Protecting Your Online Privacy

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 4, 2017 8:30:00 AM

There's been a brouhaha of late about Congress's vote to repeal regulations that seek to protect the privacy of broadband customers. In October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published rules that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to let their customers opt in or opt out of providing certain information about them and their online activity. The rules were set to take effect later this year. Congress used the Congressional Review Act to invalidate the rules claiming that they unfairly target only one type of internet company, but don't hold websites (e.g., Facebook or Twitter) or search engines like Google to the same standard. The rule's opponents also argue that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the appropriate agency to regulate internet privacy, not the FCC. Rationale aside, the bottom line is that since FCC's rules will not take effect, the status quo will remain for the time being. But, that does not leave consumers powerless. There are steps individuals can take to protect their privacy online.

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Topics: internet, technology, online privacy

Is Shadow IT Lurking in Your Office?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 28, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Shadow IT, also called rogue or stealth IT, exists in most offices. It refers to technology that employees use for business purposes, but which is not sanctioned by the IT department. In fact, the IT department may not even be aware that it's being used. Employees are likely utilizing shadow IT for laudable purposes:  to make their jobs easier and improve their productivity. But for those who are responsible for a company's IT strategy, it makes their jobs harder. Worse, it can pose compliance and security risks to the business.  

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Topics: small business, technology, cybersecurity

Small Business IT Solutions: In-House or Outsource?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 21, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Today, businesses of all types and sizes rely on technology to succeed. Whether it's email, online sales, social media or accounting (the list goes on), the need for reliable, secure and effective technology is crucial to business operations. Most companies are not in the business of technology per se, but it's a recognized means to an end. TECHPol has previously discussed the important IT decisions that new businesses should make. The question then becomes one of implementation. How will those technological needs be met? Is it best to hire IT professionals to work in-house or to contract with outside experts who can function as a business's IT department?  It's not necessarily an either-or proposition, but many small firms find that handling all of their technology needs internally is unwieldy. For business owners who are inclined to leave the IT headaches to someone else, managed services companies provide an option to consider.

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Topics: small business, technology, managed services

Your File Is Saved, but Is It Safe?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 28, 2017 8:30:00 AM

If you've ever spent hours of time, effort and intellectual brilliance creating the perfect document, just under deadline, only to lose it because it wasn't saved, you've learned your lesson. You are now hyper-diligent about clicking your save button, and the existence of a document recovery function provides little comfort. However, you should know that all "saves" are not equal. Your hard work may still be lost if your saved document is stored in the wrong place.

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Topics: technology, cybersecurity, data loss

Updating Technology Policy:  3 Bills Moving in Washington

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 14, 2017 8:30:00 AM

A new Congress was sworn into office on January 3rd. In between confirmation hearings of new cabinet members, we've heard a lot about an ambitious legislative agenda including tax reform, health care reform, and infrastructure investment.  But not all 535 members of the House and Senate are focused on these "heavy lifts." Some are pushing bills that require less muscle and fanfare to enact. TECHPol is following several bipartisan, technology-related measures that Congress has already made progress on in the early days of the 115th Congress.

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Topics: technology

That's a Wrap:  A Legislative Review

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Dec 13, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The 114th Congress (2015-2016) made its final push to pass legislation and wrapped up its work on Saturday. During each Congress, some 10,000 bills are introduced in the House and Senate, but only a select few (typically less than 5%) make it all the way through the process and are signed into law. Over the last two years, TECHPol has been following a number of federal legislative initiatives being considered in the House and Senate that affect small business and technology policy. As the 114th Congress comes to an end, we thought we should close the loop and report on the few destined to become law. 

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Topics: taxes, trade, federal policy, technology

The Cost of the Cloud: An IT Solution for Small Business?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Dec 6, 2016 8:30:00 AM


If you use technology, you've heard of "the cloud." It seems like the place to be, and whether or not you fully understand what it is, you may already be using it or feel like you should be. From a business perspective, there are many benefits to utilizing the cloud. In fact, it's predicted that businesses will devote more of their budget to the cloud in 2017 -- 34% up from 28% this year. As with any good decision-making process, the benefits should be weighed against the costs. It's the latter we hope to shed a little more light on, especially where small businesses are concerned.

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Topics: small business, technology

Warning:  Your Phone Has Been Hacked!

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Nov 8, 2016 8:30:00 AM

For many of us, there are few things more critical to our day-to-day functioning than our smart phone.  It not only keeps us in touch, but also tells us where to go when, answers our questions, and entertains us.  The mere thought of losing our phone brings on anxiety, but a lost phone (if it's backed up) may be much preferable to one that's been hacked.  Think of the personal data stored on phones -- emails, phone numbers, addresses, schedules, passwords, photos of our kids, our banking app.  What mischief could be done with such information in the wrong hands?   We've now moved past anxiety to a panic attack.  Let's take a deep breath.  There are steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are the signs of a hacked phone and suggestions for what you can do about it.

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Topics: technology, cybersecurity

Beware:  4 Scary Tech Stories

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Oct 25, 2016 8:30:00 AM

It's almost Halloween, and you may be getting in the mood with creepy decor, haunted houses and horror films. Some people actually enjoy the "thrill" of being frightened.  However, we are betting that these scary tech stories aren't the kind of fun you're seeking. Our message to you is, "BEWARE!"

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Topics: technology, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Three Bills to Address Technology Abuses

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Sep 20, 2016 8:31:00 AM

It's hard to break through the election-season drama and end-of-year budget showdown to learn about other policymaking going on in Washington.  But, there is some less publicized work being done on Capitol Hill, including recent progress on a number of bills aimed at cracking down on misuses or manipulation of technology. Just last week, Congress moved forward on three bills that seek to prevent behaviors that prey on consumers who are using technology.

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Topics: federal policy, technology

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FocusData: TECHPol is a blog on technology and business policy issues affecting small and mid-sized companies.  TECHPol’s primary author, Lori Salley Ring, spent 20-plus years working on Capitol Hill, including as the top staffer on the House Committee on Small Business.  FDS is an IT consulting firm providing managed services, office tech relocation, network security, and IT support for businesses in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.

Technology Policy Small Business


About the Author

Lori Salley Ring

Lori Salley Ring

Lori serves as Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist for Focus Data Solutions.  Lori spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff to a member of the House leadership and as the Staff Director for the Committee on Small Business.  Lori also ran a Washington-based non-profit organization between stints working for the Federal government. 

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