Arlington, VA–Technology leaders and top government and public policy officials converged yesterday to discuss electronics recycling, fair use, the digital television (DTV) transition and spectrum allocation during day one of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Washington Forum. The two-day conference focused on key issues affecting the consumer technology industry and runs through today at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC.
The Forum kicked-off on Monday morning with a keynote address delivered by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Senator Wyden called the industry to action on electronics recycling, asking manufacturers, retailers and other stakeholders to come to a consensus regarding a national e-waste financing mechanism. Recounting the industrys successes championing innovation and thwarting protectionism on issues such as Internet taxes, Y2K liability and net neutrality, Wyden urged, Once again you [the innovators] have to figure out how to prevail. If the innovators dont step-up, this crazy quilt [of state electronics recycling legislation] will make it difficult to innovate.
Wyden, the co-sponsor of the 2005 Waste Recycling Promotion and Consumer Protection Act, challenged industry representatives to be in his office the Monday after recess to find a solution.
To assist companies in navigating the current patchwork of state-level electronics recycling laws, the Forum featured a Monday morning panel, Riding the Green Wave: Why Electronics Recycling Compliance is Critical to Your Company, moderated by Parker Brugge, CEAs senior director and environmental counsel. Panelists Jason Linnell, executive director, National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) and Walter Alcorn, principal, Alcorn Consulting, offered a state-by-state look at electronics recycling and summarized key requirements such as reporting and registration, financial obligations and product design restrictions. Brugge gave an outlook for future state action and trends, reporting that 25 states and Puerto Rico have e-cycling legislation either proposed or under development, with three more states likely to pass legislation in the near future.
Brugge also announced that CEA would be re-launching its consumer education tool, www.myGreenElectronics.org, in mid-April in conjunction with Earth Day and said the website will feature new tools, such as an energy consumption calculator for electronics and a recycling collection event calendar.
At the Forum lunch CEAs president and CEO Gary Shapiro announced the latest class of CE Hall of Fame inductees. Shapiro then welcomed luncheon speaker, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), a past CEA Chairman and Digital Patriots honoree, who addressed subjects critical to the future of the consumer electronics industry, such as electronics recycling, international trade, the digital television transition and the preservation of fair use in the digital age.
Pointing to H.R. 1201 as a good “middle ground” approach to the current copyright debate, Congressman Issa noted, “digital is different, but fair use is still a right.” He called on all consumer electronics companies to show fair use leadership to protect not only the CE industry, but also intellectual property being brought to the content market. Congressman Issa also admonished the content industry for seeking exorbitant fees through lawsuits attacking digital technologies.
Mondays afternoon session, The Transition to Digital Television Who, What, Whereand What Next? moderated by Brian Cooley, editor-at-large for CNET, featured a compelling discussion between four industry leaders. The panel focused on the next steps necessary to ensure a successful transition to digital television. The panelists included Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA; Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO, National Cable and Telecommunications Association; John Larson, president and CEO, Association for Public Television Stations and Marcellus Alexander, executive vice president, National Association of Broadcasters Television and president, NAB Education Foundation. They agreed that consumer education about the DTV transition is a top priority. Each panelist applauded the new DTV Transition Coalition and its joint message of ensuring every consumer understands the options for navigating the digital television transition.
The closing session, The 700 MHz Spectrum Everyones Vying for It, Who Will Get it? and Other Spectrum Topics, moderated by Bryan Tramont, partner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, featured a compelling discussion of alternative proposals for public safety use of reclaimed spectrum. The panelists included Rebecca Arbogast, vice president, Stifel Nicolaus; Mary Brown, director, technology and spectrum policy, global policy and government affairs, Cisco Systems Inc.; Cecily Cohen, director, government and industry affairs, Nokia, Inc.; John Godfrey, vice president, government and public affairs, Samsung Information Systems America Inc.; and Steve Sharkey, director, spectrum and standards strategy, Motorola. They agreed that the spectrum from this auction could be the broadband solution for rural America, while yielding new innovations and technologies.
The CEA Washington Forum concluded Tuesday evening, with the Digital Patriots Dinner honoring Senator John Sununu (R-NH), Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Inc., for their contributions to further consumer technology.
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