A new Congress, a new approach to technology?

14 Nov A new Congress, a new approach to technology?

CNET News, By Stephanie Condon, November 13, 2008
Presidential elections may capture the public’s attention, as Barack Obama’s victory did last week, but the less glamorous work in the U.S. Congress tends to prove more important for technology topics. In general, much of today’s current congressional leadership will continue unchanged into the next, albeit with some complications such as Obama’s departure and some narrow Senate races including Minnesota’s. Whatever the outcome, Democrats are likely to be newly emboldened and may be eager to approve legislation that stalled in the 110th Congress, including spyware regulations and a shield law that would protect some bloggers. The outlook is complicated by some shuffling in House and Senate committee leadership, which is expected to take place next week. Two politicians are jockeying over chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which includes green tech and Internet regulation in its portfolio. And increased interest in intellectual property issues in the House Judiciary Committee has led John Conyers (D-Mich.) to reorganize a key subcommittee. Same issues, new players. Energy-related legislation will be one area of expected focus, though a continued economic downturn could divert attention or Treasury funds. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “has taken a personal leadership role in identifying and advancing a house innovation agenda, which didn’t really get as far as it should have,” said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “Republicans are generally less oriented to pro-active policies to spur innovation–they’re more interested in reducing barriers to innovation.” Other issues expected to be addressed again next year include Net neutrality, consumer privacy issues such as regulation over electronic medical records, and patent reform.