Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
May 9, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 183.
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Public Opinion on Privacy
5/8. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection held a hearing titled Opinion Surveys: What Consumers Have To Say About Information Privacy. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, presided. He stated that "If the public opinion polls suggest one thing, it is that the American public's encounter with the issues of information privacy is as complex as the issue itself."
Frank Newport of Gallup testified that "Our conclusion is that this is an issue which is of significant potential concern, but one which has not yet moved to the point where it is a currently front-burner problem to many Americans who regularly use the Internet." Harrison Rainie of Pew testified that Internet users "would like the presumption of privacy when they are online; they want to be asked before information is gathered or disseminated. They want rules, but they have no clear preference for government standards or industry self-regulation." See, prepared statements of witnesses: Frank Newport (Gallup Poll), Harrison Rainie (Pew Internet & American Life Project), Alan Westin (Columbia University), Humphrey Taylor (Harris Interactive), and Sandra Bauman (Wirthlin Worldwide).
Costs of Complying with Privacy Legislation
5/8. Robert Hahn, Director of the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, presented a study [PDF] titled "An Assessment of the Costs of Proposed Online Privacy Legislation" at a luncheon on Capitol Hill hosted by the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT). Hahn estimated the costs of some aspects of proposed online privacy legislation and concluded that the costs to online businesses of complying "could be in the billions, if not tens of billions of dollars." He also argued that "further regulation of online privacy is premature for three reasons. First, the costs could be substantial. Second, I am not aware of any good quantitative estimates of the benefits of such regulation. Third, the market is reacting to ensure that at least some of the consumer concerns related to online privacy are being addressed." Hahn conceded that over time compliance costs could decrease. He also stated that it is possible that the electronic economy is being held back by individuals' fears of loss of privacy. See also, summary of study and ACT release.
Privacy Commission
5/8. The House Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management adopted HR 583, the Privacy Commission Act, by a voice vote. The bill would create a 17 member commission to study privacy issues, and then issue a report within 18 months. It is sponsored by Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), Rep. James Moran (D-VA), and others.
Financial Privacy Rules
4/30. The U.S. District Court (DDC) issued its order and opinion [PDF] in IRSG v. FTC upholding the FTC's regulations that require information brokers and credit reporting agencies to offer individuals notice and an opportunity to opt-out before selling their names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. Individual Reference Services Group, a trade association that represents credit reporting agencies and others, and Trans Union, a credit reporting agency, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against the FTC and other financial regulatory agencies seeking judicial review of the regulations promulgated by the FTC pursuant to Title V [PDF] of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA). Title V pertains to the disclosure on nonpublic personal information, and authorizes the FTC to promulgate implementing regulations. Plaintiffs argued that the FTC's regulations were illegal under the GLBA, arbitrary and capricious, and unconstitutional (speech, due process, Fifth Amendment equal protection). The District Court, in ruling on cross motions for summary judgment, rejected all of plaintiffs' arguments.
New Documents
USDC: opinion in IRSG v. FTC upholding GLBA regulations, 4/30 (PDF, USDC).
Hahn: study re costs of complying with privacy legislation, 5/7 (PDF, ACT).
USCA: opinion in USA v. Hitt re criminal prosecution involving export controls, 5/8 (HTML, USCA).
USCA: opinion in Allard v. Advanced Programming Resources re trademark infringement, 5/8 (HTML, USCA).
Markup of HR 1542 Today
5/9. The House Commerce Committee will meet to mark up HR 1542, a bill sponsored by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee. The Telecom Subcommittee approved this bill on April 26 after a long and contentious meeting on a roll call vote of 19 to 14. See, TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert of April 27, 2001.
HR 1542 is one of two major bills that would change the regulatory environment in which the Baby Bells operate. The other bill, HR 1698, is sponsored by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who are both members of the House Judiciary Committee. Sponsors and supporters of both bills assert that their bills would promote the deployment of broadband Internet access services.
5/8. The U.S. Court of Appeals (6thCir) issued its opinion in Allard v. Advanced Programming Resources, an appeal from a judgment in a trademark infringement case on a number of issues. Both parties claim the exclusive right to use the mark "APR". The Appeals Court concluded that the District Court did not err in granting a new trial but did err in permitting defendants to amend their counterclaim to request cancellation of plaintiff's federal registration. The Appeals Court reversed the cancellation of plaintiff's registration. The Appeals Court affirmed the conclusion that defendants have the exclusive right to use the mark in central Ohio. The Appeals Court remanded to evaluate the parties' rights to use the mark on the Internet, throughout Ohio and throughout the U.S. 
Export Controls
5/8. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued its opinion in USA v. Hitt, a criminal case involving allegations of fraudulent misrepresentations made to the Department of Commerce in connection with the sale by McDonnell Douglas to the People's Republic of China of machinery that was subject to export controls. The District Court ruled that the charges were barred by the statute of limitations. The Appeals Court affirmed.
Stock Options
5/8. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion in Scribner v. WorldCom, a case construing the meaning of the words "termination without cause" mean in the context of a stock option contract between an employer and employee.
Fast Track
5/8. USTR Robert Zoellick testified before the House Ways and Means Committee's Trade Subcommittee. He advocated fast track trade negotiating authority. He stated: "The Bush Administration's top trade priority is for the Congress to enact U.S. Trade Promotion Authority by the end of the year. Under this authority, the executive branch would be bound by law to consult regularly and in detail with members of Congress as trade agreements are being negotiated. But once that long and exhaustive process of consultations is completed, and the painstaking negotiations have ended in an agreement, our trading partners have the right to know that Congress will vote on the agreement up or down. Indeed, in the absence of Trade Promotion Authority, which expired in 1994, other countries have been reluctant to close out complex and politically sensitive trade agreements with the United States." See, prepared testimony.
See also, statements of Rep. James Moran (D-VA) and ERep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), and prepared testimony of other witnesses: Loren Yager (GAO), Richard Fisher (former Deputy USTR), John Sweeney (AFL/CIO), Franklin Vargo (NAM), Daniel Price (U.S. Council for International Business), William Gambrel (U.S. Chamber of Commerce), Marta Lucía Ramirez de Rincón (Minister of Foreign Trade, Colombia), Ana Maria Solares (Vice-Minister of Trade and Economics, Bolivia), Carlos Moore (American Textile Manufacturers Institute), Stephen Lamar (American Apparel and Footwear Association).
5/8. The FCC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register regarding revisions to the method of subsidizing schools and libraries under its e-rate program when there is insufficient funding to support all requests. Comments are due by May 23, 2001. Reply comments are due by May 30, 2001. See, Federal Register, May 8, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 89, at Pages 23204 - 23208.
More News
5/8. The FTC held the second day of two day workshop on competition issues that arise in connection with business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce. See, release.
5/8. The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed its hearing on patents relating to genetics and biotechnology. No future date has been scheduled. The Committee is also scheduled to hold a hearing on May 15 titled "High Technology Patents I: Business Methods and the Internet."
5/8. The FCC announced that it adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Notice of Proposed to explore ways to reform the existing universal service fund (USF) subsidy system. See, release.
Day three of a three day conference hosted by the Electronics Industry Alliance (EIA). See, EIA conference web site and agenda. Location: Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1000 H Street NW, Washington DC.
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DC Cir) will hear oral argument in Qwest v. FCC, Appeal No. 00-1376. Judges Williams, Ginsburg, and Rogers will preside.
10:00 AM. The House Commerce Committee will meet to mark up HR 1542, "The Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001." Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
12:00 NOON. The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will host a panel discussion titled "Sex, Hate and Kids Online: Policy Options for the Internet." The scheduled speakers include Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA), Don Telage (COPA Commission), Jerry Berman (COPA Commission), Bob Flores (COPA Commission), Larry Magid (LA Times Columnist), Michael Hiembach (FBI), Robin Raskin (Family PC Magazine). Lunch will be served. RSVP to or call Danielle at 202-638-4370. Location: Room HC-5, U.S. Capitol Building.
Thursday, May 10
Deadline to submit reply comments in response to the FCC's request for comments [PDF] on five reports that it has received regarding the potential for ultra-wideband (UWB) transmission systems to cause harmful interference to other radio operations. UWB devices, which use very narrow pulses with very wide bandwidths, have potential applications in both radar and communications technologies.
9:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on HR 718, the Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001, and HR 1017, the Anti-Spamming Act of 2001. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building.
9:30 AM. The Federal Communications Commission will hold a meeting. Location: Commission Meeting Room, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington DC. The agenda includes:
 • Universal Service. The FCC will consider a Fourteenth Report and Order and Twenty-First Order on Reconsideration in CC Docket No. 96-45 and a Report and Order in CC Docket No. 00-256 concerning a proposal to reform federal high-cost universal service support mechanisms for rural carriers.
 • Removed from Agenda. Cross-Ownership of Broadcast Stations and Newspapers. The FCC will consider a NPRM proposing to modify, eliminate, or retain its rule that prohibits common ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers within the same geographic area. (MM Docket No. 96-197)
 • Spread Spectrum Devices. The FCC will consider a Further NPRM proposing changes to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to the introduction of new wireless devices using spread spectrum and other digital technologies. The FCC will also review the staff's denial of an application for equipment certification filed by Wi-LAN, Inc. (ET Docket No. 99-231.)
9:30 AM. The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on several nominations, and a vote on several others. A hearing will be held on the nominations of John Robson (President of the Export-Import Bank), James Jochum (Asst. Sec. of Commerce for Export Administration), and Peter Fisher (Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance). Votes will be held on the nominations of Grant Aldonas (Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade), Kenneth Juster (Undersecretary of Commerce for Export Administration), and Location: Room 538, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an executive business meeting. The agenda may include a vote on the nomination of Charles James to be Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
11:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property will hold a hearing titled "Patents: Improving Quality and Curing Defects." Location: Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building. 
FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth will be luncheon keynote speaker for the Federal Asian Pacific American Council Conference Congressional Seminar. Location: Russell Senate Office Building, Caucus Room, Washington DC.
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