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Looking at 2016

Presidential election years are traditionally seen as times when Congress gets minimal serious work done. At Consumer Technology Association (CTA), we refuse to accept this paradigm— after all, who feels justified in taking one out of every four years off?

Instead, we will be calling on Congress to address serious issues that impact American jobs and innovation.

First, Congress must finish the job of cracking down on legal extortion by patent abusers. The problem is getting worse and so-called “patent trolls” operate with impunity, deluging entrepreneurs with bogus and costly legal claims. Both the House and the Senate committees have passed common sense patent reform bills. Now, Congress must bring these bills to the floor and send them to the White House. It’s time to return the patent system to its original function: an inventive for innovation, rather than a platform for cheap extortion schemes.

Next, Congress must fix immigration laws to make America once again the magnet for the world’s best, brightest and most entrepreneurial. Every day we tell the globe’s best scientists and engineers to “keep out,” the United States loses and our economic competitors gain.

Similarly, we will push government to free up additional wireless spectrum: the “oxygen for innovation.” We will focus on ensuring that the planned auction of excess broadcast spectrum goes forward as planned, while incentivizing government agencies to relinquish underused airwaves.

We will defend nascent technologies like drones, driverless cars and the Internet of Things. All of these innovations offer massive potential benefits to our economy and society and they all can be prematurely smothered by clumsy and unnecessary regulation.

We will continue to fight for the rights of new “sharing economy” companies to bring their products and services to consumers. Consumer Technology Association members like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Travelocity, TripAdvisor and Yelp create jobs, provide information and improve our communities and should not be stopped by powerful incumbent industries and their regulatory allies.

Finally an election year provides an excellent opportunity to educate policy makers about innovation, and ensure our industry is a key part of campaign discussions. Using a number of tools—from the national party conventions to the Consumer Technology Association Innovation House—we will be explaining how our industry drives jobs and growth, and how prioritizing innovation is the key to our economic future.

We thank you for your continued help and support, and look forward to a successful 2016!

Michael Petricone