SOPA Opera

Techies Waiting to See How Big of a Pain Regulators Will Be in 2013

Let's get ready to rumble!
(via foursquare)

It was a big year for takin’ it to the streets. (via foursquare)

It’s cold as a witch’s tit, the Port Authority was evacuated this morning thanks to a rank gas smell, and one Betabeat reporter just burnt her arm on the heating pipe in her bathroom. Clearly 2013 is already off to a great start.

Oh, and throw one more thing on the pile: After a banner year for startup types getting their way in Washington, the New York Times reports that regulators are expected to tighten the reigns on tech companies in 2013. That means Alley and Valley types alike are looking uneasily in the direction of D.C., trying to figure out what the swamp things in the capitol district will be cooking up this year.

Welcome to the big leagues, boys and girls!

2012 was the year tech companies, who often act a bit above the fray when it comes to politics, beefed up their Washington lobbying organizations and learned to keep one eye on Congress. As a result, the startup community was able to rally the troops against SOPA and PIPA. But that was just a tiff, in the grand scheme of things.

The Times says:

“Now that the election is over, Silicon Valley companies each are thinking through their strategy for the second Obama administration,” said Peter Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University and a former White House privacy official.

The F.T.C. is getting a new chairman, for example, which will likely impact what happens with the investigation into Google’s competitive practices.

Also looming large is the possibility of bills addressing either online security or (heaven forfend!) consumer privacy. It’s not like Congress is going to ignore the Internet when the merest revision of Instagram’s terms of service inspires near-revolt among users. That means industry can’t let up the gas if it intends to get its way. Let’s not even get into the headache that is the European Union.

As Intel’s director of security policy told the Times,

“Industry has realized it is important to be engaged,” he continued, “to make sure government stakeholders are fully informed and educated about the role that new technology plays and to make sure any action taken doesn’t unnecessarily burden the innovation economy while still protecting individual trust in new technology.”

In short: Expect to see many more White House check-ins and sepia-toned Instas of the Capitol Building from techie luminaries.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com