Rep. Tauzin Rules Capitol Hill's High-Tech Roost

As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-La., will be the leading player in shaping technology debates and legislation in the 107th Congress, according to a recent report by Forrester Research Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.

As global e-commerce grows to $6.8 trillion in 2004, issues such as online privacy, digital copyrights, Internet sales tax and broadband access will become more pressing, Forrester analyst John McCarthy said in his report, "Ranking Tech Policy Players in the 107th Congress."

With this growth, McCarthy said, comes the emergence of a new breed of legislator, the technology policy player.

Forrester identified 36 legislators ? 20 Republicans and 16 Democrats ? who will assume technology policy leadership roles in Congress. The rankings are based on four criteria:

*Representation of a technology-oriented district or state, such as California or Virginia;

*Power as members of relevant congressional committees or House and Senate leadership;

*Tech policy experience on Capitol Hill or in the private sector;

*Special interest in a pressing technology issue, such as online consumer privacy rights.

Other top-ranked policy leaders named by Forrester include Sens. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, and Conrad Burns, D-Mont.; and Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, Christopher Cox, R-Calif., and. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Moderates such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., for example, are well-suited to take ownership of technology issues, McCarthy said, because neither party is dominant in the tech area. Furthermore, debates surrounding issues such as privacy and intellectual policy have brought about alliances that transcend party and ideology.

Forrester predicts tech heavyweights Tauzin and Markey, who is ranking member of the House Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, will create an alliance to champion increased high-speed Internet access.

The Forrester report also predicts continuing, strong bipartisan support for privacy initiatives and some congressional resistance to strict copyright protections of digital content.

Champions of electronic government did not rank high on Forrester's list, leading the firm to suggest that an eager junior legislator could ally with a senior colleague on a funding committee to help secure funding for expensive transitions to online delivery and administration of government services.

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