SIIA Digital Policy Roundup: New year kicks off with Student Privacy, Copyright Review, Trade, Data Security and More

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First weeks of 2014 Promise a Busy Year on Student Data Privacy
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) announced plans today to introduce student data privacy legislation, likely amending the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The announcement was made at an EPIC event and featured reaction from CLIP’s Joel Ridenberg and USED CPO Kathleen Styles, among others. Senator Markey’s legislationwould restrict the use of student data for commercial purposes, require parental access and correction, require minimum security safeguards, and require private companies to delete information no longer needed to serve those students. SIIA responded that Federal Laws Protect Student Privacy. This week’s USED response to questions from Senator Markey similarly reinforced current federal protections. Meanwhile, state legislatures are considering bills across the country ranging from parental opt-in or opt-out to Parent’s Bill of Rights to breach penalties to state chief privacy officer appointments. With multiple bills pending in New York, SIIA met last week with the senior staff of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo to inform the Governor’s understanding and policies. Please review and share SIIA’sFrequently Asked Questions about Student Data Privacy.

House Kicks off Copyright Review Agenda for 2014
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary IP Subcommittee kicked off 2014 with a return to its review of the Copyright Act with a hearing on the Scope of Copyright Protection. This is the first of several copyright review hearings planned for this year, including additional hearings on the scope of fair use and the notice and takedown system. We expect that additional hearings will also focus on the Copyright Office operations, and other issues that have been raised by theU.S. Copyright Office (e.g., Orphan Works, Small Claims Court) or in the Administration’s Copyright Green Paper (e.g., statutory damages, first sale) among other topics. The topics will be addressed generally in the order they appear in the statute. In 2013 the Committee averaged about one copyright review hearing each month. We expect that will increase to about 1 1/2 hearings per month in 2014. SIIA will continue to closely track this ongoing process and provide input to the Committee as appropriate.

EU Report on Safe Harbor Begins U.S. – EU Negotiations
Stakeholders in the United States are currently assessing the Commission’s 13 recommendations contained in the November 27, 2013 Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on the Functioning of the Safe Harbor from the Perspective of EU Citizens and Companies Established in the EU. With these recommendations, the Commission has made many constructive suggestions and demonstrated a willingness to continue to preserve the Safe Harbor framework.
SIIA is encouraged that the United States and the European Union are in a position to work intensively to arrive at mutually acceptable agreements on the future of the Safe Harbor. The U.S.-EU negotiations on the Safe Harbor start this year in Brussels, the week of January 20. These talks are expected to continue until the summer and SIIA will be working intensively with members to provide U.S. negotiators with suggestions and feedback during the coming six or so months.

Additional Digital Policy Developments You Should Know
The first two weeks of 2014 were filled with as many digital policy developments as any in recent memory -surely a harbinger for the remainder of the year. Here’s a rundown of other top digital policy issues that we’ll cover next more detail in the weeks ahead:

  • Data Security – the Target data breach has caught the attention of policymakers far and wide, spurring a renewed push on the Hill for data security legislation.  Most notably, Sen. Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy has re-introduced his legislation on this topic and has made it one of his priorities for the year.
  • Net Neutrality – A federal appeals court sent shockwaves through the Internet on Tuesday with its much anticipated ruling on net neutrality, striking down the FCC’s regulations that require Internet providers to treat all traffic the same.  The immediateresponse from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was a pledge to “consider all available options, including those for appeal, to ensure that these networks on which the Internet depends continue to provide a free and open platform for innovation and expression…” The ruling is also likely spur a renewed push on the Hill for a legislative fix.
  • Privacy and Surveillance Review – The major issue of the year for 2013, revelations about USG surveillance, continues to sit on a hot front burner in 2014, as Congress already held a high-profile hearing and President Obama is expected to issue new proposals on the topic Friday.

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.