Digital Policy Roundup

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SIIA Weights in with White House on “Big Data and Privacy”

On Monday, SIIA submitted comments in response to the White House’s request for information on how the government can best protect citizens’ privacy in the age of “big data” analytics. SIIA’s overarching recommendation for policymakers is to proceed cautiously when considering new data policies, as these are likely to steer the future of data-driven innovation and the scope of what is possible for American innovation for decades to come. Policies that seek to curb the use of data could stifle this nascent technological and economic revolution before it can truly take hold. Additional inputs for the ongoing Obama Administration big data review process include full day workshops at UC Berkely on April 1st, and NYU on March 17th. The Administration is expected to release the outcome of the 90 day review on April 17th.

Student Data Privacy Legislative Update

Student data privacy bills are pending in a majority of state legislatures, though few have reached the finish line. Most notably, SB 167 was defeated in Georgia, a significantly modified version of NY S6007 was included in the NY State Budget signed into law yesterday, and discussions are ongoing regarding CA SB 1177. SIIA continues to emphasize the need to limit restrictions to “personally identifiable” information, the challenges to schools of parent opt-in/out policies, the important use of meta-data to drive product algorithms, and that one-size requirements on service providers will not work if they fail to address school primary governance in areas such as breach notification, data deletion, and access and correction. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Markey (MA) indicates continued work toward introducing a bill to amend the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). SIIA members interested in student privacy should contact SIIA’s Mark Schneiderman.

New School Technology Funding Advances

State and federal initiatives are advancing around technology access, infrastructure and related educator supports. The 2014-2015 New York State Budget signed into law yesterday will authorize up to $2 billion from state bonds to fund school broadband infrastructure and student devices, pending voter approval, with funding distributed on a needs-base formula over the next few years to schools with a state approved technology plan. Equity in technology access was among the SIIA recommendations in testimony 18 months ago to Governor Cuomo’s education reform commission. At the federal level, the FCC issued a second NPRM for the E-rate, calling for comments on their proposed rules, including to prioritize new funding for internal connections including school Wi-Fi, eliminate or phase out voice support, and potentially provide funding eligibility to caching servers and network filtering software. Finally, President Obama’s 2015 Education Budget proposal includes $200-$500 million for a new ConnectEDucators program, which would provide competitive grants for teacher and principal professional development in the improvement of curriculum and instruction through technology.

SIIA Government Forum on Mobile Learning – Innovative Policies, Developer Content and Data Tools are Key

The SIIA Education Government Forum has been the preeminent Washington, DC industry conference focused on technology and digital learning. Last week SIIA hosted a successful meeting with education policy makers education policy makers to enhance dialogue with developers of mobile learning and other education technologies. Discussions helped SIIA members better understand how public policies, funding and regulations are impacting their K-20 education customers, and provided education and government officials with a better understanding of the industry’s role, questions and concerns. To learn about the key takeaways of the meeting click hereCheck back next week for an archive of session summaries and presentations.

SCOTUS hears arguments in patentability of software case

Monday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on CLS v Alice, a patent case which will establish standards for determining the patentability of computer-implemented inventions. During the arguments, the Justices expressed their concerns with vaguely and broadly defined patents, however, they seemed to be apprehensive about making any radical change to the patent law. Some of the Justice’s statements indicated a willingness to try and provide guidance to lower courts that would help them determine what types of computer-implemented inventions are patent eligible. However, other Justices (e.g., Roberts and Sotomayer) suggested there was no need for such a broad a ruling. A decision in the case is expected by the end of June.

Brazil passes bill without data localization

Last week, Brazil’s lower house of Congress passed much anticipated legislation after stripping a controversial requirement requiring data to be stored locally (Senate currently considering the legislation). This was clearly a positive step, but, as the Economist reports, the current draft would extend the applicability of Brazilian law to any company providing Internet services to Brazilian citizens. Moreover, companies could be fined up to 10% of their Brazilian revenues or be blocked from providing services if they do not comply with Brazilian law.

New UK Copyright Rules for text and data mining move closer to Adoption

On March 27, 2014, the Intellectual Property Office in the United Kingdom published final Exceptions to Copyright regulations for consideration by the U.K. Parliament. An important change that is of interest to both data providers and analytics companies is the new exception from copyright for text and data analysis for non-commercial research. This exception would allow non-commercial researchers who have lawful access to a work to engage in computational analysis of anything recorded in the work without explicit authorization of the copyright owner. Guidance associated with the new exception allows publishers and content providers to “apply reasonable measures to maintain their network security or stability but these measures should not prevent or unreasonably restrict researcher’s ability to text and data mine.” The regulations will now be debated in both Houses of Parliament. If the regulations are approved they will come into force on June 1, 2014.

David David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.