US election could mean movement on high-skill immigration, copyright

Expect debates on cybersecurity, spectrum and privacy in Congress in 2013

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Still, lawmakers have been reluctant to deal with high-skill immigration separate from illegal immigration, and illegal immigration remains a difficult, hot-button issue in Congress. While Congress may move forward on high-skill immigration, the "status quo in the White House could worsen prospects, Arlene Holen, a senior fellow at TPI, said in an email. "Despite claiming the importance of high-skilled immigration, they have been making it much harder administratively to get visas."

Copyright enforcement: Huge online protests in late 2011 and early this year sunk SOPA and PIPA, but expect the Motion Picture Association of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other backers of stronger copyright enforcement to push for revamped legislation in 2013.

Those groups will likely advocate for lite versions of SOPA or PIPA in an effort to paint opponents of the bills as out of the mainstream, predicted Gigi Sohn, president of digital rights group Public Knowledge and a vocal opponent of SOPA and PIPA. But after millions of Internet users spoke out against SOPA and PIPA, there will also be a "push on the other side" to roll back some past copyright protections that critics see as excessive, she said.

The U.S. could also see a "huge consumer outcry" if a U.S. Copyright ruling against ripping one's own DVD stands and if the Supreme Court rules that consumers cannot resell copyright-protected products produced overseas, Sohn said.

"We now are going to have a national conversation about what's the right level of [intellectual property] enforcement, regardless of who proposes what," Sohn said. "I think there's actually going to be a serious conversation."

Look for the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Obama to continue to shut down websites accused of trafficking in counterfeit or pirated products. The two agencies have seized more than 1,500 websites for alleged copyright infringement and counterfeiting during the past two years.

Cybersecurity: Congress debated several cybersecurity bills in its 2011-12 session, but failed to pass legislation. Many of the bills focused on allowing U.S. agencies and private companies to share cyberthreat information with each other, although digital rights and civil liberties groups raised privacy concerns. Several observers, including TechAmerica's Richards and the Center for Democracy and Technology senior counsel Greg Nojeim, expect Obama to issue an executive order on cybersecurity early next year, if Congress does not act in an upcoming lame-duck session.

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