SIIA Digital Policy Roundup: Many Key Developments As 2013 Comes To A Close

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SIIA Responds to Student Privacy Fears
With increased public attention to the issues of student data privacy in K-12 schools, SIIA released responses to Frequently Asked Questions about Student Data Privacy. SIIA hopes it will help address much of the public misunderstanding and inform policymakers. Adding to the debate was a recent critical study out of Fordham Law School, “Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools.” SIIA responded with a statement that the CLIP Study on Privacy and Cloud Computing Doesn’t Account for Strict Federal Data Protections. SIIA also held a webinar for members only with federal officials explaining FERPA guidance. SIIA expects 2014 to present a very busy state (and possibly federal) legislative season around student information privacy and related issues. For example, SIIA is reviewing recent NY State legislation after having testified in November before the state education committee.

Senate Commerce Cmte. Gets Jump on Data Broker Debate
On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee went out with a bang by releasing aCommittee report and holding a high-profile hearing to explore how “data brokers,” collect and use data. This is a very important issue to SIIA member companies, as the expansive definition often used to define a “data broker” could be interpreted to include an extremely wide range of companies that collect and share consumer information. As policymakers consider whether new laws or regulations are necessary to protect consumers, SIIA released a white paper about how the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) consumer protection framework is keeping pace with technological innovation to protect consumers and is s a good model for privacy policy in the age of data-driven innovation. The FTC is also expected to release a long-awaited report on the topic no later than February 2014, and hold a workshop to explore potential gaps in current regulation.

Intellectual Property Priorities Hot topic in Closing Months
Over the past weeks we have seen significant action on two of the most important intellectual property issues to SIIA: Patent Litigation Abuse Legislation and Copyright Review. As reported previously, the Innovation Act, H.R. 3309, passed the House two weeks ago, and this Tuesday the Senate held a hearing to consider its own legislative proposals. The Supreme Court also announced that it was will be taking on patent issues in 2014 when it decides a case that will determine the appropriate standard for the patentability of software, and just last week the PTO appointed the new Deputy Director, Michelle Lee. Last week, the PTO and NTIA also held a long-awaited policy meeting to discuss important copyright issues in the digital environment that were raised in the Copyright Green Paper. Additional roundtables will be held on these issues in the first half of 2014. The House also plans on holding copyright review hearing in early January relating to the scope of copyright rights and other topics.

2013 Wraps without Postal Reform, Rate Hikes Pending
With Congress heading into recess, it is official that 2013 will end without enactment of postal reform legislation – in fact the Senate failed to keep pace with the House when the scheduled Committee markup scheduled for Dec. 18 was postponed due to a lack of support by committee members. It goes without saying that this doesn’t bode well for postal reform in the second session of Congress in 2014- an election year. In the meantime, the much anticipated decision about the the Postal Service’s proposed exigent rate increase is expected from the Postal Regulatory Commission any day now.

SIIA Commends Surveillance Reform Recommendations
On Thursday, SIIA commended the White House Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, for proposing surveillance recommendations that closely tracked recommendations that SIIA made in our October comments to the Group. In ourpublic response, we reiterated our call for reforms that will preserve U.S. national security interests, but with built-in privacy protections. Additionally, SIIA highlighted the critical priority for governments around the world to engage in global dialogue regarding policy reforms on surveillance and pledged to continue working closely with the Obama Administration as they consider these proposed reforms.

Federal IT Reform Pulled from Spending Bill
Add federal IT reform to the list off issues that will be punted to the second session of the 113th Congress. One of the last acts of Congress this week was to pass legislation Authorizing FY2014 National Defense spending, but the legislation was stripped of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which was included in the original defense authorization bill passed in the House this summer. Therefore, this issue will now have to be addressed either as part of next year’s defense authorization or as a stand-alone bill. To that end Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced new reform legislation this week, the Federal IT Savings Accountability and Transparency Act (FITSAT), which incorporates a number of provisions from the original FITARA legislation, including those that would expand the authority of the agency CIO.

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.