Please welcome AG’s newest writer, Melanie Wyne who has been a technology policy advocate for nearly a decade. At NAR Melanie’s policy portfolio includes telecommunications/ internet policy, data privacy and security and intellectual property issues. Prior to joining NAR, Melanie was the Director of public policy for a global technology trade association where she lobbied in Washington and in foreign capitals for the technology industry. She has also been a policy advocate for Bank of America where she handled the Bank’s technology portfolio including data privacy and security issues. Melanie‘s professional background also includes stints as a software startup executive and a commercial litigation attorney. Clearly, she will be writing from a highly experienced point of view about technology changes in this tumultuous times and the political finesse it takes for worthwhile policy to be passed- we are very excited for Melanie to be on board and ask you to welcome her in the comments!
For my inaugural post I thought I’d do a brief roundup of what federal policymakers in will be paying attention to in the coming year. Congress gets back to work next week and while health care and the underpants bomber will be on the immediate front burner, a number of tech policy issues are sure to get some play in 2010. Here are a few topics that I’ll dive into in more depth in future posts.
National Broadband Plan
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will release its National Broadband Plan to Congress on February 17. The plan is intended to enable greater access to the internet and to encourage competition and innovation in the broadband marketplace. NAR supports efforts to encourage broadband access and adoption as studies show that communities with broadband availability are more economically viable than those without it.
Net Neutrality aims to ensure that internet service providers do not block, degrade or discriminate against online content, services or applications that might compete with them. While most agree that this is a worthy goal, as with all things policy, the devil is in the details. This issue is currently under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission and there is legislation pending in Congress to codify network neutrality rules. Because the business of real estate is increasingly conducted online, NAR supports network neutrality principles as a way to ensure that future innovations in the industry are not impeded.
Privacy & Data Security
Privacy and data security issues are facing more scrutiny on Capitol Hill and with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) than in years past. Two subcommittees of the House Energy & Commerce committee are jointly working on a draft Comprehensive Privacy Bill likely to be introduced early in 2010 that would mandate increase disclosure of data collection and use practices. In addition the Federal Trade Commission is engaged in a comprehensive review of the privacy regulations and is likely to issue new regulations in this area this year.
Mobile Phone Issues
A number of issues related to mobile phone services have cropped up recently with both Congress and the FCC looking into early termination fees for mobile phone contracts as well as handset exclusivity arrangements that restrict consumers from using any device on any network. The Senate has introduced a bill to put limits on early termination fees and the FCC has begun an inquiry on the matter.
These are just a few of the issues that will be considered in Washington this year. I look forward to discussing these and other tech policy issues with the AG community. Please weigh in with comments, especially helpful for me are examples of how these policy issues affect real estate professionals in their business operations. I’ll share those stories with policymakers and work to get them to do the right thing for the real estate industry.