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techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

A Plan For Utah’s Tech Sector#### by Senator Orrin G. Hatch.This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 edition of SiliconSlopes Magazine.Utah is the best state in the Union. I’m sure every Senator says that abouttheir home state, but in my case this statement has the virtue of beingundeniably true.I say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, of course. There are a lot of greatthings about other states. But I do believe emphatically that Utah is the beststate in the country in which to work and raise a family. That’s why I movedhere many years ago, and it’s what I tell people in other states when they saythey’re thinking about moving someplace new.What makes Utah so great, in my view, is that we have a low cost of livingcoupled with strong communities and a dynamic job market. The unparallelednatural beauty is a nice perk, too.The success of our job market owes to a number of factors. We graduate largenumbers of enterprising young people each year from our numerous outstandinguniversities. We have a business-friendly state government that keeps taxeslow and regulations light. And we have an industrious, can-do spirit thatencourages entrepreneurship and rewards innovation.Indeed, Utah’s successes in recent decades in the fields of innovation andtechnology have been nothing short of remarkable. Utah is now home to morethan 5,000 tech companies. Venture capital invested in Utah last year exceeded$1 billion. Our state is home to household names like Qualtrics, Domo, andAncestry.com. Other tech giants such as Adobe and eBay have major presenceshere.If we want Utah’s tech community to continue to enjoy the successes we’ve seenin recent years, it’s essential that we do all we can to foster a business andinnovation-friendly environment.I’m fortunate to be in a position where I have frequent opportunities toadvance policies that benefit Utah’s tech industry. For the past eight years,I’ve served as the Chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force.This role has brought me into contact with a number of tech leaders — both inand out of Utah — who have driven home to me the importance of protecting newinnovations, safeguarding consumer privacy, and ensuring that companies havethe people and capital they need to thrive.Senator Orrin HatchEarlier this year, I announced an Innovation Agenda for the new Congress thatI intend to pursue through my role with the Senate Republican High-Tech TaskForce. I’d like to highlight here a few key priorities from the agenda thathave particular relevance to Utah.First is education and workforce training. To succeed in our increasinglycompetitive global economy, tech companies here in Utah need top-flight talentwith training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — the so-called STEM disciplines.Unfortunately, although our universities here in the state are top-notch andproduce many hard-working, industrious graduates each year, we simply don’tgraduate enough students with STEM degrees to meet demand. A recent nationwidestudy, in fact, found that there are twelve job openings requiring abackground in STEM for every one unemployed STEM worker.We need to do a better job equipping our young people with the toolsbusinesses need to grow and thrive. We also need to provide opportunities forworkers already in the workplace to receive training in STEM fields so theycan keep their skillsets relevant to employers’ needs.Closely tied to improving STEM education and workforce training is ensuringour system of high-skilled immigration meets the needs of Utah’s techemployers. Almost without exception, every tech leader I talk with tells methey prefer to hire American talent. But they also acknowledge that’s notalways possible.Many tech positions require specialized training — hence the need for moreSTEM graduates — and sometimes it can be difficult to find an American jobapplicant with the requisite skills. In such cases, Utah tech companies maylook to foreign workers trained at American universities, or, failing that,workers trained outside the United States, to meet demand.Our current system of high-skilled immigration, however, doesn’t allowcompanies to bring in the number of workers they need, and even moreproblematically, it doesn’t provide a reasonable way for companies tointegrate these workers into American society. We should be eager to bring thebest PhDs and university graduates to our country — particularly ones educatedat American universities — and enable them to stay and become productivemembers of our economy, but unfortunately our current laws make that processextremely cumbersome.I’m preparing to reintroduce legislation called the Immigration InnovationAct, or “I-Squared,” to make our system of high-skilled immigration much morerational. My bill would also support programs — funded by application fees,not taxpayers dollars — to improve STEM education and workforce training. Ibelieve that with a little hard work and help from the tech community, we cansee my proposal enacted into law.I’ll briefly mention two other priorities that I believe are particularlyrelevant to Utah’s tech community.First is consumer privacy. Increasingly strong encryption technology hasenabled consumers to better protect their communications and personal data.Some in the law enforcement community, however, have raised concerns thatencryption may also enable criminals and other bad actors to shield theirconduct from government watchdogs and make investigations into their actionsmore difficult.Although there is undoubted validity to these concerns, proposals that wouldrequire companies to weaken their encryption technology so that lawenforcement can more easily gain access are not the answer. Rather, thesolution is for tech companies and law enforcement to work together to findways to share information in appropriate circumstances and for officials tobeef up their other investigatory tools.We also need to be cautious about the standards we set for enabling lawenforcement to access consumers’ electronic data. I believe it is appropriateto require law enforcement to obtain a warrant from a neutral magistratebefore accessing electronic data, just like we require for books, papers, andother physical materials. This warrant requirement should apply to all cases,no matter how old the data is and no matter where it is located, unlessexigent circumstances necessitate immediate access.I’ve introduced legislation called the International Communications PrivacyAct, or “ICPA,” that would do just that. My bill would require a warrant forall private electronic data, regardless of whether that data is stored in theUnited States or overseas. Many Utah tech companies work with sensitivepersonal data; many others store sensitive data for their customers oremployees. My International Communications Privacy Act will provide greaterprotections, and greater peace of mind, for all of these companies.The last priority I’d like to highlight is patent reform. Tech companies inUtah rely on patents to protect their discoveries and innovations.Unfortunately, entities called “patent trolls” — typically, shell corporationsthat don’t actually make anything but exist merely as litigation vehicles —abuse the system by bringing frivolous patent claims against actual innovatorsand extorting settlements.One particularly egregious facet of this abuse involves the way patent trollsmanipulate claims to bring cases in plaintiff-friendly forums, where they knowthey can shake down even more money from tech companies. We need to put an endto such rampant abuse. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has before it right nowa case that will give it the opportunity to do so. If the Supreme Court letsthe opportunity pass, I will be introducing a bill to correct the problemlegislatively.These are just a few of my priorities this Congress that have particularrelevance to Utah’s tech community. I’ve worked hard to build bridges with theTrump administration and have good relationships with President Trump and hisstaff. These relationships have already borne fruit here in Utah with thePresident’s executive order laying the groundwork to reduce the size offederal land grabs in southern portions of our state.I can serve as a bridge between the tech community and the Trumpadministration. I have deep ties in the tech world and a strong ally in theWhite House. I intend to work with both sides of the equation to promotepolicies that will enable our great state — the greatest in the Union — toremain at the forefront of innovation and technological growth.subscribe

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