|Brownback Introduces ILEC
|6/27. Sen. Sam
Brownback (R-KS) introduced S 1126 [PDF]
and S 1127
[PDF] in the Senate. S 1126 is titled the "Broadband
Deployment and Competition Enhancement Act of 2001". S
1127 is titled the "Rural Broadband Deployment Act of
2001". Both are intended to incent the local phone
companies to deploy of DSL services. Both follow the
regulatory relief approach of the Tauzin Dingell bill, HR
1542. S 1126 would remove certain requirements imposed on
incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) by Section
251 of the Telecom Act of 1996 when providing broadband
services. S 1127 would provide further regulatory relief to
ILECs, but applies only to rural areas.
"My singular objective, in both bills, is high-speed
Internet access for everybody in America by 2007," said
Sen. Brownback in a statement [PDF]
in the Senate. "New approaches will be needed to achieve
universal broadband availability. Some of my colleagues have
introduced legislation consisting of tax incentives or loan
subsidies. Programs such as these can help to deliver on the
commitment to make broadband universally available, but these
proposals alone will not achieve that goal. Deregulation has a
key role to play in this effort." He continued that
"The broadband market, distinct from the local telephone
market, is new. Yet, federal and State regulators are placing
local telephone competition regulations on broadband-specific
facilities deployed by incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs)
– the only regulated broadband service providers – as if
they were part and parcel of their local telephone service.
This is simply not the case. The local telephone market is not
synonymous with the broadband market. The disparate regulatory
treatment of phone companies deploying broadband and all other
broadband service providers is serving to deny broadband to
many rural communities."
|DC Circuit Denies Petition
for Review in E-911 Case
|6/29. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DDC) issued its opinion
in U.S. Cellular v. FCC,
a petition for review of an FCC order pertaining to deployment
of new emergency 911 technologies. Wireless carriers argued
that the order contravenes the cost causation principle
contained in CompTel v. FCC,
is arbitrary and capricious, violates the Regulatory
Flexibility Act, and amounts to an unconstitutional taking.
The Appeals Court denied the petition.
|6/29. The FTC sent a letter
to the State of North Dakota stating that North Dakota's
financial privacy statute is not preempted by the Gramm
Leach Bliley Act. The FTC opined that the two statutes are
not inconsistent. See, FTC release.
See also, North Dakota Disclosure of Customer Information law,
N.D. Cent. Code, ch. 6-08.1-01 to 6-08.1-08 (amended 2001),
and Subtitle A of Title V of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act, 15
U.S.C. §§ 6801-6809.
2421, the Jurisdictional Certainty Over Digital Commerce
Act, 6/28 (HTML, TLJ).
the Broadband Deployment and Competition Enhancement Act of
2001, 6/28 (HTML, Brownback).
the Rural Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, 6/28 (HTML,
107-120 re HR 1866, a bill re patent reexamination, 6/29
107-121 re HR 1886, a bill re patent reexamination, 6/29
re energy vampires, 6/28 (HTML, WH).
to North Dakota re financial privacy provisions of GLB Act and
preemption, 6/29 (HTML, FTC).
in U.S. Cellular v. FCC re E-911, 6/29 (HTML, USCA).
|Stearns Introduces Bill to
Limit State Jurisdiction over Digital Transactions
|6/28. Rep. Cliff
Stearns (R-FL) and others introduced HR
2421, the "Jurisdictional Certainty Over Digital
Commerce Act". The bill would bar states from regulating
the sale of digital goods and services over the Internet. It
would provide a single legal standard in the U.S. covering the
sale of downloaded software, e-books, games, and other
products, as well as services.
The bill states that "Responsibility and authority to
regulate digital commercial transactions is reserved solely to
the Federal Government" and that "No State or
political subdivision thereof may enact or enforce any law,
rule, regulation, standard, or other provision having the
force or effect of law that regulates, or has the effect of
regulating, digital commercial transactions." The bills
also defines "digital commercial transaction" as
"a commercial transaction for a digital good or digital
service that is carried out in its entirety by means of the
Internet." The bill contains several exceptions,
including state regulation pertaining to health, safety,
fraud, and crimes. It also exempts telecommunications
The bill also contains the findings that "digital
commercial transactions in digital goods and digital services
are inherently interstate in nature" and that "State
regulation of such digital commercial transactions creates
significant and harmful burdens on interstate commerce".
Rep. Stearns said in a release
that "It is important to inject jurisdictional certainty
with respect to commercial transaction in digital goods and
services. Having 50-plus separate, and at times incongruent,
regulations governing interstate commercial transactions poses
a substantial burden to interstate commerce in general, and to
Rep. Stearns is the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee's
Commerce, Trade & Consumer Protection Subcommittee. The
other original cosponsors are Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY),
Charles Bass (R-NH), Nathan Deal (R-GA), and Greg Walden
|Supreme Court Denies Cert
in Metro PCS Case
|6/29. The Supreme
Court of the U.S. denied certiorari in U.S. v. General
Wireless Inc. PCS. See, Order
List at pages 17-18. General Wireless, which is now named
Metro PCS, intends to provide cellular service in several
cities using code division multiple access (CDMA) technology.
The Supreme Court, without opinion, declined to review a
decision of the bankruptcy court allowing Metro PCS to keep 14
personal communications service (PCS) spectrum licenses that
it had obtained at an FCC auction, after paying only a part of
its auction bids. As in the NextWave case, the FCC had sought
to cancel the spectrum licenses, and re-auction the spectrum.
(See, Docket No. 00-1621.)
|More Supreme Court News
|6/29. The Supreme Court of the U.S. denied certiorari in
Tuvell v. Microsoft. See, Order
List at page 11. See also, "unpublished" opinion
of the U.S. Court of Appeals (1stCir). (Docket No. 00-1784.)
6/29. The Supreme Court of the U.S. issued a recess order. It
stated that "The Court will take a recess from today
until Monday, October 1, 2001." See, Order
List at page 20.
|Bush Calls PCs Energy
|6/28. President Bush gave a speech
at the Department of Energy in Washington DC in which he
described certain electronic equipment, such as PCs, as energy
"vampires". He stated that "I want to talk
about what's called vampires, and announce to the nation the
new vampire slayer, and that's the Secretary of Energy, Spence
Abraham. Because of our desire for instant convenience,
many of the appliances in our homes carry unnecessarily high
energy costs. Because we're used to a computer coming on
instantly or a TV snapping on as a result of a remote switch,
common day appliances eat enormous amounts of energy.
The Consumer Electronics
Association was not amused. It issued a release
in which it stated that "to refer to our products as
energy monsters is misleading and inaccurate." It
continued that "In many cases, our products are part of
the solution to the energy debate. Many home networking
products help save energy by providing increased control over
home heating, cooling and lighting systems. Information
technology and telecommunications products allow teleworking
and remote access to information and entertainment content,
both of which save fuel and reduce smokestack emissions.
Consumers who stay home and enjoy a movie on their home
theater also help save fuel and reduce air pollution." It
concluded that "encouraging the adoption of unnecessary
and more restrictive energy consumption criteria threatens a
manufacturers ability to provide competitively priced products
with compelling features that meet consumer demand for
performance. In short, asking the public to pay more for less
disregards consumers' interests. Consumers who seek energy
efficient products can find them in the marketplace
|The Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert will not be
published on July 4, 5 or 6.
|6/28. The House
Judiciary Committee issued its reports on HR 1866 (Report
107-120) and HR 1886 (Report
107-121), both of which pertain to patent reexaminations.
Both bills were approved by the Committee on June 20 by
unanimous voice votes.
6/29. The Information
Technology Association of America (ITAA) praised FCC
Chairman Michael Powell for writing a letter
[PDF] on June 27 to Commerce Secretary Don Evans regarding third
generation wireless services. Powell wrote that
"additional time is necessary to allow the Commission and
the Executive Branch to complete a careful and complete
evaluation of the various possible options for making
additional spectrum available for advanced wireless
services." See, ITAA
|6/29. Peter Doyle was named Chief of the FCC's Mass
Media Bureau's Audio Services Division.
6/29. Jim Harper was named an Adjunct Fellow of the Progress and Freedom Foundation
(PFF), a Washington DC based non profit organization that
studies technology policy. Harper focuses on privacy and
e-commerce issues. He is also the principal of the PolicyCounsel.Com
consulting firm, and the Editor of Privacilla.org.
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