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Starks: Tech Advancing People’s Lives, But Caution Still Needed

LAS VEGAS—Speaking in front of the Consumer Technology Association’s Government Affairs Council, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks took the time to recognize many of the biggest tech advancements being made today, but rather than just marvel at them, take a critical look at where they are coming from and how we may need to protect ourselves against them.

Giving his speech on Jan. 6 before the official start of the CES 2020 conference, Starks laid out what his primary goals will be for 2020: “... ensuring that our communications networks and technologies support security, privacy and our democratic values.”

Starks brought up many different forms of technologies that on the surface prove beneficial to our everyday lives—entities accessing our data for more personalization; algorithms that can help classify and research topics based on data and past trends; and face recognition technology for increasing security. But he also offered instances where all of these technologies can prove dangerous or misleading.

“We must undertake, right now and continuously, the thorough examination of all these new capabilities to decide now how we will ensure that they are all poised to serve a future that creates opportunities instead of reinforcing existing inequalities,” he said.

He also brought up the potential danger he sees in China. He notes that he has been working to remove equipment provided by Huawei and ZTE from communications networks because he says there have been instances when such equipment transferred secure data to the Chinese government. He also says that technology developed in China is often not taking into consideration the civil liberties that are required for non-authoritarian regimes.

Potentially helping alleviate all of this, according to Starks, is 5G.

“I am optimistic that technology developments, especially 5G standards, will support our efforts to improve network and data security,” he said. But still, it will fall on people to make sure that the new technology meets the appropriate standards.

“If we work together, I am confident we can build a future that is more advanced, more secure and more prosperous, and more equitable for all.”