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  • Law, Policy -- and IT?

    Tracy Mitrano explores the intersection where higher education, the Internet and the world meet (and sometimes collide).

Five IT Law and Policy Hopes for 2013
January 3, 2013 - 8:58am

1.  Copyright Reform balancing innovation with incentive.

2.  Electronic Communications Privacy Act reform updating legislation technologically while retaining Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.

3.  Civil privacy reform that sets regulations on data mining, recombining, profiling and sale of information about individual persons.

4.  Accessibility enhancements merged by design into information technologies, both hard and software.

5.  Anti-trust investigations that address particular challenges of information technology and its effect on the market and society, and action, where necessary.

Pie in the sky? Shouldn't be. The issues surrounding these areas are now well documented and openly discussed in many circles around the country, if not world. While obviously not everyone will agree on exactly how to rebalance law and regulation, it is critical that the United States, if it wants to continue to be a leader in the development of information technology, deeply engage the public as well as legislatures and regulators on these issues.  Implicit in this view is the understanding that "technology" per se does not stand on its own, not even in a research and development setting where it is most purely conceived, but especially once released into social context via the market it automatically acquires legal, social and economic significance.  Although hardly specific to higher education, that higher education associations and institutions have skin in the game is no secret, nor should it be.  Rather, higher education, given its particular strength of embracing so many disciplines in critical conversation, should stand as a leader to encourage debate and to help educate the public about why these issues matter and to offer perspectives on how the law might best respond to contemporary challenges stemming from these issues.

Only then, with a foundation of sensible, balanced law and regulation that incorporates time-honored values of fairness and opportunity can innovation and expansion truly thrive.

Next: A Wish List built upon this foundation.


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