Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
May 29, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 196.
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Nominations and Confirmations
5/25. The Senate approved by unanimous consent several nominations to the FCC (Michael Powell, Michael Copps, Kevin Martin, and Kathleen Abernathy) and the FTC (Timothy Muris). See, Commerce Committee release. This leaves both the FCC and FTC with three Republicans and two Democrats. In addition, FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, who is a Democrat from New Mexico, will likely resign soon to run for the Senate against Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM). By law, she must be replaced by a Democrat.
5/25. The Senate confirmed several nominations to the Department of Commerce, including Bruce Mehlman, Kathleen Cooper, and Mari Cino.
5/26. The Senate confirmed the nominations of Peter Allgeier and Linnet Deily to be Deputy U.S. Trade Representatives.
5/25. Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) withdrew his name from consideration for nomination by President Bush to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The prospective nomination had been opposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
5/23. James Jochum was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Export Administration at the Department of Commerce. See, release.
Bill Would Amend Rules Affecting Internet Education
5/24. Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE), and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced HR 1992, the Internet Equity and Education Act of 2001. The bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to expand the opportunities for higher education via the Internet. Currently, the HEA limits the amount of aid a student enrolled in distance education courses delivered via telecommunications may receive if the institution offers half or more of its courses by correspondence or telecommunications. HR 1992 would remove this limitation for postsecondary institutions that are already participating in the federal student loan programs with student loan default rates under 10%. The bill would also repeal of a 12-hour rule with respect to non-standard term programs. This rule governs the amount of "seat-time" students must spend in class per week. Finally, the bill addresses incentive compensation. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. See also, Isakson statement in Congressional Record, Isakson release, and McKeon statement in Congressional Record.
Bill Would Provide Gov Loans for Rural Broadband Deployment
5/25. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) introduced S 966, the Rural Broadband Enhancement Act, a bill to amend the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act to encourage deployment of broadband service to rural America. It was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Sen. Dorgan is a member. Sen. Dorgan stated that "To remedy the gap between urban and rural America, this legislation gives new authority to the Rural Utilities Service in consultation with NTIA to make low interest loans to companies that are deploying broadband technology to rural America." He added that "When we were faced with electrifying all of the country, we enacted the Rural Electrification Act. When telephone service was only being provided to well-populated communities, we expanded the Rural Electrification Act and created the Rural Utilities Service to oversee rural telephone deployment. The equitable deployment of broadband services is only the next step in keeping America connected, and our legislation would ensure that."   
5/25. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) introduced HR 2038, the House version of the Rural Broadband Enhancement Act. It was referred to the House Commerce Committee, of which Rep. Stupak is a member, and to the House Agriculture Committee.
Another Depreciation Bill Introduced
5/22. Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL) and 28 others introduced HR 1934, the Printed Circuit Investment Act of 2001, a bill to reduce to 3 years the depreciation period for "any printed wiring board or printed wiring assembly equipment." The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Rep. Crane is a senior member.
Domain Names
5/25. The NTIA published in its web site Amendment 3 and Amendment 24 to the DOC/NSI Cooperative Agreement. See also, ICANN release.
Privacy: EPIC Alleges Jeeves' Purchase of eTour Data Violates Law
5/25. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sent a letter to the FTC and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) alleging that Ask Jeeves' purchase of eTour's personal information of Internet users violates federal and state laws. EPIC asked the FTC and states "to block the sale of personal information from eTour, Inc. to Ask Jeeves, Inc. as an unfair and deceptive trade practice." EPIC also wrote that "the exchange of personal data between eTour, Inc. and Ask Jeeves, Inc. is part of a growing problem" and recommended "proactive solutions to prevent such scenarios from occurring in the future." EPIC elaborated that the "assets purchased by Ask Jeeves, Inc. from eTour, Inc. include the registration information from an estimated 4.5 million users and a list of 2.2 million e-mail newsletter subscribers."
Weller and Matsui Introduce Global E-Commerce Resolution
5/24. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL) and Rep. Bob Matsui (D-CA) introduced HRes 151, a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the importance of promoting fair, efficient, and simple cross-border tax collection regimes that maintain market neutrality and promote free trade on all sales distribution channels within a globally networked economy. It was was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, of which both Weller and Matsui are members.
The resolution would express the sense of the House that the "Secretary of the Treasury should proactively seek to identify and resolve tax policy issues that will globally impact cross-border trade through the Internet". It also would provide that "the United States should work in good faith with our trading partners to ensure that any tax collection regimes that attempt to impose tax collection obligations on sellers outside the borders of the taxing jurisdiction promote the continued growth of electronic commerce by (A) imposing no greater administrative burdens or compliance obligations on Internet sellers than on any other seller; (B) providing simple and clear rules that allow the seller to identify, with certainty, the amount of the tax that must be collected, and that limit a seller's liability in situations where the seller has made commercially reasonable efforts to determine the correct tax; (C) allowing sellers to rely on customer-provided information available during the course of a transaction to determine the appropriate taxing jurisdiction; (D) taxing Internet sales the same as similar products sold through traditional, physical distribution channels, including applying the same tax rates to online sales and extending exemptions and thresholds to online sales; and (E) incorporating rules that require sellers and governments to respect the privacy interests of consumers."
Wilmer Cutler Hires Former FCC Brass
5/22. Kathryn Brown joined the Washington DC office of the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering as a partner in the firm's Communications and Electronic Commerce group. She is a former Chief of Staff and Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau at the FCC. See, WCP release.
In March, Jonathan Neuchterlein joined the Washington DC office of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering as a partner in the firm's Communications and Electronic Commerce group. He is a former Deputy General Counsel of the FCC and Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General. See, WCP release.
5/25. Catherine Ronis joined the Washington DC office of the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering as a partner in the firm's Communications and Electronic Commerce group. Ronis was previously a partner at Skadden Arps. Her practices focuses on litigation involving the interconnection provisions of the Telecom Act of 1996. See, WCP release.
Perkins Coie Names New Partners and Of Counsel
5/22. The Seattle based law firm of Perkins Coie announced the promotion of 17 partners and 2 of counsel. See, release.
San Francisco office: Nicole Wong, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Bay Area Content Group, focuses on Internet, intellectual property and media law. Rachel Silvers, who was promoted to of counsel, also focuses on Internet, intellectual property and media law.
Seattle office: Steven Lawrenz, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Patent Group, focuses on computer software patent matters. Paul Parker, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Patent Group, focuses on patents for semiconductor fabrication, mechanical devices and processes, trademark prosecution and litigation, patent licensing, technology transfer and intellectual property. Brent Snyder, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Litigation Department, focuses on intellectual property and antitrust litigation and First Amendment issues. Robert Woolston, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Patent Group, focuses on domestic and international mechanical engineering patent prosecution, trademark prosecution, domain name transactions and intellectual property counseling.
Bellevue office: Michael Martin, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Technology Business Group, focuses on computer, multimedia and Internet law, including technology licensing, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, and emerging companies and private placements.
Arnold & Porter
5/16. Michael Songer and Robert Worrall joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter as partner and of counsel, respectively. Songer focuses on electrical and mechanical patent litigations. He also handles trademark, copyright and Internet disputes, including cybersquatter and other domain name infringements, website disputes, jurisdiction and evidence issues, and free speech cases. Songer is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches the Law of Cyberspace. He was previously a partner at Brobeck Phleger & Harrison. Worrall is a patent litigator. See, release.
Bush Tax Package Passes
5/26. The House adopted the Conference Report on HR 1836, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, by a vote of 240 to 154, on May 25. See, Roll Call No. 149. This is President Bush's tax relief package. The Senate approved the bill on Saturday, May 26, by a vote of 58 to 33.
The House and Senate are in recess this week for the Memorial Day District Work Period.
10:30 - 12:00 AM. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology is sponsoring a tutorial by Paul Steffes, Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He will address scientific uses of spectrum, including the Radio Astronomy Service, the Earth Exploration Satellite Service, and the Space Research Service. See, release. Location: FCC, Commission Meeting Room (TWC-305), 445 12th Street, SW, Washington DC.
12:00 NOON. Outgoing FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky will speak to the Summer Associate Program of Arnold & Porter. Location: Arnold & Porter, 555 12th Street, NW, Washington DC.
1:30 - 3:30 PM. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology is sponsoring a tutorial by Vincent Poor, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. The purpose of the presentation is to increase understanding of statistical signal processing, primarily as applied to problems in wireless multiple access communications. Research in this area has resulted in the development of novel signal reception techniques for emerging wireless communication systems, such as the wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) systems currently being developed for voice and data (multimedia) applications. See, release. Location: FCC, Commission Meeting Room (TWC-305), 445 12th Street, SW, Washington DC.
Wednesday, May 30
5:30 - 7:30 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's Common Carrier Practice Committee will host a CLE Seminar titled Telecommunications 201. The scheduled speakers are Cheryl Tritt (Morrison & Foerster), Charles Kennedy (Morrison & Foerster), Jane Jackson (Chief of the FCC's Competitive Pricing Division), John Nakahata (Harris Wiltshire & Grannis), Kathy Levitz (BellSouth), and Jeffrey Linder (Wiley Rein & Fielding). The price to attend is $60 (members) or $80 (non-members). RSVP to Arlice Johnson at Location: Wiley Rein & Fielding, 10th Floor Conference Room, 1750 K Street, NW, Washington DC.
Deadline to file reply comments with the FCC in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding revisions to the method of subsidizing schools and libraries under its e-rate program when there is insufficient funding to support all requests. See, Federal Register, May 8, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 89, at Pages 23204 - 23208.
Representatives Criticize IRS Misuse of Internet
5/24. Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) stated on the House floor that "IRS employees used about half their on-line time at work to visit sex sites, gamble, trade stocks and visit chat rooms"; he cited stories by the Washington Times and Scripps Howard News Service. He concluded that "Federal employees who use work computers to visit sex sites, gamble, trade stocks and visit chat rooms are underworked, overpaid and should be fired." Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) had this to say in the House on May 25: "IRS agents illegally used their computers for shopping, stock trading, gambling and pormography. Unbelievable. Think about it. While 60 percent of taxpayer calls to the IRS go unanswered, the IRS agents were watching Marilyn Chambers do the Rotary International. Beam me up ..."
PRC Trade
5/24. Rep. James Traficant (D-OH), who regularly gives flamboyant one minute speeches in the House, stated that "China illegally bought U.S. microchips to build new missiles and to aim them at the United States of America. Mr. Speaker, beam me up. The American taxpayers are funding World War III, so help me God. I yield back the fact that the nature of a dragon is not to negotiate with its prey. The nature of a dragon is to kill its prey."
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