Congress is debating legislation that could grant the federal government new powers to mandate the features and design of every phone, computer, GPS or any other device with a screen that connects to the Internet.
The bill – which has been dubbed the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 – will soon face a key vote before the Energy & Commerce Committee and the House of Representatives.
However, a spokesperson for a think-tank known as the Innovation Movement told TG Daily that H.R. 3101, as currently written, would require manufacturers and ISPs to make all of their products and services accessible to individuals with “every single type” of disability.
“While the bill’s intentions are certainly noble, the technology industry has already made great strides in designing products and services to meet the needs of the disabled, and this continues to be an important area for innovation,” explained the spokesperson.
“The problem with the legislation is that it would give government the power to mandate universal design standards for new and emerging Internet-connecting devices. It would also imbue the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with new powers to take products off the market.”
He warned that the results would have “far-reaching impact” beyond the scope of the bill, including:
- More costly products and services.
- A smaller marketplace with fewer options for consumers.
- Higher compliance and legal fees for entrepreneurs – small businesses and large companies alike.
- Tougher competition for U.S. technologies in the global marketplace.
- A slower, less agile innovation economy in the United States.