Technology-related legislation can have a huge impact on growing businesses, and some interesting issues are likely to pop up with the new Congress this year. Of great interest to growing businesses are the topics of data protection and net neutrality.
Laws that lay out more stringent requirements for retaining and protecting employee and customer data could be on the horizon. "The laws that apply to big business are going to trickle down to small business," says Ann Westerheim, founder and president of technology consulting firm Ekaru. "Businesses need to have that on their radar. You don't want to get hit with a fine because you're not complying." She suggests looking at laws like Sarbanes-Oxley to get an idea of where new tech laws could be heading.
The good news is that proper data protection is something businesses should be doing anyway. "A lot of the measures required to protect employee and customer data are just good business practices," says Westerheim. Growing businesses can head off potential compliance costs by gradually shoring up their IT security and data protection now.
Net neutrality is likely to be a hot issue again after stalling in the Senate last year. Net neutrality proponents want regulations to prevent network providers from prioritizing certain internet traffic. "Net neutrality is a big issue for small businesses," says Westerheim. A net neutrality law stands a better chance of passing with strong Democratic backing this year, but it figures to be a hard-fought battle. Digital copyright issues could also come to the fore in Congress. With the changes brought about by the last election, it will be an interesting year for entrepreneurs to keep an eye on the goings-on in Washington.