How Tech Would Have Changed Under a President Romney
CREDIT: Mitt Romney Facebook page
Though trounced in electoral votes, Mitt Romney came close to Obama in the popular vote. If a few "battleground states" had gone a bit differently, what effects from Romney's policies could the technology world have expected?
In a survey of technology leaders by DLA Piper in September and October, 64 percent believed a Romney presidency would be positive for the technology industry, with lower taxes and less regulation.
Some of Romney's policies would have hade a direct effect on technology. Based on his campaign, we would expect action in the following areas:
1) Net neutrality
Network neutrality is, at its core, the idea of an "open Internet," with no restrictions based on the type of content. Under current rules, all types of content — whether video, music or text —from all providers big and small are treated the same, and delivered at the same speed. However, some telecommunications companies, including Verizon and MetroPCS, would like to implement a tiered approach in which they can charge content providers for faster delivery of data. Critics fear that the higher fees would make it harder for small websites to get their message out, turning the Net into an arena dominated by big media companies (including the network providers themselves. Cable and Internet provider Comcast is a majority owner of NBC, for example.)
Romney stands against government interference with the Internet, including how networks allocate bandwidth to content providers. In general, the Republican national platform pushes for removing "regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of voice video data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem." Romney's Federal Communication Commission would likely have overturned Obama administration decisions that supported net neutrality.
While Romney provided few specifics about his cybersecurity strategy, his issue statements on his campaign site suggested he favors a coordinated effort by the Department of Defense, the intelligence agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury. Cybersecurity is one of the few issues in which Republicans and Democrats generally agree, so odds are that Romney's administration would have adopted existing strategies.
3) Digital divide
The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported in April 2012 that while the gap between those who use the Internet and those who don't — the digital divide — has narrowed, differences still exist, especially in terms of who has landline broadband access. The Republican Party platform supports the FCC's current efforts to bring broadband out to rural areas, where just 50 percent have broadband access compare to 68 percent in non-rural areas, but also calls for public-private partnerships to make that happen.
4) Health care IT
Romney had said he would move to repeal "Obamacare" as soon as he took office. President Barack Obama's health plan, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), includes provisions that require upgrades to health care IT; many health systems already have begun the process of converting to electronic medical records. Upgrades would likely have continued, since most in the health care industry see them as beneficial. However, whether the health systems adopted other aspects of the ACA, such as the ability to use video chats in place of office visits, would be harder to predict.
5) Research and development: Romney stated during the campaign that he supports federal funding of scientific research. However, he openly criticized Obama's green energy initiatives, so less federal money would likely have gone in that direction. In keeping with his emphasis on less government, Romney said he wanted to see the private sector more involved in ushering discoveries toward the marketplace. In a letter to the influential New York Tech Meetup group, Romney explained that under his administration, the government would focus on research that can serve as the "foundation for private-sector implementation."
Overall, Americans would have seen less government involvement in technology under Romney's administration, with more emphasis and power given to the private sector.