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Washington policy leaders set to mingle at CES in Las Vegas

Workers set up a booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins Thursday.
Workers set up a booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins Thursday. (Paul Sakuma/associated Press)

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By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tech geeks, meet the feds.

That will be one of the notable themes at the International Consumer Electronics Show that begins Thursday in Las Vegas, where the Obama administration's top technology advisers, regulators and lawmakers plan to mingle with Silicon Valley's gadget heads for the year's biggest show-and-tell for technology.

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The participation of tech policy leaders such as national Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, highlights Washington's growing interest in tech policy. Stimulus funds for broadband, proposals for governing Internet access, calls for more wireless spectrum, and investigations into the business practices of some of the industry's biggest players have gotten the attention of Silicon Valley, analysts said.

"Policy issues are front and center this year at CES," said Jason Oxman, senior vice president of the Consumer Electronics Association. "Broadband capabilities are in more devices than ever before. It will be hard to find a TV without broadband connectivity at the show, and everything wireless connects to the Internet, so broadband and spectrum policy issues are very important to the [consumer electronics] industry."

Chopra is scheduled to speak Thursday at 1:30 p.m. on the White House's goal to expand broadband Internet services and efforts in health information technology. At noon on Friday, Genachowski is slated to discuss the mandate to bring broadband to every U.S. home

In breakout sessions, the administration's Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin and Anna Gomez, deputy assistant secretary at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, plan to talk Thursday morning about the push to expand broadband.

Reps. Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) are scheduled to talk Friday at 1:30 p.m. about technology, media and consumer priorities for Congress.

FCC Commissioners Robert M. McDowell, Meredith Attwell Baker and Mignon Clyburn will be on a panel Saturday afternoon to discuss the agency's policy agenda, including net neutrality and spectrum allocation.


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