.
Finally, the House Judiciary Committee is committed to building upon the good work of our bipartisan encryption working group. We must ensure that we protect and preserve the benefits of strong encryption – including the protection of Americans’ privacy and information security – while also ensuring law enforcement has the tools needed to keep us safe and prevent crime.
The current Administration, while new, is one I have already had the pleasure of working with closely. As we all know, the President is committed to unleashing the potential in the American economy and the tech industry will undoubtedly play a large roll in that. According to a 2016 study, tech companies provided nearly 17 million jobs in the United States and contributed over 22% of output to the nation’s economy. I know that we can work together to build upon this strong foundation, find solutions to these issues, and further grow the American technology sector.
I would like to take a quick moment to thank my staff who has worked on this agenda and roll out, but in particular, I would like to recognize Burak Guvensoylar, who has been a driving force behind this effort and whose hard-work and input has been essential. Unfortunately, Burak is unable to join us today, but I know he is watching at home and I’d like to extend my gratitude.
I am happy to take questions, but first I’d like to hand the podium off to two leaders in the tech industry, Dean Garfield, President and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, and Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA The Software Alliance.