He talked with The Washington Post about the big issues he anticipates in Web and communications over the next year. The conversation was edited for length and clarity:
Q.What are the biggest tech policy trends to watch for in 2013?
Silicon Valley is not a monolithic entity, but you will see different business models coming from there that will disrupt different parts of the economy. That disruption will create activity in Washington and in courts.
Yes, seems like there is a lot of activity in the courts. Verizon’s suit against the FCC’s net neutrality rules will likely pick up this summer. The broadcast industry’s suit against Aereo, the TV streaming service, has drawn a lot of attention. Why are these suits significant?
You will continue to see legacy businesses look to Washington for protectionist legislation. Like with Aereo, broadcasters are fighting that in court, but you may also see them look to Congress to amend copyright laws.
Can’t you see the argument of broadcasters? They seem to be saying that Aereo is taking their content without paying fees and making money off it without sharing profits.
What Aereo is about is allowing consumers to send lawful content to themselves on different devices at different times. This is what cloud computing is about.
What do you expect from the FCC?
The next FCC will have to look at what rules apply to the pathways. They will look at data caps on Internet service, [telecom] interconnection obligations and, depending on what happens in the courts, its open Internet rules [net neutrality]. I see those as very important issues.
How about the FTC?
The implementation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act will be very closely watched. There is some ambiguity on final regulations, and the industry will have to work with the FTC on how the rules apply to third-party plug-ins like social media and whether that really applies.
Will SOPA, the controversial anti-piracy bill from January 2012, come back in some form?
I don’t see another SOPA coming up in the near term, but there will always be tensions when you have the scale of the Internet and people doing unlawful things. There will be questions on the roles and responsibilities of conduits [Internet sites, for example] and what the responsibilities of those conduits should be.