Promoting Trust and Innovation in the Digital Economy

As business leaders representing every sector of the economy, we know that technology fosters economic growth and opportunity. Data and digital platforms are essential to competitiveness in today’s marketplace. We are committed to advancing policies that safeguard U.S. information and technology assets and protect consumer data while promoting innovation and growth in the digital economy.

The CEOs of the Business Roundtable urge the incoming Administration and Congress to take up and advance the following policies and urgent strategic priorities over the course of 2021.

Review the full policy recommendations or explore by issue:

Federal leadership is needed to establish a consistent, nationwide approach to virus monitoring and to ensure that any use of technology to trace and track the spread of the virus is effective, accurate, and deployed in a manner that protects individual privacy. 

Business Roundtable calls on Congress to put in place uniform privacy and security safeguards for COVID-19 data. Business Roundtable has developed a set of privacy recommendations.

Business Roundtable urges the federal government to take five actions to bridge the digital divide so that all Americans can stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. America’s leading employers are calling on lawmakers to enact the following:

  1. Establishing an emergency connectivity benefit to support broadband for low-income households as a transition to comprehensive Lifeline reform;
  2. Clarifying and expanding the E-Rate program to support student and teacher connectivity needs;
  3. Funding the purchase of connected devices for e-learning;
  4. Accelerating broadband buildout in unserved areas; and
  5. Supporting access to online healthcare services.

Read the full policy recommendations.

CEO Perspectives

“COVID-19 has presented America’s broadband networks with numerous challenges. The pandemic has exposed and widened gaps in online access to schools, workplaces and health care, just to name a few. That’s why we are urging Congress to provide funding to keep low-income households, students, teachers, and doctors connected during the pandemic.”

Julie Sweet

CEO, Accenture

Chair of the Business Roundtable Technology Committee

“In both urban and rural communities, the lack of high-speed internet has long been a pain point and COVID-19 has only worsened it. As part of efforts to provide economic relief from the pandemic, Congress should fund the acceleration of broadband infrastructure in these areas, an investment that will have long-term returns in the form of increased productivity, health outcomes and economic opportunities to low-income and underserved Americans.”

Brendan Bechtel

Chairman & CEO, Bechtel Group, Inc.

Chair of the Business Roundtable Infrastructure Committee

“At a time when working, parenting, teaching and seeing our doctors rely on broadband connectivity, we must come together to address the continuing crisis that COVID-19 has only brought into sharp relief. The digital divide adversely affects all Americans, many of them in the rural communities where our farmer member owners and their families live and work. We’ve long advocated for a 1930’s rural electrification-type approach to bring long-term equity to under-invested communities, solidifying rural vibrancy and job creation. We appreciate the BRT’s focus, like ours, on addressing significant funding to support investment in infrastructure, improve coverage mapping and ensure coordinated implementation at the state and federal levels.”

Beth Ford

President & CEO, Land O’Lakes, Inc.

"During the pandemic, broadband has enabled students to continue learning, businesses to continue serving their customers and health care providers to see their patients via online appointments. But too many Americans still are not connected either because they live in rural areas that lack broadband, they struggle to afford broadband service or they lack the necessary digital literacy skills. The last few months have highlighted the importance of the public and private sector working together to prioritize getting more people connected. Bridging the digital divide is essential to the nation's future prosperity because it will ensure all Americans have the tools they need to thrive in the digital economy."

Hans Vestberg, 

Chairman & CEO, Verizon Communications

"The digital divide has a disproportionate impact across racial, geographic, and economic lines and the pandemic has only exacerbated that. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle have long acknowledged this gap, but Congress needs to take bold and meaningful steps now to make broadband accessible, affordable, and sustainable. With the right mix of government policy and spending and private sector investment, we can expand connectivity to historically unserved and underserved communities."

John Stankey 

CEO, AT&T Inc.

“Lack of affordable high speed internet access is not just a rural challenge – it’s a very real urban problem, as well. Broadband internet is a necessity for education, health, and economic development, and unless we address this issue promptly, the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” will only continue to grow.”

Craig Arnold 

Chairman & CEO, Eaton

Enact a National Consumer Privacy Law.

Today, American consumers do not feel in control of their personal data and how it is collected, used, shared – and protected. At the same time, U.S. privacy laws are highly fragmented across industries and jurisdictions, creating a patchwork of regulations, which hurts both consumers and companies.

That is why Business Roundtable members are calling on U.S. policymakers to adopt a national privacy law. The CEOs of America’s leading companies believe that such a law must strengthen protections for consumers and foster U.S. competitiveness and innovation while also addressing fragmentation and achieving some degree of interoperability with international privacy frameworks.

Working with companies from virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, Business Roundtable has developed a framework for legislation that establishes individual data privacy rights and provides clear obligations for how companies handle personal data by establishing a national standard for privacy.

Enhance the Nation’s Cybersecurity Posture.

American businesses face an unprecedented level of attacks in cyberspace that continue to grow in severity, number, and sophistication each year. As cyber threats have continued to escalate, the value of the digital products and services that criminals are targeting has also grown. Digital technologies are essential to American life and commerce. The nation’s economic security depends on the ability of U.S. companies to effectively defend their networks, safeguard their data, and provide secure and resilient services. Business Roundtable recognizes that effective cybersecurity protection requires a strong partnership between the public and private sectors who together must prioritize cybersecurity policies and initiatives that enable better defense against cyber threats. 

Cybersecurity Goals

Business Roundtable supports policies that:

  1. Enhance cyber threat information sharing between the public and private sector.
  2. Promote the continued development of voluntary, industry-led, risk-based cybersecurity standards.
  3. Combat fraud by building a trusted and resilient digital identity ecosystem.

Align Digital Policies Domestically and Abroad.

Business Roundtable companies must navigate a growing array of cybersecurity and privacy laws and regulations at the state, federal, and global level. These requirements create a complicated patchwork of requirements across the U.S. and globe, creating compliance burdens that hinder innovation without offering measurable gains in security or consumer privacy.

Business Roundtable supports policies that promote the alignment and harmonization of cybersecurity and privacy regulations and frameworks.

Protect Cross-Border Data Flows

Businesses in every country and sector depend upon data flows to operate, deliver products and services, grow, innovate, and prosper. Data flows drive foreign investment, create jobs, and open new doors for companies in all sectors and nations. Unfortunately, many foreign governments are erecting barriers to modern business activities and international trade by passing laws and regulations that restrict data storage, content, access, and use. As this trend continues, these measures are having unintended consequences by decreasing foreign business investments, impeding business and consumer access to innovative products and services, and hindering economic growth.

Business Roundtable seeks to minimize barriers to international trade, including restrictions on cross-border data flows, and encourages the U.S. Government to advance this priority in ongoing trade negotiations in other international jurisdictions.

Promote Globally Competitive Policy Frameworks for Technology.

While the United States has always been a world leader in technology, public policies have not kept pace with the rapidly evolving marketplace. Costly and outdated regulatory policies often stand in the way of maximizing the benefits of data and technology and threaten the ability of American companies to grow and proposer over the next decade and beyond.

Business Roundtable supports competitive policy frameworks that foster innovation and accelerate the societal and economic benefits of technology.

Encourage Federal IT Modernization

There are certain actions that only the federal government can take to be a partner to industry in national cyber defense. By modernizing its own IT infrastructure, the federal government ensures that it can carry out important missions that protect our nation’s private sector networks from major cyber-attacks and deliver essential citizen services.

Business Roundtable supports policies that incentivize the federal government to improve federal cyber resiliency through modernization and investment in emerging technologies that raise the level of security in both the public and private sectors.