Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
March 30, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 155.
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3/29. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held a hearing titled FCC Chairman Michael Powell: Agenda and Plans for Reform of the FCC. The new FCC Chairman, Michael Powell, was the sole witness at the lengthy event. See, prepared statement [PDF] of Powell. He promised to reduce FCC backlogs, harmonize regulation across industries, facilitate broadband deployment, pursue universal service goals, build the technical expertise of the FCC, resist regulatory intervention, and increasingly use enforcement proceedings. Subcommittee members widely praised Powell, and questioned him a a variety of issues, including Section 271 proceedings, broadband deployment, e-rate subsidies, broadcast and cable ownership caps, FCC backlogs and delays, universal service, Internet protocol telephony, third generation wireless services, and transition to digital television. See also, prepared statement by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA).
3/29. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the nominations of Kenneth Dam to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, David Aufhauser to be General Counsel of the Department of the Treasury, Michele Davis of Virginia to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and Faryar Shirzad to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Committee, said "I believe all four of these nominees are well-qualified for their positions". See, Grassley statement [PDF]. The Committee has not yet voted on these nominations.
3/29. The House Ways and Means Committee's Trade Subcommittee held a hearing titled Is the United States Losing Ground as Its Trading Partners Move Ahead? See, prepared statements of Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL), Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Thomas Donohue (P/CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), Harold McGraw (CEO of McGraw-Hill), Samuel Maury (Pres. of the Business Roundtable), William Weiller (Ch/CEO of Purafil), Daniel Tarullo (Prof. at Georgetown Univ. Law Center), John McCarter (P/CEO of the Council of the Americas), Harold Wiens (EVP of 3M), Jeffrey Schott (Institute for International Economics), John Hardin (National Pork Producers Council), and Donald Burke (VP of Mead Corp.)
3/29. USTR Robert Zoellick addressed the House Policy Committee on the administration's trade agenda. This committee, which is chaired by Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA), is a Republican forum for the discussion of specific legislative initiatives, for the enunciation of official priorities, and for the resolution of inter-jurisdictional policy disputes.
3/28. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced S 643, a bill to implement the U.S. Jordan Free Trade Agreement. It was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
More New Bills
3/28. Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) introduced HR 1259, a bill to amend the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act to enhance the ability of the NIST to improve computer security.
3/28. Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL) introduced HR 1268, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include wireless telecommunications equipment in the definition of qualified technological equipment for purposes of determining the depreciation treatment of such equipment. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) introduced S 640, the companion bill to HR 1268. It was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
New Documents
Powell: prepared statement for House Telecom Subcommittee, 3/29 (PDF, FCC).
Tauzin & Sensenbrenner: press conference re database protection legislation, 3/29 (HTML, TLJ).
GAO: report on network security at the Defense Dept., 3/29 (PDF, GAO).
Monti: address on international antitrust, 3/29 (HTML, EU).
CalApp: opinion in Lomes v. Hartford Insurance re duty to defend and indemnify, 3/29 (PDF, CalApp).
Annenberg: report on privacy policies and the COPPA, undated (PDF, Annenberg).
Quote of the Day
"People are always asking me to compare you to your father. ... You are just as smart as your father. Only, you have more power to affect the world."

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), statement to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, March 29.
Database Protection
3/29. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, met with stakeholders in the debate over legislation to provide intellectual property like protection for databases. The two seek to develop consensus database protection legislation. In the past, as the Commerce and Judiciary Committees fought over both policy and jurisdiction on this issue, no bill became law.
Databases are accorded little protection, as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in the Feist case. Businesses that own or produce compilations of data have lobbied for protection, and found support from the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over intellectual property matters. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), the Chairman of the House Courts, Internet, and Intellectual Property Subcommittee, has been trying to pass a bill for years. He sponsored HR 2652 in the 105th Congress (1997-1998); it ultimately passed the House, but not the Senate. He sponsored a similar bill in the 106th (1999-2000), HR 354, which passed the Judiciary Committee. Meanwhile, some Internet companies, telecom companies, and educational institutions lobbied against creating protections for databases, and found support from the Commerce Committee. Former Rep. Tom Bliley (R-VA) introduced bill in the 106th Congress, HR 1858, which provided very weak protections for database owners. It passed the Commerce Committee. See, summary of database bills in the 106th Congress.
Reps. Tauzin and Sensenbrenner, who both became chairmen of their committees in January, seek to end the conflict between their two committees. Sensenbrenner stated that "in the past, the two committees have taken decidedly different approaches to the database protection issue, and as a result, nothing has become law. Both Chairman Tauzin and I are committed to getting a database protection bill the President will sign passed by the Congress this year." Tauzin added that in the past "Judiciary used its traditional perspectives of copyright law in approaching the problem. Commerce, now Energy and Commerce, used its traditional communications law perspective as we approached the problem, which inevitably lead to bills that couldn't jive. But, the idea here is for us to find a common approach, so that we don't end up with two committees producing bills that cannot be married together, and compromise one another in the end. And by starting out together, we hope to finish up together." The two also suggested that they hope to see cooperation between the two committees on other law and technology issues. See, transcript of press conference.
Insurance Law
3/29. The Court of Appeal of California (2ndAppDist) issued its opinion [PDF] in Lomes v. Hartford Insurance, a case regarding an insurer's duties to defend and indemnify. Scott Lomes and William Low were the sole shareholders of Newton Wholesale Co., a grocery business that developed software to track inventory and evaluate prices. The two quarreled, and Low ousted Lomes as an employee and officer. However, Lomes remained a director and minority shareholder. Lomes then filed a complaint against Low in U.S. District Court, alleging several claims, including copyright infringement involving the software he and Low had developed. Lomes registered a copyright for the program after being fired. Both Low and Lomes demanded that Hartford defend and indemnify them. Hartford declined to defend or indemnify Lomes. He then filed a complaint in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County against Hartford alleging breach of contract, bad faith, and declaratory relief regarding the duty to defend and indemnify. The trial court held that there was a duty to defend, and dismissed all other claims. Both sides appealed. The Appeals Court held that there was no duty to defend.
3/29. The Annenberg Public Policy Center released a report [PDF] titled "Privacy Policies on Children’s Websites: Do They Play By the Rules?" by Joseph Turow. It concluded that 10% of children’s sites collected personal information from visitors but did not have a privacy policy link on their home pages, in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It also concluded that many privacy policies are too complex.
More News
3/28. The FCC announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding licensing, operating, and competitive bidding in the reallocation of the 698-746 MHz spectrum band (TV Channels 52-59) for new commercial wireless and broadcast services. See, FCC release. The FCC is reclaiming this spectrum as a part of the transition from analog to digital television.
3/29. Cypress Semiconductor filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DDel) against Integrated Circuit Systems alleging patent infringement.
3/29. The FTC published a notice in the Federal Register that it will hold a public workshop on May 7 and 8, 2001, to examine competition policy issues that arise in connection with business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) electronic commerce. The FTC had previously published notice of the workshop in its web site. See release. See, Federal Register, March 29, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 61, at Pages 17177 - 17179.
3/29. EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti is in Washington DC to meet with his counterparts in the U.S. government to discuss antitrust. Monti also gave an address at the spring meeting of the American Bar Association titled "EU Views on a Global Competition Forum." Monti will hold a press conference on March 30 at 11.00 AM at the European Commission’s Washington Delegation, 2300 M Street, NW, Press Room. See also, EU release.
March 28-30. The American Bar Association's Antitrust Section will hold its annual spring meeting. See, agenda. Location: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC.
8:15 AM. FTC Commissioner Mozelle Thompson will speak at the American Bar Association's Antitrust Section's annual meeting. The title of his speech will be "AOL/Time Warner and Interactive TV: the Intersection of TV, Computers, the Internet and Section 7 of the Clayton Act." Location: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC.
10:00 AM. The NTIA will publish on its web site its technical study on the accommodation of third generation (3G) wireless systems in the United States. It will also hold a background briefing for the media. Location: Room 4830, Main Commerce Building, 14th & Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC.
10:00 AM. FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky will participate as a panelist on the Government Roundtable Program at the American Bar Association's Antitrust Section's annual meeting. Location: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC.
11:00 AM. EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti will hold a press conference. See, EU release. Location: European Commission's Washington Delegation, 2300 M Street, NW.
12:00 NOON - 2:00 PM. The NFIB and The National Cattleman's Beef Association will host a panel discussion on access to high-speed Internet service for small businesses. Location: Room B-369, Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-369. RSVP to 554-9000. The panelists will be:
 • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Telecom Subcommittee.
 • Greg Rohde, former head of the NTIA.
 • Phil Burgess, senior fellow at the Center for the New West.
 • James Van Wert, senior advisor for policy and planning at the SBA.
3/29. The GAO released a report [PDF] titled "Information Security: Challenges to Improving DOD's Incident Response Capabilities". The Department of Defense (DOD) has established organizations, known as computer incident response capabilities, that engage in activities associated with preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber attacks on the DOD's information systems and communications networks for critical combat and business operations that are interconnected through the public telecommunications infrastructure and the Internet. The report offers recommendations for improving the DOD's cyber attack response capabilities. Rep. Bob Stump (R-AZ), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, requested the report.
3/29. Ernest Gonzales was indicted by a grand jury of the U.S. District Court (CDCal) on one count of publishing an advertisement to receive, exchange and distribute child pormography (CP), four counts of using a computer to knowingly transport CP in interstate and foreign commerce, and one count or possession of CP images. The German National Police conducted an Internet based investigation, and then forwarded their findings to the U.S. Customs Service, which then investigated Gonzales. It executed a search warrant at Gonzales' home, and seized computer equipment. See, release.
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