Industries–and mere concepts like “technology”–do not need czars in Washington. Such enterprise needs to operate apart from this city. Indeed, even supposedly “deregulatory” Republicans were not reluctant to regulate the Internet. Bush favored federal privacy regulation, but never pushed it. His adminstration was also happy to target porn and “spam.” Legislation favored by the Republicans ran the gamut from gambling to cable regulation to media ownership. Right now, many firms in Washington are poised to push for federal privacy legislation to, as they say, pre-empt the states and get rid of the “patchwork” of privacy legislation with which they must deal. But the risk is merely trading 50 regulators for 51.
We already have plenty of regulators in Washington. Instead of appointing yet another messiah-like figure to solve our nation’s technological woes, the best thing for the technology industry would be a massive downsizing of the federal government’s role in regulating telecom companies, dictating privacy policies, and deciding what broadcasters can air.