Technology and Innovation

A Reliable Connection for Rural America

The internet has brought Americans a host of benefits – from a wealth of information to unparalleled convenience to new opportunities for commerce and education to new methods of communication. South Dakotans and other Americans who live in rural areas deserve access to high-speed broadband networks. Expanding internet access in rural America has long been a priority for me, and building and maintaining reliable networks across the United States has never been more critical. As the internet becomes more vital to everyday life, reliable broadband networks are an essential component to help rural Americans stay connected. I will continue to support broadband investment at the Federal Communications Commission to close the digital divide and ensure rural areas have access to the internet. 

The Race to 5G

Reliable, fast internet is an essential element of our nation’s infrastructure. Like roads and bridges and railways and airports, strong internet networks keep our economy going.  5G mobile broadband technology has the power to change the way we interact with the internet. 5G will be 100 times faster and support 100 times as many devices, enabling massive breakthroughs in health care, transportation, agriculture, and other key industries. I've been supportive of this breakthrough technology from the beginning. In fact, working alongside local leaders, we made Sioux Falls one of the first cities in the country to deploy a 5G network. 

As ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, I am committed to advancing smart federal policy to keep South Dakota at the forefront of innovation. We need to remove regulatory and permitting hurdles and ensure that companies have access to the spectrum they need to build strong networks. I’ll continue to work to advance nationwide 5G deployment and fight for our rural communities that deserve to have the full benefits of the 5G revolution. This is a race that we cannot afford to lose. 

Holding Big Tech Accountable

I strongly believe that social media users should have more due process and transparency in how their content is being shaped and censored. 

Today, big tech companies hold immense power because they, in many ways, filter the content that Americans see and consume online. These corporations have developed high-powered, opaque algorithms that learn online behavior and deliver customized results based on what we search, see, and share online. How they do it is largely unknown, making it impossible for users to know how their online experience is being shaped. These platforms have also started to act as the arbiters of truth by moderating and censoring user-generated political content – political speech, essentially.

I’ve been a long-time advocate for holding big tech accountable for its secretive content moderation and censorship practices. I’ve held multiple hearings on this topic over the years and have introduced several bipartisan pieces of legislation that would help strengthen online transparency and accountability. I will continue to be a tireless advocate for the American people who, again, deserve to know how their information is being treated by Big Tech.

Automated vehicles

Each year, more than 35,000 people die in automobile accidents, and more than 90 percent of those accidents can be attributed to human error. That’s why automated vehicles present an opportunity to make incredible safety improvements. Automated vehicles will also allow urban planners to rethink challenges like parking and traffic, and they could drastically improve the quality of life for disabled and elderly Americans who often have reduced mobility. Given the potential I see in automated vehicles, I’ve been working to develop a bipartisan legislative framework for the safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles.

Advancing AV technology is not just a vehicle safety issue. It’s an issue of U.S. leadership and global competitiveness. While U.S. companies currently lead the world in AV technology, other nations like China are already acting boldly to take the lead. Investing in AV technology here in the United States not only strengthens the resilience of the auto industry, but also the nation’s industrial base and national security.

I will continue to work on efforts to harness the safety, quality of life, and economic benefits of this critical emerging technology.

Highlights of Senator Thune’s Commitment to:

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