In keeping with the push to protect consumers' personal data and privacy online, the Obama administration is expected to release its white paper on privacy, endorsing a "privacy bill of rights" and calling on companies to self-regulate by adopting codes of conduct.
"A lot can happen, even though it's unlikely no new legislation will be passed in Congress this year," said Wolf. But he noted, "They can serve as a 'bully pulpit.'"
Last year's Federal Trade Commission preliminary report on privacy in which the agency explored the concept of "Do Not Track" policies was a case in point. Since then, every browser added personal tracking tools, and the advertising community accelerated the roll out of its privacy icon for online behavioral targeted advertising. (Advertisers recently launched an advertising campaign to educate online users about the self-regulatory program.)
The FTC also stepped up its enforcement actions last year, announcing major consent decrees with Google, Facebook and Twitter that required the companies to put in place comprehensive privacy programs. "They've been a very active cop on the beat, and we'll see that continue," said Tim Tobin, a partner with Hogan Lovells. "We also expect them to become more active in mobile."