|News from April 26-30, 2003|
House Commerce Committee Passes Spectrum Relocation Bill
4/30. The House Commerce Committee amended and approved HR 1320, the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act. The Committee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute [PDF] offered by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI).
This bill would change the process for reallocating spectrum from federal users to commercial users, such as for Third Generation (3G) wireless services. For example, the Department of Defense (DOD) currently uses spectrum in the 1710-1755 MHz band. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have identified this band for reallocation for 3G services. The DOD will incur expenses to relocate to other spectrum bands. The bill would create a Spectrum Relocation Fund, funded by auction proceeds, to compensate federal agencies for the cost of relocating. The bill would replace the current role of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
On April 29, Nancy Victory, Director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), gave a speech regarding at a NARUC/NECA convention in which she stated that "Spectrum relocation fund legislation potentially embodies another significant step toward facilitating the deployment of new wireless broadband services and products. The current process for compensating federal agencies that relocate to make spectrum available for commercial use is time consuming and resource intensive for both government incumbents and auction winners. A spectrum relocation fund, however, could streamline and shorten the process for reimbursing incumbent government users, which in turn, could facilitate their relocation to comparable spectrum and thus expedite the opening of the original spectrum to new services and technologies."
The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) Steve Berry stated in a release after the Committee vote that "this bill represents sound government policy, delivering crucial spectrum for wireless consumers, sufficient compensation for relocating incumbents and a straightforward plan to complete the transition".
The Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee marked up the bill on April 9, 2003. See, story titled "House Subcommittee Approves Spectrum Relocation Fund Bill", TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 641, April 10, 2003. See also, TLJ story titled "House Subcommittee Holds Hearing On Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act", March 25, 2003.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the companion bill in the Senate, S 865, on April 10, 2003. No action has been taken on that bill.
Bush Signs PROTECT Act
4/30. President Bush signed S 151, the PROTECT Act. This bill incorporated HR 1104, the Child Abduction Prevention Act. PROTECT is an acronym for "Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today". While this bill is popularly know as the "Amber Alert" bill, it also contains several technology related items, including a ban on use of certain misleading domain names, provisions pertaining to computer generated images, and an expansion of the list of offenses that may serve as a predicate for the issuance of a wiretap order.
§ 521 of the conference report [118 pages PDF], which is also known as the "Truth in Domain Names Act", provides that "Whoever knowingly uses a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive a person into viewing material constituting obscenity shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both". It further provides that "Whoever knowingly uses a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive a minor into viewing material that is harmful to minors on the Internet shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 4 years, or both."
§ 201 of the conference report amends 18 U.S.C. § 2516 to expand the list of offenses that may serve as predicates for the issuance of a court order authorizing a wiretap. It adds offenses pertaining to sex crimes against children, and child obscenity and pornography
§§ 501-513 of the conference report pertain to child obscenity and pornography prevention. These sections are, in part, a response to the Supreme Court's April 16, 2002, opinion [PDF] in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, in which the Court held unconstitutional on First Amendment and overbreadth grounds provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA) banning computer generated images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The House and Senate bills had previously diverged on this issue. §§ 501-513 reflect a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
The problem addressed by the bill is that the Supreme Court's opinion opened the door for all digital child pornographers to escape conviction by falsely asserting that their images are computer generated. This is an assertion that is difficult for prosecutors to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt.
The bill restates the ban, but provides as an affirmative defense the argument that no children were actually used. That is, it shifts the burden of proof on the issue of virtual pornography from the prosecution to the defense. The bill provides that "It shall be an affirmative defense ... that ... the alleged child pornography was not produced using any actual minor or minors."
President Bush stated in a release that "The new law also confronts an evil that is too often a cause of child abuse and abduction in America -- the evil of child pornography. In the past, prosecutors have been hindered by not having all the tools needed to prosecute criminals who create child pornography. Under the Protect Act, we've seen images of children, even those created with computer technology, will now be illegal, giving prosecutors an important new tool. Obscene images of children, no matter how they are made, incite abuse, raise the dangers to children and will not be tolerated in America."
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the sponsor of the House version of the bill, stated in a release that "This legislation marks a great victory in our efforts to protect children from child predators. By taking forceful steps to prevent, investigate, and prosecute crimes against children, this legislation truly constitutes the most important and far-reaching child protection legislation in the last twenty years. Some doubted this legislation could be enacted because they mistakenly believed Congress lacked the willpower. Those doubters were wrong and our children will be safer under this legislation as a result."
The Department of Justice also issued a release on the PROTECT Act.
Senate Passes Technology Grant Bill
4/30. The Senate passed S 196, the Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act of 2003, by a vote of 97-0. See, Roll Call No. 136. The bill would create a new office at the National Science Foundation (NSF) named the Office of Digital and Wireless Network Technology (ODWNT). The bill would also authorize the appropriation of $250,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2004 through 2008 for grants to be administered by this new office.
The institutions eligible for grants would include "a historically Black college or university", "a Hispanic-serving institution", and "a tribally controlled college or university".
Grants could be used "to acquire the equipment, instrumentation, networking capability, hardware and software, digital network technology, wireless technology, and infrastructure". Grants could also be used "to develop and provide educational services, including faculty development, related to science, mathematics, engineering, or technology".
Grants could also be used to provide teacher training, and to "implement joint projects and consortia to provide education regarding technology". Grants could also be used to "to provide capacity-building technical assistance to eligible institutions through remote technical support, technical assistance workshops, distance learning, new technologies, and other technological applications".
The bill is sponsored by Sen. George Allen (R-VA). The House has not yet passed the bill.
See also, story titled "Senate Committee Approves Technology Grant Program for Minority Serving Institutions" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 623, March 14, 2003, and story titled "Sen. Allen Introduces Bill to Create Technology Grant Program for MSIs" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 586, January 20, 2003.
FCC Releases E-Rate Order and NPRM
4/30. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [70 pages in PDF] regarding its e-rate subsidy program, which is plagued by fraud and abuse. The FCC adopted, but did not release, this item at its April 23, 2003 meeting.
See, story titled "FCC Announces Order and NPRM Regarding E-Rate Subsidies" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 648, April 24, 2003.
This document states that "As part of our ongoing efforts to limit waste, fraud, and abuse, we adopt rules to prevent bad actors from receiving benefits associated with the schools and libraries mechanism. In particular, we conclude that anyone convicted of a criminal violation or found civilly liable for actions relating to this program shall be debarred from participation for three years, absent extraordinary circumstances."
It further states that "we amend section 54.500 of our rules to clarify the meaning of educational purposes. Pursuant to this requirement, the Administrator has denied requests for services to be used by support staff not involved in instructional activities. We reiterate our recognition that the technology needs of participants in the schools and libraries program are complex and unique to each participant. We find that, in the case of schools, activities that are integral, immediate, and proximate to the education of students, or in the case of libraries, integral, immediate, and proximate to the provision of library services to library patrons, qualify as educational purposes under this program."
This item also addresses the meaning of "educational use" and the 2001 "Alaska Order".
The relevant statute limits e-rate subsidies to "educational purposes". 47 U.S.C. § 254(h)(1)(B) provides in part that "All telecommunications carriers serving a geographic area shall, upon a bona fide request for any of its services that are within the definition of universal service under subsection (c)(3) of this section, provide such services to elementary schools, secondary schools, and libraries for educational purposes at rates less than the amounts charged for similar services to other parties."
The item also contains a new definition of "Educational Purposes". It states that "For purposes of this subpart, activities that are integral, immediate, and proximate to the education of students, or in the case of libraries, integral, immediate and proximate to the provision of library services to library patrons, qualify as "educational purposes." Activities that occur on library or school property are presumed to be integral, immediate, and proximate to the education of students or the provision of library services to library patrons."
On November 29, 2001, the FCC adopted an Order [PDF] that permits certain schools and libraries in the state of Alaska that receive e-rate subsidies to allow their facilities to be used by the general public to receive telecommunications and Internet services. See also, notice in the Federal Register, December 28, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 249, at Pages 67112 - 67114). This is FCC 01-350 in CC Docket No. 96-45. See also, story titled "FCC Allows E-Rate Funds to Support Non Educational Uses" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 336, December 31, 2001.
The just released item states that the Alaska order applies only to non-educational uses in Alaska. It states that "This clarification, however, is not intended to allow the general public to use services and facilities obtained through this support mechanism for non-educational purposes. In the Alaska Order, the Commission granted the State of Alaska a limited waiver of section 54.504(b)(2)(ii) of the Commission’s rules, allowing members of rural remote communities in Alaska that lack local or toll-free dial-up access to the Internet to use excess service obtained through the support mechanism, when the services are not in use by the schools and libraries. The clarification we adopt today does not affect the terms of Alaska’s waiver or allow schools or libraries outside the scope of that waiver to provide services to the general public in that manner."
Comments will be due 30 days, and reply comments will be due 45 days, after publication in the Federal Register. The FCC has not yet published it notice in the Federal Register.
Snow Wants Iraq to Focus on Intellectual Property Rights
4/30. Treasury Secretary
John Snow testified before the
on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs regarding the Department of the Treasury's FY 2004 budget for foreign operations. He addressed, among other topics, reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said in his prepared testimony that "Development regarding of a system of commercial law, founded on a base of private property rights, is an essential element of developing a market-based economy in Iraq. For this reason, we believe there are several areas in which the Iraqi people will need to focus, ranging from dealing with real estate and personal property to intellectual property rights."
He added that "These will also include establishing the legal framework for corporations, the banking system, and capital markets. Given the reach of commercial law, more than just Treasury will be involved in assisting this effort; it will also include the Departments of State, Justice, Commerce, and USAID. However, each of us recognizes the importance of creating a free market economy in the country, and development of a sound framework of commercial law is key to this goal."
GAO Recommends Integration of Watch List Data
4/30. The General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report [84 pages in PDF] titled "Information Technology: Terrorist Watch Lists Should Be Consolidated to Promote Better Integration and Sharing".
The report states that "the federal government's approach to using watch lists in performing its border security mission is decentralized and nonstandard, largely because these lists were developed in response to individual agencies' unique missions, including their respective legal, cultural, and systems environments."
It continues that "These lists include overlapping but not identical sets of data, and different policies and procedures govern whether and how these data are shared with others. As a general rule, this sharing is more likely to occur among federal agencies than between federal agencies and either state and local government agencies or private entities. Further, the extent to which such sharing is accomplished electronically is constrained by fundamental differences in the watch lists’ systems architecture (that is, the hardware, software, network, and data characteristics of the systems)." (Parentheses in original.)
The concludes that "To strengthen our nation’s homeland security capability, we are recommending that the Secretary of DHS take a series of steps aimed at ensuring that watch lists are appropriately and effectively standardized, consolidated, and shared."
6th Circuit Rules Cable Act Provides No Private Right of Action for Landowners
4/30. The U.S. Court of Appeals (6thCir) issued its opinion in Heydon v. MediaOne, a dispute regarding a cable company's access to electric utility poles. The Appeals Court affirmed the District Court's dismissal, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, of a homeowner's complaint for trespass and for declaratory relief under the Cable Communications Policy Act.
Background. Paul and Henrietta Heydon own rural property in the state of Michigan. About 70 years ago, Detroit Edison erected utility poles on the property to provide electricity. Without permission form the Heydon's, a contractor for the MediaOne subsidiary entered the property to add fiber optic cables to these poles. The contractor damaged the Heydon's property.
The Heydon's filed a complaint in state court alleging common law trespass, common law negligence, and statutory damage to land. They also sought an injunction barring MediaOne from entering their property. They later dismissed their state court action.
District Court. The Heydon's also filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (EDMich) against MediaOne. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief. They sought a declaration that the Cable Act does not permit MediaOne to enter their property, or access the electric utility poles, and an injunction against entering their property to install cable. They also sought compensation under the Cable Act.
They did not raise the Pole Attachments Act, 47 U.S.C. § 224.
The District Court dismissed their federal complaint for lack of jurisdiction. This appeal followed.
Appeals Court. The Appeals Court affirmed the dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. It first noted that jurisdiction could not be based upon diversity of citizenship, because the Heydons are Michigan citizens, and the MediaOne subsidiary is a Michigan corporation.
Second, the Court held that the Declaratory Judgment Act cannot serve as the basis for federal question jurisdiction. It wrote that "The Declaratory Judgment Act does not create an independent basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction. ... The Act only provides courts with discretion to fashion a remedy. ... Thus, before invoking the Act, the court must have jurisdiction already." (Citations omitted.)
Finally, the Court held that the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. § 541, cannot serve as the basis for federal question jurisdiction in this action.
The Court wrote that "the Cable Act does not provide a private cause of action to a private landowner to exclude a cable company from its land. Congress passed the Cable Act as a compromise, balancing ``the public's right to free flowing information, the local government's interest in franchising and regulating cable operators, the cable industry's desire for growth and stability, and the potential of satellite television to offer valuable competition.´´ ... The main purpose of the Cable Act was the desire to ``establish franchise procedures and standards which encourage the growth and development of cable systems.´´" (Citations omitted.)
The Court also ruled that MediaOne's raising the Cable Act as a defense does not create federal jurisdiction.
More Court Opinions
4/30. The U.S. Court of Appeals (3rdCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Schlumberger v. Cellnet, a case involving intellectual property rights and bankruptcy proceedings. The Appeals Court affirmed the District Court. It offered this summary: "This appeal presents us with an issue of first impression involving elections under 11 U.S.C. § 365(n). CellNet Data Systems, Inc. sold its intellectual property to Schlumberger Resource Management Services, Inc., which specifically excluded the assets and liabilities of certain licensing agreements under the terms of the sale. After CellNet rejected those licensing agreements under 11 U.S.C. § 365(a) of the bankruptcy code, the licensee exercised its rights under § 365(n) to continue to use the intellectual property, subject to the royalty payments due under the original license. Both CellNet, as party to the contract, and Schlumberger, as holder of the intellectual property, claim the right to receive the royalty payments. The District Court determined that Schlumberger had expressly severed the royalties from the intellectual property by the terms of the purchase agreement and that the royalties remained in CellNet’s estate. Although CellNet then rejected the license, the licensee, by operation of § 365(n), elected to enforce the license and thus the District Court concluded that the royalties due under the revived contract belonged to CellNet. We will affirm."
People and Appointments
4/30. President Bush announced his intent to nominate Thomas O'Connell to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. He is currently a Member of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee task forces. He is also currently Senior Manager for Raytheon for Intelligence and Information Systems. Before that, he was Advanced Projects Manager in the Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Division of Chrysler. 10 U.S.C. § 138 provides, in part, that "There are eight Assistant Secretaries of Defense, appointed from civilian life by the President ... One of the Assistant Secretaries shall be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. He shall have as his principal duty the overall supervision ... of special operations activities ..." 10 U.S.C. § 167(j), in turn, provides, in part, that "special operations activities include each of the following insofar as it relates to special operations: (1) Direct action. (2) Strategic reconnaissance. (3) Unconventional warfare. (4) Foreign internal defense. (5) Civil affairs. (6) Psychological operations. (7) Counterterrorism. (8) Humanitarian assistance. (9) Theater search and rescue. (10) Such other activities as may be specified by the President or the Secretary of Defense." See, White House release.
4/30. The National Telecommunications and Information Adminstration (NTIA) announced the recipients of $25 Million in grants under the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP), which assists in the digital conversion of public television. See, list of digital television grants.
4/30. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the House Financial Services Committee. See, prepared testimony.
4/30. Nortel Networks and Redback Networks announced that they have settled their patent litigation. Nortel holds U.S. Patent Nos. 4,667,324 titled "Network multiplex structure", 4,736,363 titled "Path oriented routing system and method for packet switching networks", and 5,608,733 titled "ATM inverse multiplexing", and 6,205,142 titled "Inverse multiplexing of digital data". Redback filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (NDCal) against Nortel seeking declaratory judgment of invalidity, unenforceability and noninfringement. Nortel counterclaimed, alleging infringement. Nortel stated in a release that "As part of the settlement, Nortel Networks and Redback entered into a patent cross-licensing agreement. This agreement also includes a license from Nortel Networks to Redback for the U.S. patents that were listed in the lawsuit ... Under the agreement, Redback will also pay Nortel Networks an undisclosed fee." This is D.C. No. C02-00361.
4/30. A group of musicians wrote a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell regarding the FCC's media ownership proceeding. The group wrote that "We are writing to insist that Congress and the public have a full opportunity to review and comment on any specific changes that the Commission intends to make in the biennial review of media ownership rules before such rules are issued in final form." They added that "As musicians, recording artists, citizens and small business owners we are uniquely qualified to comment on the increased consolidation of the radio dial since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. We write to you today to emphasize that this period of consolidation has had far-reaching negative repercussions on our ability to gain access to the public airwaves and to make a living." Many of the signatories of the letter are aging rockers long past the peak of their popularity, such as Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett, David Crosby, Neil Diamond, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, and Patti Smith.
4/30. A group of academics wrote a letter [MS Word] to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell regarding the FCC's media ownership proceeding. They wrote that, "According to reports, the Commission is developing a "diversity index" that will serve as a form of universal measurement on media ownership. Such a measure, we understand, will be used to analyze individual media markets in order to determine whether cross-ownership limits should be eliminated, modified, or maintained." The added that "We have grave doubts that any single measure can effectively analyze the complexities of the media marketplace, in terms of its impact on journalism, citizen access to information, and competition." They also urged the FCC to "release to the public any proposed such measures in advance of their enactment."
Virginia Makes Sending Certain Spam a Felony
4/29. Virginia Governor Mark Warner signed Virginia HB 2290, sponsored by Delegate Jeannemarie Devolites, and SB 1139, sponsored by Senator Ken Stolle, which make it a felony to send certain unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE) messages.
This legislation provides that it is a class 6 felony if a person either "1. Uses a computer or computer network with the intent to falsify or forge electronic mail transmission information or other routing information in any manner in connection with the transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail through or into the computer network of an electronic mail service provider or its subscribers; or 2. Knowingly sells, gives, or otherwise distributes or possesses with the intent to sell, give, or distribute software that (i) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of facilitating or enabling the falsification of electronic mail transmission information or other routing information; (ii) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to facilitate or enable the falsification of electronic mail transmission information or other routing information; or (iii) is marketed by that person acting alone or with another for use in facilitating or enabling the falsification of electronic mail transmission information or other routing information is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor", and either "1. The volume of UBE transmitted exceeded 10,000 attempted recipients in any 24-hour period, 100,000 attempted recipients in any 30-day time period, or one million attempted recipients in any one-year time period; or 2. The revenue generated from a specific UBE transmission exceeded $1,000 or the total revenue generated from all UBE transmitted to any EMSP exceeded $50,000."
The bill also pertains to computer fraud, computer trespass, theft of computer services, and personal trespass by computer.
Gov. Warner (at right) signed the bill at a signing ceremony at America Online. He stated that "Half the world’s Internet traffic passes through the Commonwealth of Virginia, so it is appropriate that we give our prosecutors tools to go after this costly and annoying crime". See, release.
Robert Woltz, President of Verizon Virginia, stated in a release that "Virginia is taking a bold step to add new teeth to legislation to combat the growing problem of unsolicited bulk e-mail, or 'spam.' No longer can spammers hide behind false identities without risking criminal charges. Today's groundbreaking legislation gives Internet service providers, like Verizon Online and AOL, more muscle to enforce user contracts that prohibit the use of their networks to deliver large quantities of unwanted e-mail." See also, AOL release.
FTC Finds that Two Thirds of Spam Messages Contain False Information
4/29. The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Division of Marketing Practices released a report [16 pages in PDF] titled "False Claims in Spam". The FTC studied a random sample of about one thousand unsolicited commercial e-mail messages, and found that two-thirds contain false information.
The FTC report found that "One-third of the spam messages contained false information in the ``From´´ line." It also found that "Twenty-two percent of UCE in the sample contained false information in the ``Subject´´ line". Finally, it found that "Approximately 40% of the messages had at least one indication of falsity" in the text of the message.
And altogether, the report found that "Sixty-six percent of spam analyzed by FTC staff contained indications of falsity in their ``From´´ lines, ``Subject´´ lines, or message text." See also, FTC release.
The FTC released this report on the eve of its three day public workshop on spam in Washington DC on April 30 through May 2. See, agenda [4 pages in PDF].
House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Internet Gambling Bills
4/29. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime held a hearing on HR 21, the "Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act", sponsored by Rep. James Leach (R-IA), and HR 1223, the "Internet Gambling Licensing and Regulation Commission Act".
Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) said in his opening statement that "Federal law is currently unclear as to whether or not all types of Internet gambling is illegal. The statute that most directly restricts the use of the Internet to place bets is the ``Wire Act´´ under section 1084 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. However, because this statute was written before the age of the Internet and the use of wireless communication, there is ambiguity as to what type of betting is or is not covered. Also, the types of gambling mentioned in the statute may not cover all of the different types of gambling available on the Internet."
The hearing addressed two approaches. The Leach approach would attempt to functionally bar internet gambling by prohibiting the use of financial instruments, such as credit cards, in any transaction involving illegal internet gambling. The Conyers bill would establish a commission to study the feasibility of regulating internet gambling. The Congress has already established, and received the report from, another commission. The Leach approach is HR 21 in the House, and S 627 in the Senate.
Rep. Coble (at right) spoke with reporters after the hearing. He stated that he leans towards the Leach approach. He elaborated that his reason was best expressed by Merle Haggard in the song titled "Kentucky Gambler". The final line is "And it seems to me a gambler loses much more than he wins; much more than he wins."
Rep. Leach, who is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, testified as a witness. He stated, as he has at prior hearings, that this is a moral and social issue. He also argued that this is a "jobs" issue, because internet gambling drains money out of the economy to offshore operations, but unlike the casino gambling industry, provides no jobs in the U.S. He also argued that this is a money laundering issue.
He argued that "Gambling in general and Internet gambling in particular provide one the most accessible platforms for money laundering. Money launderers tend to seek out areas where there is a low risk of detection by law enforcement. Internet gambling is a particularly attractive method to launder money because of the heightened level of anonymity and a virtual lack of governmental regulation. Nearly 80 percent of the $10 billion in revenue generated by Internet gambling sites is impossible to account for, since most operators are located in the Caribbean and other jurisdiction with loose regulatory structures and limited financial reporting requirements."
Jeffrey Modisett, an attorney in the Los Angeles office of the law firm of Bryan Cave, stated in his prepared testimony that he prefers the Conyers approach. He argued that the Leach approach "is likely to be ineffective" because gamblers will migrate to other forms of payment. He also rebutted Rep. Leach's arguments regarding money laundering. He asserted that credit card transactions are transparent, while other forms of payment are not.
He stated that "the majority of Internet wagers are placed by credit cards, and credit card transactions are almost always transparent. I do not believe that the Leach bill will stop Americans from gambling on the Internet; however, I do believe it will change the manner in which they do so. If Internet gamblers cannot use their credit cards, many (perhaps most) of them will instead opt for e-cash accounts, electronic funds transfers, wire transfers to accounts at offshore banks, and other less visible means to settle their accounts." (Parentheses in original.) He concluded that "To the extent that there is a potential for money laundering in the Internet gaming space, creating a market for less transparent payment solutions will presumably make illicit activities, including money laundering, substantially worse."
William Hornbuckle of MGM Mirage also opposed the Leach approach. He stated in his prepared testimony that internet gambling is ubiquitous and impossible to control.
John Malcolm, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, also testified. He is in charge of the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS). He stated in his prepared testimony that "The Department of Justice generally supports the efforts of the drafters of H.R. 21 and S. 627 to enable law enforcement to cut off the transfer of funds to and from illegal Internet gambling businesses. With respect to H.R. 1223, the Department has concerns, which I shall address below, about the feasibility and desirability of regulating Internet gambling."
He also analyzed the money laundering issue. He said that "Another major concern that the Department of Justice has about on-line gambling is that such businesses provide criminals with an easy and excellent vehicle for money laundering. This is due in large part to the cash-intensive nature of the industry, the fact that most Internet gambling sites are located offshore, and the volume, speed, and international reach of Internet transactions."
He added that "On-line casinos are a particularly inviting target because, in addition to using the gambling that on-line casinos offer as a way to hide or transfer money, on-line casinos offer a broad array of financial services to their customers, such as providing credit accounts, fund transmittal services, check cashing services, and currency exchange services." He also said that "The anonymous nature of the Internet and the use of encryption make it difficult to trace the transactions".
Malcolm also offered some criticisms of specific provisions of HR 21. For example, he testified that "the Justice Department opposes Section 3(c)(4)(B) of H.R. 21, which provides, in essence, that interactive service providers that are not liable under H.R. 21 shall not be liable under Section 1084 of Title 18, United States Code, unless the ISP has actual knowledge of the bets and wagers and owns, controls, operates, manages, supervises, or directs a website at which unlawful bets or wagers are offered, placed, or received. This provision constructively amends Section 1084, an existing federal criminal statute, and weakens its application by imposing a far higher standard of liability than traditional aiding and abetting liability, which applies to everyone else who must comply with the law." He added that "ISPs should be singled out for uniquely favorable treatment".
The Crime Subcommittee has scheduled a meeting for 4:00 PM on Tuesday, May 6, to mark up HR 21, the Leach bill.
House Commerce Committee Subpoenas USAC for E-Rate Records
4/29. The House Commerce Committee announced that it has issued a subpoena to Cheryl Parrino, the CEO of the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), for unredacted records.
The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) USAC administers the schools and libraries program, which is also known as the e-rate. The program was created by the FCC after enactment of the Telecom Act of 1996 under the rubric of Section 254, which codifies the FCC's universal service programs. Under the e-rate program, phone companies are taxed, to enable the USAC to provides subsidies to schools and libraries for telecommunications services, internet access, and internal wiring.
The program is plagued by fraud and abuse. The House Commerce Committee, which has oversight responsibilities regarding the FCC, is investigating.
The House Commerce Committee originally wrote a a letter to Parrino on March 13, 2003, requesting records. The Committee stated in a release on April 29 that "Following the Committee's initial request for documents, USAC submitted thousands of pages of records. However, many of those documents contained information which had been omitted because of concerns over confidentiality."
Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Chairman of the Committee, stated that "This information is important for us to obtain if we are going to be successful in eliminating fraud and abuse in the E-rate program. I have asked Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman James Greenwood (R-PA) to hold hearings on this problem. Those hearings should begin this summer".
In addition, on April 23, 2003, the FCC adopted, but did not release, a Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding its e-rate subsidy program. The FCC issued two short press releases. See, press release [2 pages in PDF] regarding this order and NPRM, and press release [PDF] regarding the e-rate program.
The FCC stated that it seeks comments on "1) the feasibility of an online computerized eligible services list for telecommunications services and Internet access, 2) procedures implementing the FCC’s decision to carry forward unused funds from the program in subsequent funding years, and 3) whether to expand the circumstances under which persons may be debarred from involvement in the program, including debarment for willful or repeated violators of FCC rules."
Attorney General Releases Annual FISA Report
4/29. Attorney General John Ashcroft submitted the
report [2 paragraphs] to the Administrative Office
of the U.S. Courts. It states that 1228 applications were made, and that ultimately, all 1228 were granted.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), at 50 U.S.C. § 1807, provides that "In April of each year, the Attorney General shall transmit to the Administrative Office of the United States Court and to Congress a report setting forth with respect to the preceding calendar year (a) the total number of applications made for orders and extensions of orders approving electronic surveillance under this subchapter; and (b) the total number of such orders and extensions either granted, modified, or denied."
Ashcroft (at right) wrote, in relevant part, that "During calendar year 2002, 1228 applications were made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for electronic surveillance and physical search. The Court initially approved 1226 applications in 2002. Two applications were ``approved as modified,´´ and the United States appealed these applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, as applications having been denied in part. On November 18, 2002, the Court of Review issued a judgment that ``ordered and adjudged that the motions for review be granted, the challenged portions of the orders on review be reversed, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's Rule 11 be vacated, and the cases be remanded with instructions to grant the United States' applications as submitted ...´´ Accordingly, all 1228 applications presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2002 were approved."
See also, November 18, 2002, opinion [PDF] of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.
The reporting requirements imposed upon the Department of Justice (DOJ) by the FISA are minimal. On February 25, 2003, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced S 436, the "Domestic Surveillance Oversight Act of 2003". The bill would increase the public reporting requirements of the DOJ regarding its implementation of the FISA.
The bill would require that "the Attorney General shall issue a public report setting forth with respect to the preceding calendar year (1) the aggregate number of United States persons targeted for orders issued under this Act, including those targeted for ... electronic surveillance ..." and "pen registers". It would also require public reporting of the number of times that information acquired through FISA orders is authorized for use by the Attorney General in criminal proceedings.
See also, TLJ stories titled "Senators Introduce Domestic Surveillance Oversight Act" and "Senators Release Report on FISA Implementation", TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 612, February 26, 2003.
People and Appointments
4/29. Scott Delacourt was named Chief of Staff and Associate Bureau Chief of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB). He was previously Senior Counsel in the Office of General Counsel, where he worked on wireless, international, engineering and technology, consumer, governmental affairs, and enforcement issues. Before that, he was Legal Advisor to former Bureau Chief Tom Sugrue. And before that, he was an attorney at the Washington DC law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding. See, FCC release [PDF].
4/29. President Bush announced his intent to appoint John Gordon to be Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Advisor. He is currently Deputy Assistant to the President, National Director and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism. He is also a former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. He retired from the Air Force with the rank of General. See, White House release.
4/29. The Senate confirmed Jeffrey Sutton to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by a vote of 52-41. See, Roll Call No. 135. The vote broke down along party lines. All of the votes in favor came from Republicans, except that Sen. Ben Nelson (R-NE) also voted in favor. All of the votes against came from Democrats. The Democratic presidential candidates -- Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) -- did not vote.
4/29. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) E911 Coordination Initiative held a meeting. See, statement [PDF] by Chairman Michael Powell, statement [PDF] by Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, and statement [PDF] by Commissioner Kevin Martin.
4/29. Thomas Lee, President of the American Federation of Musicians, stated in a release that "Starting immediately, a group of organizations representing musicians, artists, songwriters, music publishers, record labels and others will send copyright warning messages to individuals who offer significant numbers of copyrighted songs to others for illegal downloading on peer-to-peer networks. The messages will be sent via the peer-to-peer networks Instant Messaging functions."
4/29. Nancy Victory, Director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), gave a speech regarding broadband deployment at the NARUC/NECA convention in Washington DC. She asserted that "The Bush Administration has been working hard to encourage full and fair competition that leads to new investment in broadband networks by all industry segments, using a variety of technologies. We must remove barriers and open new opportunities for wired and wireless providers, incumbents and new entrants." She addressed rights of ways issues, the FCC's triennial review order, the spectrum relocation fund bill, and making more spectrum available for unlicensed uses. She spoke at a convention hosted by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA) titled "Second NARUC/NECA National Summit on Broadband Deployment: Accelerating the Transition". The title of her speech was "On the Path to Making the Broadband Vision a National Reality".
4/29. The General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report [37 pages in PDF] titled "Information Technology: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Enterprise Architecture Management (Version 1.1)".
Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Internet Jurisdiction Case
4/28. The Supreme Court denied certiorari, without opinion, in Healthgrades.com v. Northwest Healthcare Alliance, No. 02-1250. See, Order List [9 pages in PDF] at page 2. The denial lets stand an opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) holding that the U.S. District Court (WDWash) has personal jurisdiction over an out of state defendant in defamation case, based solely upon publication of the allegedly defamatory statements in an internet web site. See, full story.
Supreme Court Requests SG Brief in Cable Franchise Transfer Case
4/28. The Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief in Charter Communications v. Santa Cruz County, No. 02-1267. See, Order List [9 pages in PDF] at page 1. This case involves the authority of local franchising authorities over cable franchise transfers.
Santa Cruz County refused to consent to the transfer of a cable franchise. Charter Communications then filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (NDCal), and prevailed. (See, 133 F.Supp. 2d 1184.) Santa Cruz County appealed. On September 20, 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [13 pages in PDF] reversing the District Court. Charter Communications petitioned for writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court requests a brief regarding whether or not to grant certiorari.
Charter Communications is represented by Michael Waldman of the law firm of Fried Frank. The National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has also filed an amicus brief. See also, Supreme Court docket sheet.
FCC Releases NOI on Broadband Over Power Lines
4/28. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its Notice of Inquiry [21 pages in PDF] in its proceeding titled "In the Matter of Inquiry Regarding Carrier Current Systems, including Broadband over Power Line Systems".
The FCC announced, but did not release, this NOI at its April 23 meeting. See, story titled "FCC Announces NOI Regarding Broadband Over Powerlines", TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 648, April 24, 2003.
This Notice of Inquiry (NOI) states that broadband over power line (BPL) "systems use existing electrical power lines as a transmission medium to provide high-speed communications capabilities by coupling RF energy onto the power line. Because power lines reach virtually every community in the country, BPL could play an important role in providing additional competition in the offering of broadband infrastructure to the American home and consumers. In addition, BPL could bring Internet and high-speed broadband access to rural and underserved areas, which often are difficult to serve due to the high costs associated with upgrading existing infrastructure and interconnecting communication nodes with new technologies."
This NOI requests "information and technical data so that we may evaluate the current state of BPL technology and determine whether changes to Part 15 of the Commission’s rules are necessary to facilitate the deployment of this technology."
The NOI states that "BPL may be deployed under our existing Part 15 rules". It further states that the FCC's authority is based in part on Section 302 of the Communications Act. 47 U.S.C. § 302a provides, in part, that the FCC "may, consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, make reasonable regulations (1) governing the interference potential of devices which in their operation are capable of emitting radio frequency energy by radiation, conduction, or other means in sufficient degree to cause harmful interference to radio communications; and (2) establishing minimum performance standards for home electronic equipment and systems to reduce their susceptibility to interference from radio frequency energy. Such regulations shall be applicable to the manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale, or shipment of such devices and home electronic equipment and systems, and to the use of such devices."
Comments will be due 30 days, and reply comments will be due 45 days, after publication in the Federal Register. The FCC has not yet published its notice in the Federal Register, or otherwise set comment deadlines. This is ET Docket No. 03-104. For more information, contact Anh Wride at 202 418-0577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
USPTO Proposes Inter Partes Reexamination Rule Changes
4/28. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register of proposed changes to its rules of practice to implement the inter partes reexamination provisions, and other patent related provisions, enacted by the Congress late last year. They were included in HR 2215 (107th Congress), the "21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act", which President Bush signed on November 2, 2002.
The Act contains language permitting a third party requester in an inter partes reexamination proceeding to appeal a final decision by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) to the U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir), and to participate in the patent owner's appeal of a final decision by the BPAI to the Court of Appeals.
Comments are due by June 27, 2003. For more information, contact Kenneth Schor at 703 308-6710. See, Federal Register, April 28, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 81, at Pages 22343 - 22353.
Powell Discusses History of FCC Regulation
4/28. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell gave a speech [PDF] in which he offered a critical interpretation of the history of regulation by the FCC. He said that the FCC has traditionally stifled innovation and competition. But, he said, changes in technology and regulation are underway.
He stated that the regulatory authority of the FCC "seems to grow larger each day, despite all the spirited talk of deregulation." He added that "if an electron or photon glances off something carrying information, there is a good chance we regulate it."
He gave this interpretation of the history of broadcast regulation. "Government seized complete control of the airwaves and, in turn, passed licenses out as it saw fit to the worthy -- in effect controlling the supply of this critical commodity and serving as the guarantor of the public interest. The ``scarcity´´ of the spectrum became a justification for the government to demand that those who had it use it for the public interest. This has continually included some government meddling in broadcast content, a fate that newspapers thankfully have avoided."
He said that "Incumbents fight to retain their privileged place and special interest groups fight to maintain a regulatory system that gives them onestop shopping to force socially desirable outcomes. This ``clamoring supplicants approach´´ has riddled communications policy with political interests that masquerade as the public interest."
He continued that this "has led the government consistently to stifle change that would probably accrue to the enormous benefit of our citizens, but upset the time-honored rules of the game. Like the golf club at Augusta, new members were unwelcome for they might upset the unique chemistry of the place."
Powell then argued that this model of regulation is changing. "A digital migration has begun taking us from the old world -- marked by analog technologies, narrowband infrastructure, and the monopoly regulation model -- to the new world; marked by digital technologies, broadband infrastructure and a broader minded view of regulation, informed by listening to technology more than lobbyists. The changes brought forth by digital life will finally force a change in the decades old outlook of communications policy."
He added that "Just as the industry needs venture capital to finance this migration. We need venture policy to govern it -- one that is focused on building innovation platforms and empowering the consumer and citizens of our society."
Powell concluded with the observations that "Policy is made or affected by politicians. Yet the political system is optimal for giving voice to anxiety. A politician tends to respond to the worries and anxieties of the large incumbents, as well as the confusions and frustration of consumers. All of which will churn as we move down the path that technology has set out for us. We must try and make the transition smooth, but we must have the courage to stay the course and not throw regulations all over the emerging technology space in an effort to quell short-term anxiety, for like a wet blanket, it could smother the creative fire of this tech revolution."
Powell spoke to the Associated Press Annual Meeting and General Session of the National Newspaper Association Annual Convention.
The "Digital Broadband Migration" is a theme that Powell has addressed on several occasions. See especially, speech of December 8, 2000, titled "The Great Digital Broadband Migration", and speech of October 23, 2001, titled "Digital Broadband Migration Part II".
Commerce Department Official Discusses Policies Affecting Broadband Deployment
4/28. Bruce Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy, gave a speech on broadband policy at the NARUC/NECA conference being held in Washington DC on April 28th and 29th.
This was a variation of a speech that Mehlman has delivered on many occasions. He discussed broadband's potential uses, its economic benefits, and the bipartisan support for its deployment in Washington DC. He also stated that "the broadband revolution is alive and well", but that many "factors limit the growth of broadband or threaten its ability to fully transform society", including the regulatory environment, and limited consumer demand.
Mehlman (at right) said that "The telecom sector remains mired in debt, with excess long-haul capacity and regulatory uncertainty. While the recent FCC broadband ruling offers hope, many expect at least another decade of battles between those seeking lower prices for consumers and those seeking greater resources for the carriers who invest in networks. That will make for further tough sledding for regulators."
He added that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "has put tremendous effort toward improving regulatory certainty in the broadband realm, moving numerous proceedings since Chairman Powell assumed the lead. I was very encouraged by the technology industry’s strong support for the most recent ruling, which purports to adhere to the high tech broadband coalition’s recommendations entirely and which already seems to have motivated the biggest carrier (Verizon) to announce aggressive new deployment plans." (Parentheses in original.)
He then said that consumer demand is another reason of lack of ubiquitous use of broadband. He said that there is a "lack of perceived value based on the cost of broadband", "lack of perceived reliability", "lack of interest", and "lack of compelling content or killer applications".
He also repeated President Bush's statement that the U.S. needs to "be aggressive about the deployment of broadband", which is the only statement the President has made about broadband.
Mehlman also reviewed administration actions and policies that he stated promote broadband deployment, including fiscal policies, loan guarantees for broadband providers in more rural areas, increased spending on research and development by the government, support for making the R&D tax credit permanent, elimination of spectrum caps, support for making more spectrum available for unlicensed use, support for spectrum management policies that facilitate the development of Third Generation wireless services, working with the private sector to increase cyber security, and increased prosecution and civil enforcement of laws against ID theft, online fraud and piracy.
He also said that the federal government has not, and should not, "mandate technologies".
Mehlman spoke at a conference hosted by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA) titled "Second NARUC/NECA National Summit on Broadband Deployment: Accelerating the Transition". He gave his speech a long title: "The Broadband Revolution is Alive & Well ... And Coming Soon to a Home, Neighborhood, Office, School, Hotel, Airport, Airplane, Coffee House and College Campus Near You (If It’s Not Already There)".
Export Regulation Official Addresses Hong Kong Technology Trade
4/28. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) chief export controls official, Kenneth Juster, gave a speech in Washington DC. He first addressed globalization, terrorism, and communications technology. He also reviewed the U.S. export controls regime as it pertain to Hong Kong. He said that "Hong Kong must continue to ensure that the integrity and autonomy of its customs territory" in order to continue to receive preferential treatment.
Juster (at right) is the Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security. He is the head of the Bureau of Industry and Security, which is still known by its former, and more descriptive, name, Bureau of Export Administration (BXA). He spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' conference titled "Asian Security and Hong Kong's Role in the War on Global Terrorism".
Terrorism and Technology. He said that "globalization brings with it not just potential benefits, but also significant threats and vulnerabilities. It is now clear that problems, which may once have been contained to a single country or region of the world, can today spread rapidly throughout the world -- whether by electronic and financial networks, by an integrated global transportation system, or by our increasingly efficient trading system."
He added that "The challenge of confronting and preventing terrorism in today's world is made all the more difficult by the very attributes of our societies -- our openness, the integrated nature of our transportation systems and information networks, and the widespread availability of technology. The same technology and communication networks that are essential for modern trade and commerce are also used by global terrorist networks to advance their nefarious goals worldwide."
Export Controls and Hong Kong. He said that the BIS (or BXA) "is responsible for administering and enforcing U.S. export controls on ``dual-use´´ goods and technologies. ``Dual-use´´ items are those that have both a legitimate commercial use and a use in the development or production of advanced conventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction."
He continued that "Under the U.S. ``dual-use´´ export control regime, Hong Kong enjoys a special status. This derives from Hong Kong having been a British dependent territory prior to its unification with China in 1997. Today, under the ``one country, two systems´´ model established in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and formally recognized under both U.S. and Chinese law, many items that are controlled for export to China -- such as high performance computers, certain telecommunications equipment, and certain semiconductor testing equipment and materials -- do not require a license for export to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This special treatment for Hong Kong is based on the continued autonomy of Hong Kong’s customs territory from China, as well as the strong support of the United States for the values that Hong Kong represents in Asia -- open markets, free trade, and the rule of law."
He cautioned Hong Kong that "To maintain this favorable and preferential status in the U.S. export control system, Hong Kong must continue to ensure that the integrity and autonomy of its customs territory is not compromised and that its actions do not undermine the reality or the perception that Hong Kong is separate from Mainland China. This will be especially challenging in light of Hong Kong's plans for increased economic integration with China, for streamlining border controls with China and co-locating customs facilities, and for negotiating a free trade agreement with China. Any weakening of Hong Kong’s autonomy would cast doubt on the rationale for its special status under the U.S. export control system."
He noted that, "Much to its credit, Hong Kong has put in place a world-class system of export controls relating to strategic trade, and has repeatedly emphasized its commitment to maintaining the effectiveness of this system."
However, he added that "A world-class export control system by itself, however, is not sufficient. In order to prevent the diversion of sensitive goods and technologies, export control laws and regulations must be vigorously enforced. Hong Kong has long cooperated with the United States on export enforcement matters, and we want to continue and enhance that cooperation."
Comment Period Closes in FCC's Plug and Play Cable Compatibility Rulemaking Proceeding
4/28. Monday, April 28, was the deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) regarding a proposed set of rules pertaining to "plug and play" cable compatibility.
On December 19, 2002, fourteen consumer electronics companies and seven cable operators announced that they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding a national plug and play standard between digital television (DTV) products and digital cable systems. See, document [78 pages in PDF] consisting of the MOU, proposed rules to be promulgated by the FCC, and a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell and others. See also, FCC release [MS Word] of January 7 announcing the FNPRM, and notice in the Federal Register, January 16, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 11, at Pages 2278 - 2283. This is CS Docket 97-80, and PP Docket 00-67.
See, for example, reply comments [32 pages in PDF] submitted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), reply comments [21 pages in PDF] submitted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), reply comments [68 pages in PDF] submitted by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), reply comments [22 pages in PDF] submitted by the Comcast, reply comments [PDF] submitted by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and others, reply comments [PDF] submitted by the Philips Electronics, and reply comments [18 pages PDF] submitted by Veridian Corporation.
And see, reply comments [PDF] submitted by the Home Recording Rights Association (HRRA), reply comments [HTML] submitted by thePublic Knowledge and Consumers Union, and reply comments [8 pages in PDF] submitted by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
See also, story titled "FCC Seeks Comments on Cable TV Plug and Play MOU" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 581, January 13, 2003.
People and Appointments
4/28. President Bush nominated Frank Libutti to be Under Secretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Joe Whitley to be General Counsel of the DHS, and Gregory Mankiw to be a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers. See, White House release. President Bush had previously announced that he would make each of these nominations.
4/28. President Bush nominated Claude Allen and Allyson Duncan to be a Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Allen is the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the Department of HHS. Before that he was the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Duncan is a partner in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of the law firm of Kilpatrick Stockton, and President Elect of the North Carolina Bar Association. She was previously a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She was also Executive Assistant to Justice Clarence Thomas when he was Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See, White House release.
4/28. President Bush announced his intent to nominate Michael Fisher and Judge Jay Waldman to be Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Fischer is Attorney General of Pennsylvania. Waldman is a Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. See, White House release.
4/28. President Bush announced several nominations to the U.S. District Court: Robert Brack (District of New Mexico), James Browning (District of New Mexico), Glen Conrad (Western District of Virginia), Robert Conrad (Western District of North Carolina), Mark Filip (Northern District of Illinois), Kim Gibson (Western District of Pennsylvania), Dora Irizarry (Eastern District of New York), Brent McKnight (Western District of North Carolina), Daniel Ryan (Eastern District of Michigan), Gary Sharpe (Northern District of New York), and Lonny Suko (Eastern District of Washington). See, White House release.
4/28. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced S 925, the "Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2004 ", a bill to authorize appropriations for the Department of State for fiscal year 2004 and for the Peace Corps for fiscal years 2004 through 2007. This is a huge bill; only a few sections are technology related. See, Section 111 pertaining to "International Broadcasting Activities" and Section 810 pertaining to the "Middle East Broadcasting Network". See also, Section 612 pertaining to the "Expansion of Educational and Cultural Activities" which provides, "BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE -- The Secretary is authorized to establish a program to help foster access to information technology among underserved populations and civil society groups in eligible countries." The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
4/28. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) announced that she intends to introduce a bill titled the "Restrict and Eliminate Delivery of Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (REDUCE) Spam Act". The bill would require marketers to label bulk commercial e-mail as “ADV:” and bulk adult spam as “ADV:ADLT.” It would require marketers to establish a valid return e-mail address, and allow recipients to opt-out of receiving further e-mails. It would prohibit marketers from sending any further e-mail to persons who have opted out. It would ban misleading routing information or deceptive subject headings in bulk commercial e-mail. It would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) civil enforcement authority. See, Lofgren release.
4/28. The University of Southern California hosted an event titled "Media Consolidation Forum". Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael Copps attended and spoke at the event. See, Copps release [2 pages in PDF].
4/28. The Supreme Court denied certiorari in Advanced Communication Design v. Premier Retail Networks, No. 02-1254. See, Order List [9 pages in PDF] at page 2. This is a petition for writ of certiorari from the U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) in a patent infringement case. See also, Supreme Court docket sheet.
4/28. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) released a report [30 pages in PDF] titled "Enum: Mapping Telephone Numbers Onto The Internet Potential Benefits with Public Policy Risks". It states that "ENUM's potential benefits also bring risks in terms of privacy and other public policy concerns. The simplest implementation of ENUM envisions that individuals' personal contact information (such as telephone numbers and e-mail addresses) will be stored in special records located in the Domain Name System (or DNS) of the global Internet. Because the DNS is publicly available, the use of ENUM could significantly compromise the privacy of its users." See also, executive summary.
4/28. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report [24 pages in PDF] titled "Faces of Trade with Singapore: Small Business Success Stories". The report states that the U.S. Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will offer "U.S. firms increased access to the Singapore market and landmark intellectual property protections, which will serve as a model for other agreements throughout the ASEAN region." Much of the report is a series of short case studies of small U.S. companies that will benefit from the FTA. Three of the companies are JSmart Technologies, which develops and publishes games for mobile phones, Sirsi Corporation, which provides software and services to libraries, and Rogen International Limited, which is a communications consultancy.
Go to News from April 21-25, 2003.