Tensions Rise for Technology Issues in 2015

Any kid who got a PlayStation for Christmas only to be unable to use its online network can tell you that hackers became more daring and destructive in 2014.

Cybersecurity is only one of many tech policy issues that will become more of a challenge to lawmakers and politicians in 2015, when Republicans will assume majority control of the Senate and the U.S. will confront foreign policy made increasingly complex by the Internet.

Congress has fought for and failed to pass comprehensive cybersecurity reform in recent years, but numerous attacks on networks in 2014 reminded Americans of how vulnerable consumers and companies are to hackers.

The year began with businesses like Target and Neiman Marcus reeling from massive breaches of their customers’ data and ended with Sony Pictures Entertainment suffering what could be the most devastating hack ever staged against a U.S. company. Another cybersecurity debacle faced Sony and Microsoft on Christmas Day when hackers disabled the online networks of both the PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles.

It is unclear whether cybersecurity legislation will be easier to pass in 2015, when control over the Senate shifts to Republicans, or whether having fewer Democratic lawmakers will reduce awareness of privacy in tech policy reform. Silicon Valley is gearing up to play a stronger role in lobbying Congress on tech industry issues in 2015, after several tech policy failures this past session, and ashift in Senate leadership may help the tech industry’s efforts

The tech industry continues to lobby in favor of net neutrality rules being considered by the Federal Communications Commission, which may affect the future quality of Internet connections as much as cybersecurity.

Nearly a year after Verizon Communications defeated the previous net neutrality rules in court, the commission is considering whether to invoke its legal authority over phone companies to apply the open Internet rules to Internet providers.

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