Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Jan. 26, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 110.
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107th Congress
1/22. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced S 88, the Broadband Internet Access Act of 2001, a bill to incent deployment of broadband services in rural areas with tax credits. He stated that "The Act would give companies the incentive to build current generation broadband facilities in rural areas by using a very focused tax credit. It would offer any company that invests in broadband facilities in rural or inner city areas a ten percent tax credit over the next five years. This tax credit will help fight the growing disparity in technology I just described.
1/22. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) introduced S 136, the Fast Track Trade Negotiating Authority Act. It was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. He stated that this bill "would provide the President with much-needed fast track authority, so that he may expand trade by entering into trade agreements with our partners around the world. Fast track is key to unleashing the wealth-generating machine of trade still further, to all corners of the world. It is long past time to reauthorize this critical provision."
Internet Filtering
1/23. The California Court of Appeal heard oral argument in Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore. Plaintiff, a parent of a child who used Internet access computers at the Livermore Public Libraries, filed a complaint in California state court to compel the library to install filtering software on computers used by children within the library. The trial court dismissed pursuant to Section 230 of the Telecom Act of 1996 without a formal written opinion. The three judge panel (Daniel Hanlon, Timothy Reardon, and Patricia Sepulveda) heard one half hour of argument from Dan Sodergren (City of Livermore), Matthew Brown (Cooley Godward on behalf of the California State Association of Counties) and Ann Brick (ACLU Northern California), and one half hour of argument from Michael Millen (for Kathleen R.). Afterwards a confident Sodergren predicted "I think the judges are pretty definitely going to rule in our favor." The opinion may be issued within several weeks. See also, Opening Appeal Brief by Kathleen R., Respondent's Brief, Amicus curaie brief by the ACLU NC and PFAW, Amicus curiae brief filed by the Calif. State Assoc. of Counties, and Reply Brief by Kathleen R. The Livermore Public Libraries does not accept e-rate or other federal subsidies for Internet access, so the recently enacted federal statute, the Children's Internet Protection Act, is not applicable to it.
Greenspan Speaks
1/25. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the Senate Budget Committee regarding the contribution of information technology to recent economic growth, George Bush's proposed tax cut, and other issues. See, prepared testimony. Regarding the effect of technology, he stated: "Had the innovations of recent decades, especially in information technologies, not come to fruition, productivity growth during the past five to seven years, arguably, would have continued to languish at the rate of the preceding twenty years. The sharp increase in prospective long-term rates of return on high-tech investments would not have emerged as it did in the early 1990s, and the associated surge in stock prices would surely have been largely absent. The accompanying wealth effect, so evidently critical to the growth of economic activity since the mid 1990s, would never have materialized." He also addressed Bush's proposal to cut taxes by $1,600,000 million over 10 years, without mentioning the President Bush. "Lately there has been much discussion of cutting taxes to confront the evident pronounced weakening in recent economic performance," said Greenspan. "And should current economic weakness spread beyond what now appears likely, having a tax cut in place may, in fact, do noticeable good." See also, statement of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM).
New Documents
Greenspan: testimony to Sen. Budget Comm., 1/25 (HTML, FRB).
FTC: complaint, proposed agreement, and analysis re proceeding against Indigo Investment Systems, 1/15 (all PDF, FTC).
USPTO: Report to Congress re abusive registration of personal names as domain names, 1/25 (PDF, USPTO).
FCC Staff
1/25. Michael Powell, George Bush's nominee to be Chairman of the FCC, announced that Marsha MacBride will be Chief of Staff. She currently works for Walt Disney. Prior to that she worked at a number of positions at the FCC. She was Legal Advisor to Powell for mass media and cable television matters, and Executive Director of the FCC's Task Force on Year 2000 Conversion. She started in the Political Programming Branch of the Mass Media Bureau's Enforcement Division. She was also Acting Deputy Chief of the Cable Services Bureau, Senior Legal Advisor to the Chief, Mass Media Bureau, Associate Chief in the Office of Engineering and Technology, and Legal Advisor to former Commissioner James Quello. See, release.
1/25. Powell also announced the following FCC staff appointments: Jane Mago, who is currently Deputy Bureau Chief of the Enforcement Bureau, will be responsible for the interim management of the agency's legal functions, overseeing the Office of General Counsel. Paul Jackson will be responsible for the interim management of inter-governmental, legislative and lobbying functions. Peter Tenhula will be Senior Legal Advisor to the Chairman, and will be responsible for wireless and international issues. Kyle Dixon will be Legal Advisor with responsibility for common carrier and select broadband and advanced services issues. Susan Eid will Legal Advisor with responsibility for mass media and cable TV issues. Antonia McGowan will continue as Confidential Assistant, and Dorothy Clingman will be Senior Staff Assistant. See, release.
More New Briefs
1/25. VTech Holdings filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (SDNY) against Lucent alleging various claims arising out of its purchase of Lucent's consumer telephone division last year. VTech makes telephones, electronic learning toys, and paging devices.
1/25. Chiquita filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg against the European Commission for failing to implement 1997 WTO rulings. The case is about bananas. However, ongoing trade disputes between the U.S. and EU over agricultural products has the potential to lead to reciprocal trade sanctions, in which case the EU would target U.S. high tech exporters for retaliation.
1/25. The FTC settled a civil administrative claim against Indigo Investment Systems, Inc., and its CEO, Frank Alphonso, regarding making false and unsupported claims about the performance of Indigo's investment trading software. To put the agreement into effect, the FTC filed an administrative complaint [huge PDF file] and proposed agreement [PDF]. See also, FTC Analysis [PDF] and FTC release [HTML].
1/25. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4thCir) issued its opinion in Columbia Communications v. EchoStar, several consolidated appeals from a U.S. District Court (DMd) judgment in a case regarding a contract for the use of a satellite transponder to transmit TV programs.
1/25. Microsoft stated that on Jan. 25 it "was the target of a denial of service attack against the routers that direct traffic to the company's Web sites" and that it "has made the FBI aware of this situation". See, release.
1/25. Microsoft announced its Java User Migration Path to Microsoft .NET (aka "JUMP to .NET"), a set of technologies and services to assist programmers in migrating Java language projects onto the Microsoft .NET Platform. See, release. The announcement comes two days after Microsoft and Sun Microsystems settled their Java related litigation. See also, settlement agreement.
Intellectual Property
1/25. The USPTO submitted a Report to Congress [18 pages in PDF] titled The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999, section 3006 concerning the abusive registration of domain names. The report concludes: "We conclude that the time is not ripe for further Federal legislation to protect personal names from abusive registration as domain names. In the political area, we see no need at this time for the FEC to intervene to create a centralized accurate list of official candidates and potential candidates for Federal, state or local offices. With regard to existing remedies available under trademark law, unfair competition, and dilution, we observe that aggrieved personal name holders are eligible for protection under these laws." The USPTO also published in its web site PDF scans of all of the public comments that it received.
Online Trading
1/25. The SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a report titled Examinations of Broker-Dealers Offering Online Trading: Summary of Findings and Recommendations. Internet based trading was first introduced in 1995. According to the report, there are now about 7.8 Million people trading online, making around 807,000 trades per day. Over 200 broker-dealers provide retail investors the ability to trade online. Along with the growth in online trading, there has been a surge in investor complaints related to online trading. The report makes many recommendations, including:
  "broker-dealers should consider enhancing their web sites to provide a basic explanation of securities trading"
  "Broker-dealers should take steps to prevent executions of unintended duplicate orders"
  "Firms should evaluate the information they provide to customers about margin to ensure that it is in plain English and conspicuous"
  "broker-dealers ... conducting online initial public offerings ... should provide customers with a full and accurate description of their online IPO allocation and distribution methods, including the probability of receiving shares"
  "Firms should ensure that their advertising is balanced, describing the risks as well as the potential rewards of trading and investing"
  "broker-dealers should take steps to prevent capacity or other operational concerns from disrupting market operations"
  "Firms should evaluate the security of their web site and e-mail systems" (the report then addresses encryption, firewalls, passwords, and cookies)
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's Young Lawyers Committee will host a Brown Bag Lunch. Outgoing FCC General Counsel Christopher Wright will speak on "FCC Legal Issues." Location: FCC, Room 8-B516, 8th Floor South Conference Room, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington DC.
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