|5/15. Rep. Jerry
Weller (R-IL) and 20 other Representatives introduced HR
1835, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to
exclude from gross income computers and Internet access
provided by an employer for the personal use of employees.
The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means
Committee, of which Rep. Weller is a member.
5/15. Rep. Barney Frank
(D-MA) and Rep. Jim
McGovern (D-MA) introduced HR
1842, the Cable Consumer Rights Act of 2001, a bill to
reinstate the authority of the FCC and local
franchising authorities to regulate the rates for cable TV
service. The bill was referred to the House Commerce Committee,
where it is unlikely to see any action. Rep. Frank said this:
"After 5 years of de-regulation we have learned that the
problem was not too much FCC action, but too little."
release. The bill would repeal Subsection (b) of Section
301 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
5/15. Rep. Felix Grucci
(R-NY) introduced HR 1846, a bill to amend Section
254 of the Communications Act of 1934 to require schools
and libraries receiving e-rate subsidies to block access to
Internet services that enable users to access the web and
transfer e-mail in an anonymous manner. It was referred to the
5/15. Rep. Nancy
Johnson (R-CT), Rep.
Bob Matsui (D-CA), and Rep. Pete Sessions
(R-TX) introduced HR 1848, a bill to amend the Internal
Revenue Code of 1986 to more accurately codify the depreciable
life of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The bill
was referred to the House
Ways and Means Committee; Johnson and Matsui are both
senior members of the Committee.
|5/14. Kenneth Juster was sworn in as the Under
Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration. Juster was
previously a partner in the Washington DC office of the law
firm of Arnold &
Porter, where he handled international trade and
transactions, and international arbitration and litigation. He
worked for Lawrence Eagleburger at the State Department during
the administration of the elder Bush.
|FCC Ownership Rules
|5/16. The FCC released a Report
and Order [PDF] that amends its "dual network"
rule to permit one of the four major television networks --
ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC -- to own, operate, maintain or control
the UPN and/or the WB television network. The FCC had
announced, but not released, this Order at its April 19
meeting. See, FCC
release. Commissioner Tristani dissented; see, statement.
|5/16. Mark Cooper, of the Consumer Federation of
America, a Washington DC based interest group, submitted a
comment [PDF] to the FCC opposing SBC's Section
271 petition to provide interLATA long distance telephone
service in the state of Missouri. He argued that "SBC has
not provided parity in provisioning DSL loops to competitive
local exchange carriers (CLECs)." He added that
"Prematurely allowing incumbent local companies into the
in-region long distance market undermines the prospects for
competition." See, CC Docket No. 01-88.
5/16. The Missouri Office of
Public Counsel also submitted a reply
comment to the FCC regarding SBC's Missouri application.
It stated that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filing was
"squarely on point." On May 10, the Antitrust Division of the
DOJ submitted an analysis to the FCC in which it
recommended that the FCC should independently review the
prices that SBC charges its competitors for use of its
network. The DOJ stated that many of the prices charged by SBC
for the use of "unbundled network elements" are
significantly higher in Missouri than in states where SBC has
already been permitted to provide long distance service.
asked the Public Service
Commission of South Carolina to permit it to provide long
distance service in the state. See, release.
5/17. The House
Commerce Committee's Telecom Subcommittee will hold a
1765, a bill to increase penalties for common carrier
violations of the Communications Act of 1934.
1835, a bill to exclude from gross income computers and
Internet access provided by an employer, 5/15 (HTML, LibCong).
1842, a bill to re- regulate cable TV prices, 5/15 (HTML,
statement to Senate Commerce Committee, 5/16 (PDF, SCC).
|Quote of the Day
|"The private sector plays the dominant role in the
process of developing new technology and bringing it to
market. But the Federal government plays a key role in
creating an environment that supports the private sector's
efforts, making a strategic public- private partnership
Bruce Mehlman, nominee for Assistant Secretary of
Commerce for Technology Policy, prepared statement for
confirmation hearing, May 16.
|Muris Confirmation Hearing
|5/16. The Senate
Commerce Committee held a hearing on the nomination of
Timothy Muris to be Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. The
hearing, which covered several other nominees as well, went
smoothly for Muris, and all nominees. Republicans and
Democrats expressed their support. Committee Chairman John
McCain (R-AZ) said "I look forward to moving these
nominations quickly." He added that the Committee will
likely vote next week. See also, prepared
statement of McCain.
The FTC is important to technology because of its antitrust
authority; it is one of three agencies exercising antitrust
merger review authority over transactions involving technology
companies. It is also important because of its consumer
protection authority. It has taken action against online fraud
under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. It has
also advocated that Congress pass legislation giving it
authority to regulate online privacy.
Muris Biography. Muris held several top positions at
the FTC during the Reagan administration, including Director
of the Bureau of
Competition, Director of the Bureau of Consumer
Protection, and Assistant to the Director of the Office of
Policy, Planning & Evaluation. He was also Deputy Counsel
to President Reagan's Task Force on Regulatory Relief and
Executive Associate Director of the Office of Management
& Budget. Prior to being nominated to be FTC Chairman,
Muris was a professor at George
Mason University School of Law.
Views on Antitrust. Muris said little about how he
would act as Chairman. He addressed antitrust law in his
opening statement. He read a prepared
statement [PDF]: "Regarding antitrust, bipartisan
consensus also exists. Although there is disagreement about
cases at the margin, there is widespread agreement that the
purpose of antitrust is to protect consumers, that economic
analysis should guide case selection, and that horizontal
cases, both mergers and agreements among competitors, are the
mainstays of antitrust. Moreover, today there is bipartisan
recognition that antitrust is a way of organizing our economy.
A freely functioning market, subject to the rules of
antitrust, provides maximum benefit to consumers." Sen. Ernest Hollings
(D-SC), the ranking Democrat on the Committee, pressed him on
this topic; but he stated little else. Muris did add that
"I do think that one has to look closely at
monopolization" and "there are good monopolization
cases, and I would have no hesitation to bring a good case, if
I thought it was a good case."
Views on Online Privacy. Sens. McCain and Hollings both
asked about online privacy. McCain asked, "Do you agree
with the FTC's recommendation that Congress should enact
legislation to regulate the collection and use consumer
information on line?" Muris did not take a position.
"Obviously, it is a very important question. And, I think
the FTC has done several very beneficially things. It has
provided information to the Congress and to the public. It has
been partly responsible for making the issue as prominent as
it is. It has brought important cases, I think, in the areas
of deceptive and fraudulent spam, in pretexting, and identity
theft. It has had an excellent roll in that. ... The specific
issue of legislation is a new issue to me, and I have been,
I've been studying it. I think it is a very complex issue, and
at this time I have no specific legislative recommendation.
But, it is one that I would hope to be educated on by Members
of Congress, by privacy advocates, by business groups, and by
my future colleagues, if confirmed. Sen. Hollings pursued the
issue further, but Muris said little else. He added that
"the issue is really new to me" and "I am not
yet ready to say which type of legislation, if any, is
|5/16. The Senate
Commerce Committee also held a hearing on the nomination
of Bruce Mehlman to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for
Technology Policy. His hearing went smoothly. Like Muris, he
OTP. The Department of Commerce describes the role of
of Technology Policy (OTP) as follows: "to work in
partnership with the private sector to develop and advocate
national policies and initiatives that maximize technology's
contribution to U.S. economic growth". The OTP conducts
no licensing. It has no rule making or adjudicatory authority.
It does not hand out grants. It does not administer programs.
Essentially, it studies and advocates.
Mehlman Biography. Until recently, Mehlman was
Telecommunications Policy Counsel for Cisco Systems. Before that,
he worked as General Counsel and Policy Director to the House Republican
Conference, which is headed by Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK).
He worked on Y2K and other high tech issues. He also
previously worked as Legal Counsel to the National Republican Congressional
Committee (RNCC), where he specialized in compliance with
the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and Federal Election Commission (FEC)
regulations, and other political issues.
Bruce Mehlman is also another former associate of the law firm
of Wiley Rein & Fielding
to be named to a top technology post this year. Others include
Kevin Martin and Brian Tramont. Martin, one of President
Bush's nominees for FCC Commissioner, has his confirmation
hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee today. Tramont
was appointed Chief of Staff of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau last week.
Views on Privacy. Sen. McCain asked Mehlman about his
views on online privacy. Mehlman stated, "I probably
can't come here today with the silver bullet solution".
However, he promised to cooperate with the Congress, industry
and consumer representatives.
Internet Taxes. Sen.
George Allen (R-VA) asked him about Internet taxation.
Mehlman said "I think the voice that has been heard
across the Congress and the industry, we want to go slow with
this new very promising medium, and not rush into taxation
until the impact (inaudible phrase) has been the right
Intellectual Property. Sen. Allen also asked him about
his role in the protection of intellectual property of
American companies abroad. Mehlman said that "the
protection of intellectual property rights is essential to
promote the creative process and make investments in a lot of
technology and a lot of innovation worthwhile. At the same
time, online media present new challenges."
See also, TLJ story, "Cisco
Lobbyist Addresses High Tech Policy Issues", Oct. 20,
|The Senate will take up the Tax Reconciliation bill.
9:30 AM. The Senate
Commerce Committee held a hearing on on nominations for
the FCC. Location:
Room 253, Russell Building. The agenda includes:
• Michael Powell to be FCC Chairman.
• Kathleen Abernathy to be a FCC Commissioner.
• Kevin Martin to be a FCC Commissioner.
• Michael Copps to be a FCC Commissioner.
10:00 AM. The House
Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications
and the Internet will hold a hearing HR
1765, a bill to increase penalties for common carrier
violations of the Communications Act of 1934. Location: Room
2123, Rayburn House Office Building. The scheduled witnesses
• David Solomon (Chief, FCC Enforcement Bureau)
• Albert Halprin (Halprin
• Lawrence Sarjeant (VP, Regulatory Affairs, USTA).
• Royce Holland (C/CEO, Allegiance
10:00 AM. The Senate
Judiciary Committee has scheduled an executive business
meeting. The Committee may vote on the nomination of Ted
Olson to be Solicitor General. The Committee may also mark
487, the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization
Act of 2001 (TEACH Act), a bill to amend the exemption
to copyright infringement for education purposes to include
certain online educational activities. This Committee often
postpones matters. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate
Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, State, and the Judiciary will hold a hearing on
proposed budget estimates for FY 2002 for the FBI, Drug
Enforcement Administration, and INS.
Location: Room 192, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will hold
a hearing on several nominations, including that of John
Graham to be Administrator of the Office of Information
and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget.
Location: Room 342, Dirksen Building.
AM. The House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on
Government Efficiency, Financial Management, and
Intergovernmental Relations will hold a hearing titled
"Are Classified Computer Systems in the Federal
Government Adequately Protected?" It will meet in open
session at 10:00 AM, and in closed session at 1:30 PM.
Location: Room 2247, Rayburn Building.
1:00 PM. The House
Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Courts, the
Internet, and Intellectual Property will hold a hearing titled
Music On The Internet. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn
|Trade and Fast Track
|5/14. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans gave a speech
in Washington DC in which he advocated free trade, and fast
track trade promotion authority for the President.
5/15. Rep. Marcy Kaptur
(D-OH), a leading protectionist in the House, gave an speech
in the House in which she criticized President Bush's request
for "fast track," now also called "trade
promotion authority." She stated that Bush "knows
that Congress has repeatedly rejected Fast Track, most
recently in 1998. He also knows that he does not have the
support or votes in this Congress to pass this misguided
approach. ... Without congressional oversight and input, trade
agreements will be negotiated by unrepresentative delegates,
who were never elected, standing up for the rights of
international corporations, instead of our hardworking
constituents, not to mention that a thing called the
Constitution of the United States grants to Congress the right
to regulate commerce with foreign nations."
5/16. The Senate
Finance Committee held a confirmation hearing on many
nominations, including Linnet Deily and Peter
Allgeier to be Deputy USTRs. See, statement
[PDF] by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the
|SEC and Revenue Recognition
|5/16. The SEC instituted
an administrative proceeding against Microtest alleging that
it improperly recognized revenue from sales in various
quarterly and year end reports filed with the SEC, in
violation of §§ 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the
Exchange Act, and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, and 13a-13 thereunder.
Microtest and the SEC simultaneously settled the matter, with
Microtest agreeing to cease and desist from violating these
sections and rules. See, SEC
release. Microtest, which is based in Phoenix, Arizona,
makes network test and measurement products and network
storage and appliance servers.
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