Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
May 2, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 178.
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E-Government Act
5/1. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill in the Senate titled the E-Government Act of 2001 [94 pages in PDF]. Sen. Lieberman stated that "What our bill tries to do is put information technology to work to overcome arbitrary or jurisdictional boundaries so that we can provide the public with seamless, secure online services. We focus on delivering services and information to the citizen, organized according to the citizenís needs. To do this, we will need leadership and coordination between agency decision-makers. We are calling for a Federal Chief Information Officer, to be located in the Office of Management and Budget ..." See Lieberman's statement and summary of the bill.
Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology praised the bill. He stated that "this is the first bill ever to comprehensively require the federal government to use the Internet to serve citizens." Robert Atkinson, VP of the Progressive Policy Institute, a Democratic think tank, also commended the bill: "The E-government Act of 2001 will enable the federal government to make a quantum leap toward an electronic, customer-centric government of the 21st century." See, PPI release. Microsoft also praised the bill. See, release.
Blumenthal v. Drudge & AOL
5/1. Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton aide, and Matt Drudge, an Internet journalist, settled the lawsuit, Blumenthal v. Drudge and AOL, which has been languishing with little action for years in the U.S. District Court (DDC). Under the terms of the settlement, Blumenthal will pay $2,500 to Drudge. Blumenthal and his wife sued Drudge alleging defamation for a story that Drudge published about Blumenthal which quoted an anonymous source as saying that Blumenthal had abused his wife. Drudge also issued a retraction. The Blumenthals demanded $30,000,001 in damages on each of 21 counts. Blumenthal also named AOL as a defendant, alleging that it was liable for Drudge's alleged defamation, because Drudge also published his story on AOL. AOL was dismissed from the suit in 1998, pursuant to Section 230 of the Telecom Act of 1996 , which bars claims against "interactive computer services" for "information provided by another content provider". Judge Friedman's opinion is one of the leading precedents on the immunity of interactive computer services. Blumenthal did not appeal the dismissal of AOL. See also, TLJ case summary.
Commerce Dept. Budget
5/1. The Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary held a hearing on the Department of Commerce FY 2002 budget. Donald Evans, Secretary of Commerce, addressed funding for several tech related offices, including the USPTO, NTIA, and BXA, in his prepared testimony. He stated that the USPTO "requests a total program level of $1,139 million, a $100 million increase to manage its growing workload." He stated that the NTIA "requests $73.0 million. This includes a program increase of $2.1 million for the Radio Spectrum Measurement van and suitcase necessary for NTIA's analysis of critical new wireless technologies. We are requesting a decrease of $30 million in the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP), for a total request of $15.5 million. This funding will enable NTIA to support approximately thirty new grants to under-served communities to demonstrate innovative uses of emerging information technologies." He also said that the "Bureau of Export Administration requests $68.9 million in FY 2002. This request includes a program increase of $1.6 million for the redesign and replacement of the Export Control Automated Support System, which will enable better and faster decisions on license applications to accelerate U.S. competitiveness in global markets. An increase of $0.5 million is also requested to achieve efficiencies in processing export licenses."
5/1. Bertelsmann and EMI announced that they will not merge, citing government regulatory obstacles as one reason. Bertelsmann stated that "After intensive exploratory talks, Britain's EMI Group plc and Bertelsmann AG have decided not to continue the negotiations about merging their music businesses. The companies have mutually concluded that the regulatory hurdles Brussels and Washington would most likely impose on an EMI/Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) merger would require a complicated, lengthy investigation and approval procedure. Also, preliminary talks indicated that there would be significant stipulations, which might have called the projectís economic viability into question." See, release.
5/1. The U.S. Court of Appeals (5thCir) issued its opinion in Bennett v. Yamaha, an antitrust case involving allegations of violation of the Sherman Act in connection with resale price maintenance, advertising programs, and monopolization in the sale of Yamaha personal watercraft. The District Court held in favor of defendants on all counts. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
New Documents
Lieberman: E-Government Act of 2001, 5/1 (PDF, GovAffComm).
USCA: opinion in S Industries v. Centra 2000 re trademark infringement, 5/1 (HTML, USCA).
USCA: opinion in Bennett v. Yamaha re antitrust, 5/1 (HTML, USCA).
GAO: report re Clinton White mismanagement of e-mail records, 5/1 (PDF, GAO).
Tauzin Dingell Bill
5/1. HR 1542, the Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, sponsored by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), has not proceeded to markup by the full House Commerce Committee. Last week, on short notice, the Commerce Committee held a hearing on the bill, and its Telecom Subcommittee marked up the bill. Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) stated at the mark up session that the full committee markup would take place on Wednesday, May 2.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) asserting that the Judiciary Committee also has jurisdiction over HR 1542, on the basis that it deals with the regulation of monopoly power, a subject which lies within his Committee's jurisdiction. Also, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), another member of the Committee, announced that they plan to introduce a bill on the same topic.
Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Antitrust, Business Rights, and Competition Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on the implementation of the Telecommunications Act and its impact on competition for Wednesday, May 2, at 2:00 PM. Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) are the Chairman and ranking Democrat.
The House Commerce Committee released a copy of an April 25 letter from Robert Sachs, P/CEO of the NCTA, to Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and other members of the House Commerce Committee, stating that his group does not oppose HR 1542. However, the NCTA, which represents the cable industry, "would strongly oppose efforts to classify cable Internet services as telecommunications services or otherwise extend common carrier-like regulation, including mandatory access requirements, to cable Internet services and facilities."
5/1. The U.S. Court of Appeals (7thCir) issued its opinion in S Industries v. Centra 2000, a case regarding attorneys fees in trademark infringement cases. S Industries filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (NDIll) alleging, among other things, that Centra 2000, a producer of data management software, infringed its "Sentra" trademark in violation of the Lanham Act. S Industries did not hold a federal registration for the "Sentra" mark for use on computer hardware or software. The District Court held that the claim was unfounded, and eventually awarded $136,803 in attorneys fees. The District Court based this award on S Industries' unfounded claims, and procedural maneuvering, including frivolous and dilatory tactics, that increased the cost of defending the suit. The Appeals Court affirmed.
GAO Reports
5/1. The GAO released a report [PDF] titled "Computer-Based Patient Records; Better Planning and Oversight by VA, DOD, and IHS Would Enhance Health Data Sharing."
5/1. The GAO released a report [PDF] titled "Electronic Records: Clinton Administration's Management of Executive Office of the President's E-Mail System."
5/1. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved several nominations, including Kenneth Dam to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, John Taylor to be Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, David Aufhauser to be General Counsel of the Department of Treasury, and Grant Aldonas to be Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. See, release [PDF].
PRC Trade
5/1. James Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs regarding trade with the People's Republic of China. He stated in his prepared testimony that "Our trade with China is in our interest. That is not changed by the fact that trade also happens to be good for China. As the President said to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 5, the marketplace promotes American values; trade encourages more freedom and individual liberties. You can see that happening today in China, where trade has led to greater openness and fewer government controls on day-to-day life, particularly in the coastal region most affected by international trade. We do not claim that trade will remake China, but it helps. For these reasons, as well as our economic interests, and to help foster China's greater integration in the international community of nations, we support China's WTO entry as soon as China is ready to meet WTO standards. Taiwan is ready for entry now, and we expect both to enter the WTO in close proximity."
NIPC Alert
5/1. The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) issued an alert that it "has reliable information indicating a very significant increase in attempts to exploit known weaknesses in the lpd/LPRng and RPC daemons of Unix-based operating systems." The alert adds that this "is consistent with past activities involving the installation and operation of the "mstream" Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) tool." 
Freeh to Leave FBI
5/1. FBI Director Louis Freeh announced that he will retire from the FBI in June. Freeh released a statement in which he thanked various individuals and entities, and reviewed the recent accomplishments of the FBI. For example, he stated that "We have received the human, technical, and financial resources needed to keep the FBI at the cutting edge of investigations, particularly in the rapidly evolving area of cyber-crime. Over the nearly eight years that I have been Director, Congress has increased the FBI's budget by more than $1.27 billion to the 2001 Budget Appropriation level of $3.44 billion. That is a 58% increase over 1993's budget. At the same time, we have benefitted from laws that have strengthened our crime-fighting abilities, including the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act ..." He also thanked former President Clinton for appointing him, and President Bush for asking him to continue as Director of the FBI. He also stated that Bush "brought great honor and integrity to the Oval Office." He did not say what Clinton brought to Oval Office.
5/1. The U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCir) heard oral argument in Universal Studios v. Remeirdes, a case involving DeCSS and the DMCA. This is an appeal of the Final Judgment of the U.S. District Court (SDNY), Judge Lewis Kaplan presiding, enjoining the publication on web sites of any computer program that may be used to decrypt or unscramble the contents of digital versatile discs (DVDs) that are protected by the Contents Scramble System (CSS). The District Court Opinion [98 pages in PDF] applied the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The appellants argue that the DMCA, as applied to computer code, violates the First Amendment.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on nomination of Charles James to be an Assistant Attorney General. If confirmed by the Senate, he will oversee the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ). He will have major responsibility for determining whether or how to proceed with the government's antitrust case against Microsoft. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Appropriations Committee's Legislative Branch Subcommittee will hold a hearing on proposed budget estimates for FY 2001 for the Library of Congress, Joint Economic Committee, Joint Tax Committee, and the Congressional Research Service. Location: Room 128, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM - 12:30 PM. The National Academies' Computer Science & Telecommunications Board and the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology will host a tutorial titled Internet's Coming of Age. Location: Room TW-C305 (Commission Meeting Room), FCC, Portals II, Washington DC.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's Telecommunications Competition Issues Committee will host a brown bag lunch. Peter Tenhula, Senior Legal Advisor to Chairman Powell, will speak on the FCC's approach to merger reviews under the public interest standard. Location: CTIA, Conference Center, 1250 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington DC.
2:00 - 4:00 PM. The House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Research will hold a hearing titled Improving Math and Science Education so that No Child is Left Behind. Room 2318, Rayburn House Office Building.
2:00 PM. The Senate Judiciary Committee's Antitrust, Business Rights, and Competition Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the implementation of the Telecommunications Act and its impact on competition in the industry. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
3:00 PM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property will hold an oversight hearing on the U.S. Copyright Office. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building. 
Internet Crime
4/30. Edwin Saleh plead guilty in U.S. District Court (CDCal) to one count of using the Internet to attempt to induce a minor to engage in criminal sezual activity, and one count of possession of child pormography. Saleh was arrested following IRC and e-mail communications with an undercover officer posing as a teenage girl. Law enforcement authorities then obtained and executed a search warrant at Saleh's residence. They found computer discs that contained pictures of minors. See, release.
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