The electorate has spoken, and there will be four more years of a Barack Obama presidency.The Democrats have retained control of the Senate, and the Republicans have a comfortable margin in the House of Representatives.
Since neither party has been given a mandate to govern, it means that either gridlock will continue or bipartisanship will return to Washington.
Now that the election is over it is time to start to analyse how these developments may affect technology public policy.
One pressing area that Congress and the President need to address is cyber security legislation to protect our country’s infrastructure from a cyber war.
During the past several years, there have been numerous cyber attacks on public and private computer networks that has demonstrated the need for a comprehensive partnership between the government and the private sector to protect our country’s digital systems.
Unless bipartisanship reigns, it is doubtful that compromise cyber security legislation will be enacted. Even though the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act failed earlier this year, the White House may decide to implement an executive order to fill the void.
While an executive order may be one way for the administration to lead on this issue, it may not provide the same type of protection as bipartisan legislation.
With legislative compromise difficult to come by, the President may influence technology public policy through administrative investigations and rulemaking. Since the FTC is investigating Google for allegedly abusing its position to licence some smartphone patents in a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory manner, will the administration soon open an investigation into Google’s user privacy policies?
On March 1st of this year, Google replaced almost 70 different privacy policies for its services with one policy that enables it to comprehensively collect and share data about its users across its platforms to enhance its ability to serve ads.
Will the FTC utilise its rule making authority to create regulations to further restrict the ability of companies to data mine the digital content of children?
It would be a welcome change to see more bipartisanship that enables Congress to pass technology legislation that protects the interests of both businesses and consumers. The technology sector may want to agree to some digital data mining restrictions as a pre-emptive move to try to avoid stronger regulations.
Unfortunately, due to the toxic environment on Capitol Hill and the inability for some to believe that people still have the right to privacy in the Social Media Age, it is more likely that the administration will be forced to utilise its investigation and rulemaking authority to take the lead on technology public policy.
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