Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Jan. 19, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 105.
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Interactive TV
1/18. The FCC released a Notice of Inquiry [PDF] regarding cable interactive television services. Interactive TV (ITV), which is in a very early stage of development, is intended to combine video and data services, integrate web content with video programming, allow real-time interaction between viewers, and facilitate television commerce. The Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeks comments on many topics, including:
  whether any other distribution platform does or might possess market power in the distribution of ITV services, and if so, what regulatory approach might be warranted;
  the likely ITV delivery capabilities of other delivery platforms, such as DBS and DSL;
  whether ITV distributors that the FCC finds to have the power to act anticompetitively should be subject to regulations that require nondiscriminatory treatment of unaffiliated ITV providers.
  what should be the legal classification of ITV services; and,
  how the FCC should enforce any rules regarding ITV services.
1/18. The Commissioners of the FCC were divided over how to proceed on interactive TV. Outgoing FCC Chairman Wm. Kennard released a statement supporting the NOI. Commissioner Tristani released a statement in which she complained that the FCC did not go far enough; she wanted a full blown rule making proceeding. In contrast, Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth wrote a dissent in which he argued that it is improper to "raise the specter of government regulation ... for services that are still in their gestational period." He also argued that the FCC lacks legal authority to conduct the proceeding because the Cable Act prevents the FCC from regulating cable content.
1/18. NCTA CEO Robert Sachs condemned the FCC's Notice of Inquiry regarding ITV services. He said that "asking dozens of hypothetical questions about regulating a business which has yet to take form still puts the cart before the horse, in regulatory terms. Interactive TV is just starting to develop and is likely to evolve in different ways. There is no evidence to suggest that government regulation is called for here." See, release.
Antitrust News
1/18. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4th Cir) issued its opinion in Baltimore Scrap Corp. v. David Joseph Co., a case involving  1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. This is not a high tech case; it is about scrap metal processing. However, tech companies, and their attorneys, may find the Court's discussion of the Noerr Pennington doctrine pertinent. Baltimore Scrap sued David Joseph Co. and others alleging that the defendants violated the Sherman Act by surreptitiously financing litigation in state court in order to prevent or delay Baltimore Scrap's entry into the market. The defendants argued that the Noerr-Pennington doctrine immunizes those who petition the courts from antitrust liability. The district court agreed, and dismissed the suit. See, opinion. The Appeals Court affirmed.
New Documents
FCC: Notice of Inquiry re cable interactive television services, 1/18 (PDF, FCC).
NTIA: study on the effect of UWB on existing public safety and national security systems, 1/18 (PDF, NTIA).
NTIA: Annual Report, 1/18 (HTML, NTIA).
NTIA: NPRM re compensating incumbent federal agency users that may be required to modify their systems as a result of spectrum reallocation for 3G wireless uses, 1/18 (TXT, FedReg).
USCA: opinion in Baltimore Scrap re Noerr Pennington doctrine, 1/18 (HTML, USCA)
Kennard: report re broadcasting and the pubic interest, 1/18 (PDF, FCC).
New and Updated Sections
Calendar (updated daily).
News from Around the Web (updated daily).
News Briefs
1/18. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of Colin Powell to be Secretary of State by unanimous voice vote.
1/18. The NTIA released a study [huge PDF file] on the effect of ultrawideband (UWB) on existing public safety and national security systems. UWB operates across a wide range of spectrum frequencies at low power levels using very narrow pulses. Hence, there is the potential for interference. It is a promising technology that can be used for wireless networks, remote sensing or tracking, and ground penetrating radars. The NTIA conducted interference tests on the Air Route Surveillance Radar (1240-1370 MHZ), Airport Surveillance Radar (2700-2900 MHZ) and Air Traffic Control Beacon System (1090 MHZ), and developed mathematical simulation models for other systems. The NTIA found that there is a potential to operate UWB in the 3 GHz-6 GHz range. The study is titled "Assessment of Compatibility Between Ultrawideband Devices and Selected Federal Systems." See also, prepared statement of NTIA chief Greg Rohde.
1/18. The NTIA released its Annual Report for the year 2000. The report reviews the major activities of the NTIA, and contains policy recommendations. See also, statement by NTIA chief Greg Rohde.
1/18. The NTIA published in the Federal Register its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding compensating incumbent federal agency users in the 1755-1850 MHz band that may be required to modify their systems as a result of spectrum reallocation for 3G wireless uses. The NTIA released the NPRM on Jan. 17. See, TLJ story. However, the Federal Register notice contains deadlines for submitting comments. Comments are due on or before March 19, 2001. Reply comments are due April 18, 2001.
1/18. Wm. Kennard, the outgoing Chairman of the FCC, wrote a report [PDF] titled "Report to Congress on the Public Interest Obligations of Television Broadcasters as They Transition to Digital Television." See also, summary [HTML] and letter [PDF] to Senators.
1/18. The FBI's NIPC placed at the top of the home page of its web site a hyperlink to an advisory regarding distributed denial of service attacks that it originally issued on Oct. 13, 2000. Advisory No. 00-055 states that "New variants of the Trinity and Stacheldraht Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) tools have been found in the wild. As was demonstrated in February of this year, DDoS attacks can bring down networks by flooding target machines with more traffic than the machines can process." The NIPC did not elaborate on why it republicized this advisory. The NIPC issues three level of warnings: assessments, advisories, and alerts. Advisories have the middle level of urgency.
1/18. The FBI's NIPC published a list of courses offered to federal, state, and local law enforcement officers on conducting network intrusion investigations. Courses are taught by the NIPC's Training and Continuing Education Unit at Quantico, Virginia.
1/18. Cal. Gov. Gray Davis announced the release of $167 million in education technology grants for high schools.
1/17. The GSA began construction of the USPTO's new consolidated headquarters facility in Alexandria, Virginia. See, USPTO release.
1/17 The SEC instituted an administrative proceeding, and issued an order, against Mark Lynch, a CPA, and former CFO of MicroStrategy. The SEC states that Lynch knowingly or recklessly participated in the material overstatement of MicroStrategy's revenues and earnings in its financial statements included in periodic reports and registration statements filed with the SEC, and that he falsified books and records. The Order bars Lynch from appearing or practicing before the SEC as an accountant. Also, in December of 2000 the SEC filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court (DDC), and obtained a judgment against, Lynch, enjoining him from violating  17(a) of the Securities Act,  10(b) of the Exchange Act, or Rules 10b-5 and 13b2-1 thereunder.
TechNet and the National Venture Capital Association will host an event titled "New Economy Policy Luncheon." The scheduled speakers are Floyd Kvamme (Kleiner Perkins), Jim Barksdale (The Barksdale Group), Meg Whitman (eBay), Bob Herbold (Microsoft), Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Rep. Cal Dooley (D-CA), Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT). Rick White of TechNet and Mark Heesen of NVCA will also be present. For more information, contact Adam Rak at or 650-213-1166. Location: Holeman Lounge, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington DC, 20045.
1/18. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced several personnel changes. Beginning on Jan. 22, George Bevan will be the Chief of Narcotics, and Susan Badger will be the Chief of General Crimes. Both will report to David Shapiro, who remains Chief of the Criminal Division. Bevan replaces Kathy Bostick who will become corporate counsel for Microsoft in Singapore. Badger prosecuted Operation Cyberstrike in 1988, in which seven defendants were convicted of criminal copyright infringement for operating computer bulletin boards offering pirated software. See, release.
1/18. Intel announced several promotions. It named Thomas Dunlap Senior Vice President. He was already General Counsel and Secretary of the company, with responsibility for legal and government affairs. He has been with Intel since 1974. See, release.
1/18. The FCC announced that Chief of Staff Kathy Brown "will be leaving the Agency shortly. She can be reached at kathybrown99" See, FCC release.
Internet Filtering
1/17. The American Library Association's Executive Board voted to initiate legal action to challenge the Children's Internet Protection Act, which became law in Dec. of 2000. The Act requires schools and libraries which receive e-rate subsidies to use a porn filtering technology on Internet access computers used by children. See, release.
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