Regulators plead for help on data security

FTC chairwoman says it’s clear "that congressional action is necessary."

Technology evangelist O'Reilly worried about consumer privacy 'witch hunt'

Digital publisher and technology evangelist Tim O'Reilly on Wednesday told The Hill he's worried about the implications of lawmakers getting involved in consumer privacy.

They may not consider the potential impact on future innovation, he said: "There's a witch hunt around consumer privacy."

O'Reilly said there is a "real risk that somebody in Congress could get involved" in passing heavy-handed privacy legislation without considering that many consumers are willing to make tradeoffs with regards to sharing their private information.

For example, he said most users are OK with the online payment company Paypal sharing their name and address on eCommerce sites so they don't have to type them in repeatedly.

"That's a pretty benign, useful and consumer-friendly use of private data Paypal has access to," he said.


O'Reilly: Government needs to close the feedback loop

The government must take a page from the technology industry by learning how to measure the effectiveness of its programs, according to tech evangelist and O'Reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly.

As a well-known digital publisher and organizer of events like the Gov 2.0 Summit, O'Reilly is a key figure in the movement to increase the federal government's use of technology to engage the public. But, he argues, the focus on getting agencies to join Twitter and Facebook is misplaced.

"There's lots of focus on social media and outreach, but that's the easy stuff. The stuff that's hard that's been really transformative for industry is to create real-time feedback loops using data," O'Reilly said during a conversation Wednesday with Hillicon Valley.

He pointed to Walmart, where inventory is automatically updated when a customer purchases something at the check-out counter. O'Reilly said Walmart and other companies like it have managed to create a central nervous system using technology that constantly tracks how they are performing. He contrasted that with government, which is heavily reliant on a top-down approach but lacks feedback from end users.

"Government programs have no feedback loops to judge their effectiveness. Things are cast in concrete before we know whether they are going to work or not," he said. As an example, he cited the Head Start program for low-income children at the Department of Health and Human Services.

"If Head Start were a startup it would be out of business. It doesn't work," O'Reilly said.


Former telecom official takes leap into energy

Reed Hundt is best known as the man who helped shape today’s wireless industry. Now he’s applying lessons he learned in the telecom world to his latest mission: getting clean-energy technologies off the ground.


NAB Chief: Broadband plan would 'yank away' broadcasters' spectrum

Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters, used the organization's Las Vegas trade show as a platform to push back against proposals being considered by Congress and the FCC.

In his keynote speech today, he called the Performance Rights Act, which would require radio stations to pay royalties to singers, a "bailout of the major recording companies."