Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Feb. 14, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 123.
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Bills Introduced
2/13. Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced the Privacy Commission Act [PDF], a bill to create a bipartisan Privacy Protection Commission. This Commission would be charged with studying a wide range of privacy issues, including online collection of information, financial, medical and employment records, and government records (including the census, drivers license numbers). "Protecting privacy in a manner that doesn't stunt the growth of electronic commerce is our central policy challenge," said Rep. Moran. See, Hutchinson release and release. Hutchinson and Moran also introduced a similar bill in the 106th Congress -- HR 4049. The House voted 250 to 146 in favor of that bill on Oct. 2, 2000. See, Roll Call No. 503. However, since it was considered under a suspension of the rules, a two thirds majority was required for passage.
2/12. Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) introduced HR 556, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act, a bill to prevent the use of certain bank instruments for unlawful Internet gambling. The bill does not illegalize any form of Internet gambling. Rather, it provides that if a "bet or wager is unlawful under any applicable Federal or State law in the State in which the bet or wager is initiated, received, or otherwise made" then certain federally regulated financial transactions made not be used to transact the illegal Internet gambling operation. The bill provides that "No person engaged in a gambling business may knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling -- (1) credit, or the proceeds of credit, extended to or on behalf of such other person (including credit extended through the use of a credit card); (2) an electronic fund transfer ... (3) any check, draft, or similar instrument ..." The Congress has yet to pass an Internet gambling bill. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who sponsored bills in the 105th and 106th Congresses, has yet to introduce his own bill in the current Congress (107th).
2/8. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced S 290, the Student Privacy Protection Act, to restrict the dissemination data collected by public schools to commercial entities. This bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide that "no State educational agency or local educational agency that receives funds under this Act may (1) disclose data or information the agency gathered from a student to a person or entity that seeks disclosure of the data or information for the purpose of benefiting the person or entity's commercial interests ..." However, data can be disclosed if parental consent is obtained.
New Documents
Hutchinson: Privacy Commission Act, 2/13 (PDF, Hutchinson).
Leach: HR 556, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act, 2/12 (HTML, LOC).
Dodd: S 290, the Student Privacy Protection Act, 2/8 (HTML, LOC).
ALJ: comment to the IRS re tax exempt entities use of the Internet, 2/13 (HTML, ALJ).
IS: comment to the IRS re tax exempt entities use of the Internet, 2/13 (PDF, IS).
USCA: opinion in Sisco v. Brush re jurisdiction in trademark and customs cases, 2/13 (HTML, USCA).
Quote of the Day
"Does providing a hyperlink to the website of another organization that engages in lobbying activity constitute lobbying by a charitable organization?"

IRS, notice of October 16, 2000.

"... clearly no. ... Unless the origin and destination site are controlled by the same people, the origin site can never be certain what content will appear on the destination site. ... Any other rule would present an insurmountable barrier to use of links because a charity could never be sure what content would be posted at the destination site when the charity wasn't looking."

Independent Sector, comment submitted to the IRS, Feb. 13.

IRS & the Internet
2/13. Feb. 13 was the deadline to submit comments to the IRS in its proceeding regarding its regulation of Internet speech. The IRS released a document in October 2000 stating that it is considering whether to issue guidance regarding the application of the Internet Revenue Code to various types of Internet communications by tax exempt entities. Tax exempt status is critical to the fund raising efforts of many groups. Tax exempt status means that donors' contributions are tax deductible; also, many foundations only donate to tax exempt entities. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation conducted an investigation of the IRS following news media reports that the IRS engaged in partisan bias in its the handling of tax-exempt organization matters. Its March 2000 report [167 page in PDF] found "no credible evidence of intervention by Clinton Administration officials".
2/13. The Alliance for Justice, a Washington DC based interest group, which serves as an umbrella organization for a wide range of civil rights, environmental, women's, and other groups, submitted a comment to the IRS. It argued that "In most cases, communication on the Net is similar to communication in other media, and the IRS should simply apply existing principles." It also argued that "It may be better, in some areas, to wait until the Internet matures before attempting to promulgate regulations that new technologies and applications will make obsolete." The Independent Sector, a collection of charitable, educational, religious, health, and social welfare entities, also submitted a comment [36 pages in PDF].
IBM & the Nazis
2/13. IBM responded to the recently published book and recently filed lawsuit which accuse it of assisting Nazis in their persecution of Jews. The UK's Sunday Times published a story on Feb. 11 about the book. The book is also serialized in the Sunday Times. IBM said this: "It has been known for decades that the Nazis used Hollerith equipment and that IBM's German subsidiary during the 1930s -- Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen GmbH (Dehomag) -- supplied Hollerith equipment. As with hundreds of foreign-owned companies that did business in Germany at that time, Dehomag came under the control of Nazi authorities prior to and during World War II. ... IBM does not have much information or records about this period or the operations of Dehomag. Most documents were destroyed or lost during the war." See, IBM release.
Intellectual Property
2/13. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Sisco v. Brush, a case concerning overlapping areas of law (trademark and customs) and jurisdiction (U.S. District Court and Court of International Trade -- CIT). Sisco and Brush both make strong boxes. Brush registered the mark "Fire Safe", and recorded it with U.S. Customs Service. The Customs Service detained strong boxes imported by Sisco containing the mark "Fire Safe". Sisco filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (CDCal) seeking declaratory judgment of non-infringement and cancellation of Brush's trademark. The Court granted Sisco's request for a preliminary injunction regarding the Customs Service detention. Brush appealed, arguing, among other things, that exclusive jurisdiction rests with the CIT. The Appeals Court ruled the District Court has jurisdiction: the District Court has jurisdiction over a challenge to the seizure of goods, while the CIT has exclusive jurisdiction over a challenge to the denial of a protest of exclusion of goods.
2/13. The USPTO announced that it will co-host a three day conference in London on the Internet and Intellectual Property Crime. The event will be hosted by the USPTO, the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe -- Advisory Group on the Protection and Implementation of Intellectual Property Rights for Investment (UN/ECE), and the U.K. Patent Office. See, release.
2/10. The WIPO issued two releases regarding the Milan Forum on Intellectual Property and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. See, Feb. 9 release and Feb. 10 release.
2/13. The FCC announced that the Commission meeting on February 22, 2001, will focus on "a comprehensive review of FCC policies and procedures by the Commissioners and senior agency officials." All eight FCC bureau and office chiefs will report on their internal management procedures and current regulatory issues, to be followed by questions and dialogue with the Commissioners. The FCC will not take up any other agenda items at this meeting. The new FCC Chairman, Michael Powell, stated, "I think the monthly meeting is a good forum for the Commission to publicly take stock of how well we are organized to be as responsive as possible to the issues and needs of the industries under the purview of the FCC." See, release.
2/14. Microsoft announced that Rick Belluzzo will be its new President and Chief Operating Officer, and that current COO Bob Herbold will retire. See, release.
2/13. Marc Osgoode joined the NCTA as Senior Director for Communications. See, release
Breaking News
2/14. The Wall Street Journal reports in a Feb. 14 story that the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division is investigating Microsoft's alliance with Corel. Quote: "In a civil subpoena served on Microsoft three weeks ago, the Justice Department demanded all internal documents on the software company's $135 million investment in Corel last October ..."
9:30 AM. The Senate Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing on ICANN. The scheduled witnesses include Michael Roberts (ICANN), Karl Auerbach (ICANN), Michael Froomkin (Univ. of Miami), Roger Cochetti (VeriSign Network Solutions), Kenneth Hansen (NeuStar), Brian Cartmell (eNIC). Location: Room 253, Russell Building.
9:30 AM. The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on export controls and S 149, the Export Administration Act. The scheduled witnesses include John Hamre (CSIS) and Donald Hicks (Hicks & Assoc.). Location: Room 538, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee will begin mark up of HR 333, the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act 2001." Room 2141, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Trade will hold its organizational meeting for the 107th Congress. Location: Room 1129, Longworth Building.
10:00 AM. The House Financial Services Committee will hold its organizational meeting. Location: Room 2222, Rayburn Building.
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Cable Committee will host a luncheon, featuring Jonathan Levy, an FCC economist. The price is $15.00. RSVP to Location: NCTA, 1724 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC.
1:00 PM. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael Oxley (R-OH) and all six subcommittee chairs (Baker, King, Bachus, Roukema, Bereuter, and Kelly) will hold a news conference regarding the Committee's oversight plan. Location: Room 2222, Rayburn Building.
2:00 - 4:00 PM. The House Science Committee will hold its organizational meeting for the 107th Congress. Location: Room 2318, Rayburn Building.
5:00 - 7:00 PM. The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will host a reception and technology demonstration. The scheduled speakers include FCC Chairman Michael Powell; Congressional Internet Caucus Co-Chairs Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); Jerry Berman, President of the Internet Education Foundation; and Roger Cochetti, SVP for Policy for VeriSign/Network Solutions. Location: Room 902, Hart Building.
Computers & Crime
2/13. The FBI's NIPC issued an assessment regarding the Anna Kournikova worm. It stated that "the 'Anna Kournikova' mass-mailing worm/virus is spreading rapidly throughout the Internet. Although it is propagating rapidly, it is seen as a low threat due to its apparently non-destructive payload. Although it does not infect files on the victim's systems, this mass-mailing worm can potentially clog email servers because of the volume it generates." The NIPC issues three levels of warnings: assessments, advisories and alerts. Assessments are the lowest threat level.
2/12. The U.S. Court of Appeals (1stCir) issued its opinion in U.S. v. D'Amario. This is a search and seizure case. Police obtained a warrant which authorized police to search D'Amario's home for any "computer, word processor, printer, typewriter ribbons, computer ribbons, computer discs, computer software, hard drive computer components or any other component or part of any instrument or machine capable of producing a printed document." Police searched a dresser drawer and found an illegal firearm. D'Amario moved to suppress evidence of the firearm on the grounds that it was beyond the scope of the warrant. The District Court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
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