Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Jan. 23, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 107.
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Michael Powell
1/22. President George Bush nominated Michael Powell to be Chairman of the FCC. He is currently a Commissioner of the FCC. Powell released a statement [MS Word]: "I am deeply honored and privileged to have received President Bush's designation to be Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission. I look forward to working with the new administration, Congress, my fellow Commissioners and the very talented FCC staff on the important and challenging communications issues facing our nation." See also, praise for the nominee from from the NAB, NCTA, and USTA.
1/22. House Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) praised the nomination of Powell. "In my opinion, this is one of President Bush's best -- and most exciting -- selections for his new administration. Michael Powell ranks among America's brightest, young leaders. He understands the benefits to consumers of aggressive competition in the marketplace, and I believe he will work with Congress to complete the task of deregulating the telecommunications industry. For years, watching the FCC work has been like watching an old black-and-white movie. But now, with Michael Powell in charge, get ready for an FCC broadcast in HDTV. He's the one person best suited to bring the agency into the 21st century." Rep. Tauzin and former FCC Chairman Kennard clashed repeatedly.
New TLJ Stories
Rep. Dreier Addresses Fast Track and Other Tech Issues. House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier gave an address on technology issues in the 107th Congress on Friday, January 19. He advocated giving the President fast track trade negotiating authority, opening markets to free trade, reducing export restraints on commercially available products, and reducing the top rate on capital gains taxes.
Sen. Wyden Predicts Congress Will Pass a Privacy Bill This Year. Sen. Wyden predicted that Congress will send an online privacy bill to the President this year. He spoke at a policy luncheon in Washington DC on January 19. Rep. Tauzin described the role of Congress as "helping to making sure the private sector does as good a job as possible in this area with as little federal intervention as possible".
Tech Panel Criticizes FASB Rules on Pooling Method of Accounting. Sen. Bennett, Rep. Dooley, and other members of a Washington DC luncheon panel, criticized the FASB's proposal to eliminate the pooling method of accounting. It does not reflect the realities of the New Economy, and it would hinder investment, they said.
New Documents
FCC: Order in AOL Time Warner merger proceeding, 1/22 (TXT, FCC).
FTC: letter to DoubleClick re privacy practices investigation, 1/22 (PDF, FTC).
USCA: opinion in Virtual Works v. Volkswagen re cybersquatting, 1/22 (HTML, USCA).
USCA: opinion in Bradford v. Rockwell Semiconductor re age discrimination claims, 1/22 (HTML, USCA).
OMB: report re privacy in bankruptcy proceedings, 1/19 (PDF, Treas).
Mineta: speech re telecom and Internet competition in Japan, 1/11 (HTML, DOC).
Updated Sections
Calendar (updated daily).
News from Around the Web (updated daily).
News Briefs
1/22. The FCC released its Memorandum Opinion and Order in its AOL Time Warner merger review proceeding. The FCC announced its approval, with conditions, last week.
1/22. The Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in NCTA v. Gulf Power Co. and FCC V. Gulf Power Co. (Nos. 00-832 and 00-843) The Court limited the issues to "1) Whether those provisions of the Pole Attachments Act apply to attachments by cable television systems that are simultaneously used to provide high-speed Internet access and conventional cable television programming. 2) Whether those provisions of the Pole Attachments Act apply to attachments by providers of wireless telecommunications services no less than to attachments by providers of wireline telecommunications services." The Court also granted AT&T Wireless Services' motion to file an amicus curiae brief. See, Order List for Jan. 22, at pages 4-5.
1/22. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4thCir) issued its opinion in Bradford v. Rockwell Semiconductor, a case involving a discharge based on alleged age discrimination. Bradford was discharged. He had an employment contract that provided for mandatory arbitration, with the fees of arbitration split equally. He pursued, and lost, an arbitration proceeding. He also filed a complaint in U.S. District Court. The Court granted Rockwell's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Bradford had failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable. The Appeals Court affirmed.
1/22. The FCC approved SBC's Section 271 request to provide long distance service in Oklahoma and Kansas. See, SBC release.
1/11. Transportation Secretary nominee Norman Mineta gave a speech in Tokyo, Japan, in which he advocated less regulation and more competition in telecommunications and Internet services. He stated: "We all know that lack of competition weakens the competitive fiber of every industry. Just take a look at the Internet. While I recognize that Japanese cell phone and mobile Internet access exceed that in America, the dearth of true telecom competition makes Internet access less affordable here than in the U.S. That's a major reason why ... Internet penetration is only 23% in Japan, less than half the U.S. rate. In effect, the de facto monopoly of Japan's local telecom market -- combined with a weak and ineffective regulatory system -- significantly dampens incentives for Japanese entrepreneurs to develop a web-based economy, and also deprives consumers of the savings from increased web-based information and competition."
Intellectual Property News
1/22. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4th Cir) issued its opinion in Virtual Works v. Volkswagen, a cybersquatting case. Virtual Works registered the domain name with Network Solutions (NSI) in 1996. Virtual Works then used the domain name for about two years as a part of its small ISP business. It then told Volkswagen that it would sell the domain name to the highest bidder. Volkswagen invoked the NSI dispute resolution process. NSI told Virtual Works to either transfer the name to Volkswagen, or file a complaint for declaratory relief in U.S. District Court, which it did. Volkswagen counterclaimed for trademark dilution, infringement, and cybersquatting under the ACPA. The District Court granted Volkswagen's motion for summary judgment on its cybersquatting, dilution, and infringement counterclaims, and ordered Virtual Works to relinquish to Volkswagen the rights to the domain name. Virtual Works appealed. The Appeals Court affirmed. It found that "Virtual Works attempted to profit in bad faith from Volkswagen's famous mark."
1/22. The National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council (NIPLECC) submitted its Annual Report 2000.
1/19. The USTR released a statement regarding the outcome of Special 301 out-of-cycle reviews of Ukraine, Macau, Korea, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Slovenia and the West Bank/Gaza Strip. Special 301 reviews examine the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property protection in certain countries. The USTR stated that "A decision on whether to identify Ukraine as a Priority Foreign Country was deferred until March 1, 2001." It also stated that "Korea remains on the Priority Watch List ... we look to Korea to significantly expand its enforcement of intellectual property rights, particularly against software piracy."
1/19. USPTO chief Todd Dickinson resigned. The USPTO published a report listing his achievements.
9:30 AM PT. Oral argument before the California Court of Appeal in Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore. This is an appeal to the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division 4, Appeal No. A086349. Plaintiff, a parent of a child who uses Internet access computers at a public library, seeks to compel the library to install filtering software on children's computers within the library. Plaintiff lost in the trial court, and filed this appeal. See, TLJ case summary.
Privacy News
1/22. The FTC sent a letter [PDF] to DoubleClick regarding the complaint filed against it by the EPIC on Feb. 10, 2000 regarding its collection and use of personal identifying information (PII) of web site visitors. The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a Washington based advocacy and litigation group which focuses on privacy issues involved in computer and Internet technologies. DoubleClick is company specializing in online advertising and marketing. The EPIC complaint focused on DoubleClick's "DART" technology, an acronym for "Dynamic Advertising Reporting and Targeting." This involves the use of "cookies" to keep track of the web use of individual browsers which visit web sites with DoubleClick managed ads. The FTC concluded that "it appears to staff that DoubleClick never used or disclosed consumers' PII for purposes other than those disclosed in it privacy policy. ... Staff has determined to close the investigation at this time." See also, Feb. 11, 2000 TLJ story.
1/19. The Treasury Dept., Justice Dept. and Clinton/Gore OMB released a report [81 pages in PDF] titled "Financial Privacy in Bankruptcy: A Case Study on Privacy In Public and Judicial Records." It concluded that "the goal of protecting personal financial information be given increased emphasis in the bankruptcy system. Bankruptcy information policy should better balance society’s interests in fair and efficient case administration, bankruptcy system integrity, government accountability, and the debtor’s privacy. As electronic tools for accessing case information develop and improve, there is an increased need for analysis of access issues to ensure the integrity and proper administration of the system." The report further recommended that "the general public continue to have access to some general information [including] that an individual has filed for bankruptcy, the type of bankruptcy proceeding, the identities of parties in interest, and other core information." However, the report recommended that "the general public not have access to certain highly sensitive information that poses substantial privacy risks to the debtor. This information may include, among other items: Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, loan accounts, dates of birth, and bank account numbers." See also, Treasury release.
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