Wyden lays out tech policy roadmap for 2013

Wyden also called on Congress to do an analysis on software patents’ contribution to the economy. He said software changes too rapidly to put a patent on it for 20 years — a lifetime by Silicon Valley standards.

Also on Wyden’s policy roadmap for the year: He plans to push his legislation on broadband data caps. Wyden introduced the bill before the congressional session came to a close last month. It would require the FCC to establish standards that ISPs will use to measure the amount of data that their subscribers consume.

The Oregon Democrat has argued that the bill would prevent ISPs from using data caps to discriminate against data-heavy content, or create a scarcity of Internet bandwidth as way to monetize that data.

“The Internet is too important to our common interest to enable bits and bytes to be viewed only in terms of dollars and cents,” Wyden said.

He also called for a rewrite of privacy rules that govern online communications, adding that the documents people leave laying on their tables at home have more privacy protections than the ones they store in the cloud. To that end, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) plans to revive efforts to pass a revised electronic communications privacy bill that would accomplish that goal this year.

At last year’s CES, Wyden helped stir up the public criticism against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act. Wyden called on tech companies and advocacy groups to keep up the fight against stringent copyright rules that would shut down law-abiding websites.

“I see government’s role in the tech space as mostly eliminating barriers … and trying to hold off those kind of incumbent interests who are sort of all working for stagnation, and rent seeking deals and the like,” Wyden said.

But he added that efforts to clamp down on counterfeiting and copyright infringement on the Web “must occur through the prism of international trade policy.” Wyden said he plans to introduce some form of legislation on this subject.

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