The age of connected devices needs pragmatic policy choices

NASA can send a 24 Mbps stream of data from the far side of Mars back to earth. So why is it so hard to get some decent mobile connectivity back on planet earth? That was one of the questions raised by Jim Kohlenberger at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco Wednesday.

Kohlenberger, who has previously advised the White House on tech policy issues and is now an advisor to the Washington D.C.-based Mobile Future coalition, used his appearance at the conference to plead for pragmatic policy choices for the new world of connectedness.

“Technology moves faster than the regulatory or legislative process can keep up,” he said, arguing that regulators have to step back and concentrate on the bigger issues, like the impending spectrum crunch, instead of trying to regulate every single issue at hand. The model for this could be how the White House under President Clinton dealt with the then-still-novel commercial internet, which Kohlenberger described as a Hippocratic, do-no-harm approach.

Of course, pleading for a hands-off approach towards mobile communication technologies may sound a bit like wishful thinking in a time where new stories about the NSA’s internet surveillance hit the press almost every week. But even with these revelations, there may be an upside for tech policy, argued Kohlenberger, saying that it may give us an opportunity to “finally have an adult conversation” about security needs and safeguards.

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page