San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo tells Feds to ‘Get Out of the Way’ of Innovation

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A Q&A with San Jose (CA) Mayor Sam Liccardo.

The federal government has a role to play in addressing the digital divide and allowing the tech industry to flourish, but so far its policies have only gotten in the way, he said.  “Bluntly, [closing the digital divide] hasn’t been a priority for the federal government, at least under this administration. Recent [Federal Communications Commission] rulings are really cutting the knees out of local governments, local communities and their ability to negotiate deals that ensures that technology is broadly distributed. Right now, the FCC’s taken the position that we should somehow or another treat the telecom companies as if they’re public utilities. That would be fine if they also had the responsibilities of public utilities to serve everyone. They’re not doing that today, and unless they’re prodded by the government they’re not going to.”

Asked what his ideal federal policy for closing the digital divide would be, he answered, “Good policy could take one of two forms. If you want to treat telecom companies as public utilities … mandate they serve everyone in all parts of a community. Secondly, if you decide they’re not going to be public utilities then simply allow cities ... to negotiate at the table so the city can ensure their residents are well-served. Either way, we will get to better digital equity, but the worst of both worlds is what we have right now.”

See the interview

Silicon Valley Mayor to Feds: ‘Get Out of the Way’ of Innovation