How Will 2016 Tech Policy Impact the Digital World?

Net Neutrality, encryption, and commercial drone usage are starting to mature, and 2016 could be the year they get a much needed regulatory framework.

Legislation never seems quite able to keep up with technological development. However, it seems that issues like Net Neutrality, encryption, and commercial drone usage are starting to mature, and get the regulatory framework they need. A post from BuzzFeed outlines how tech policy issues are being addressed this coming year.

Cybersecurity, particularly as it related to encryption, was a big topic of discussion last year. Since none of the government proposed initiatives appeared to eliminate backdoors, all were met with strong resistance. The challenge this year, according to Hamza Shaban of BuzzFeed, could come from security agencies:

While the FBI has not presented evidence that encrypted communication prevented law enforcement from thwarting the attacks, they will point to the looming threat of terrorism to push for Silicon Valley to change its stance this year.

The legal situation regarding drones is also likely to gain clarity in the near future. Companies like Facebook and Amazon have a vested interest in the anticipated FAA stance, and Shaban points to hope that the future for drones may look bright:

[A]rmed with a pilot’s license and enough paperwork, professional operators can receive a special exemption from the FAA. This year the agency is expected to do away with the exemption process and lift the ban.

Net Neutrality is perhaps the most impactful policy up for debate, for the internet as a whole. While the legislation developed throughout last year, and is now in place, challenges arose almost immediately. However, certain moves in the streaming market could make the industry a moving target for legislation, as apps that don’t count towards data caps are introduced, and mobile devices become primary devices for more and more users.