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Tech Law Journal
Daily E-Mail Alert
Sept. 27, 2000
9:00 AM ET.
Alert No. 29.

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News Briefs

9/26. The Supreme Court of the U.S. declined to hear a direct appeal of the Final Judgment in the Microsoft antitrust case. The appeal will instead go first to the U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir). The Department of Justice had sought a direct appeal, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 29(b). Also, U.S. District Court Judge Jackson issued an Order certifying the Microsoft case for direct consideration by the Supreme Court. (See, S.C.U.S. Nos. 00-139 and 00-261.)
9/26. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued a per curiam order [PDF] on its own motion, promptly after the Supreme Court's order, that Microsoft "file a motion to govern further proceedings herein, including a proposed briefing schedule and format, by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, October 2, 2000. Any responses are to be filed by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 5, and any reply by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 10." The Order also consolidated the appeals of the judgments in the Department of Justice and state cases (which were consolidated in the trial court). (See, U.S.C.A. Case No. 00-5212.)
9/26. The House Judiciary Committee approved HR 5018, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 2000, after a lengthy mark up session. The bill, as adopted, would amend the criminal code in several ways. (1) It would extend the statutory exclusionary rule for wiretaps (18 U.S.C. § 2515) to also include electronic communications and "any stored electronic communication that has been disclosed." (2) It would also require judges to make certain reports to the Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S. Courts regarding "disclosure of stored electronic communications", and further require the AO to make annual reports to the Congress. (3) It would require that pen register and trap and trace orders not be issued for e-mail addresses, "unless the court finds that specific and articulable facts reasonably indicate that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed, and information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an investigation of that crime ..." (4) It would prohibit the government from using cell phones as tracking devices without probable cause. (5) It would add several provisions regarding computer crimes. See, Tech Law Journal Summary of HR 5018.
9/26. It is unlikely that HR 5018 will be enacted into law in the 106th Congress, which could adjourn as early as its target adjournment date of Oct. 6. Two other House Judiciary Committee bills long thought to be stalled may yet be amended and passed by the full House: HR 3125, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, and HR 2100, the Antitampering Act.
9/26. The FCC's Office of Plans and Policy (OPP) released a paper titled "The Digital Handshake: Connecting Internet Backbones." [See, Text, MS Word, and PDF versions.] The paper, authored by Michael Kende, Director of Internet Policy Analysis in the Office of Plans and Policy, examines the interconnection arrangements between Internet backbone providers. It concludes that "competition, governed by antitrust laws and competition enforcement that can prevent the emergence of a dominant firm, can act to restrain the actions of larger backbones in place of any industry-specific regulations, such as interconnection obligations. If a dominant backbone provider should emerge through unforeseen circumstances, however, regulation may be necessary, as it has been in other network industries." See also, FCC release and summary.
9/26. The FTC closed its investigation of Intel. Richard Parker, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition sent a letter to Intel which stated: "Upon further review of this matter, it now appears that no further action is warranted by the Commission at this time. Accordingly, pursuant to authority delegated by the Commission, the investigation has been closed." See, Intel release. See also, Tech Law Journal Summary of FTC Antitrust Action Against Intel. (In the Matter of Intel Corporation, FTC Docket No. 9288.)
9/26. The USPTO issued a release regarding its recent rule changes, known as the Changes to Implement the Patent Business Goals: Final Rule [PDF], which were published in the Federal Register on Sept. 8. (See, Vol. 65, No. 175.) According to the USPTO, the purposes of the rule changes are "to increase the level of service to the public by raising the efficiency and effectiveness of the Office’s business processes. In furtherance of the Patent Business Goals, the Office is changing the rules of practice to eliminate unnecessary formal requirements, streamline the patent application process, and simplify and clarify the provisions of the rules of practice."
9/26. The FCC released its annual summary titled Telecommunications Industry Revenues: 1999 [31 pages in PDF]. It reports that telecommunications industry revenues were $269 Billion in 1999, up 9% from 1998. Wireless revenues increased 30%, from $37 Billion in 1998 to $48 Billion in 1999. Competive local phone companies' revenues increased 60%, to more than $5 Billion. See also, release.
9/26. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) named Bill Belt to be its  Director of Technical and Regulatory Affairs. He will coordinate activities for TIA's Wireless Communications Division. See, release.
9/26. The House Ways and Means Committee's Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on the tax code and the New Economy. See, Tech Law Journal story.
Editor's Note: This column includes all News Briefs added to Tech Law Journal since the last Daily E-Mail Alert. The dates indicate when the event occurred, not the date of posting to Tech Law Journal.
New TLJ Stories

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the Tax Code and the New Economy. (9/26) The House Ways and Means Committee's Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on the tax code and the New Economy on September 26. Depreciation periods, tax incentives for worker training, and the R&D tax credit were discussed.
New Documents

USCA: Order re further proceeding in the Microsoft antitrust case, 9/26 (PDF, USCA).
FCC: The Digital Handshake: Connecting Internet Backbones, 9/26 (PDF, FCC).
FCC: Telecommunications Industry Revenues: 1999, 9/26 (PDF, FCC).
Verizon: Address by Ivan Seidenburg at National Press Club, 9/25 (HTML, Verizon).
New and Updated Sections

Calendar (updated daily).
News from Around the Web (updated daily).
Quote of the Day

"Rather than being boundary-less, the regulatory view of communications is based on geography - specifically, close to 200 artificially defined "local calling areas" not found in any atlas - and governed by 50 different state regulatory commissions, countless municipalities, and an alphabet soup of federal agencies. Rather than being seamless, the industry as viewed by regulation is a collection of separate services. Local is separate from long distance -- not because they're really two different businesses, but because the Telecom Act says they are. Cable, telephony, satellite, wireless - each has its own bureau at the FCC. And the vast bulk of regulatory effort is focused on one ever-shrinking segment of the business: local voice communications. Rather than being market-driven, competition in communications is managed by regulatory bodies who today dictate the terms of competitive entry, establish prices on retail and wholesale services, oversee our operations, and maintain an elaborate system of subsidies. To put it more simply, they're trying to pick winners and losers. The result of this approach is that the communications industry in this country has not been able to develop along natural lines. However unintended, regulation has stifled progress in the deployment of new technology."  Ivan Seidenberg, 9/25 (source)

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