|House Committee Passes
Internet Gambling Ban
|10/11. The House
Financial Services Committee adopted an amended version of
HR 3004, the Financial Anti Terrorism Act of 2001, by a vote
of 62 to 1. See, the manager's
amendment [PDF], which was approved. Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH),
the Chairman of the Committee, and the sponsor of the bill,
said in his opening
statement that the bill "will strengthen the ability
of law enforcement to disrupt the financing of terrorism,
enhance the partnership between government and industry to
detect terrorist related transactions, and prevent terrorists
from accessing the U.S. financial system through foreign
countries and institutions." See also, committee
However, the bill also contains, at §§ 307 and 308,
provisions which are aimed at Internet gambling. This language
is similar to stand alone bills that the Committee has been
§ 307 provides, in part, that "No person engaged in the
business of betting or wagering may knowingly accept, in
connection with the participation of another person in
unlawful Internet gambling (1) credit, or the proceeds of
credit, extended to or on behalf of such other person
(including credit extended through the use of a credit card);
(2) an electronic fund transfer or funds transmitted by or
through a money transmitting business, or the proceeds of an
electronic fund transfer or money transmitting service, from
or on behalf of the other person; or (3) the proceeds of any
other form of financial transaction as the Secretary may
prescribe by regulation which involves a financial institution
as a payor or financial intermediary on behalf of or for the
benefit of the other person."
|Senators Introduce Bill to
Extend Net Tax Ban
|10/10. Sen. George Allen
(R-VA), Sen. Barbara Boxer
(D-CA), Sen. Conrad Burns
(R-MT), Sen. Judd Gregg
(R-NH), and Sen. John
Warner (R-VA) introduced S 1525, the Defense of
Internet Tax Freedom Act, a bill to extend the moratorium on
Internet access taxes and multiple and discriminatory taxes
for five years. The existing moratorium, contained in the
Internet Tax Freedom Act, expires on October 21.
Sen. Boxer stated in the Senate that "Because Internet
commerce and technology firms are not now fairing well, I
support a five year extension of the tax moratorium. I believe
that renewed investment in the Internet is crucial to the
welfare of the entire economy and we need to support its
growth as much now as we did in 1998. Through a clean
extension of the tax moratorium, Congress can promote an
environment for Internet growth that avoids the uncertainty,
inefficiencies, and barriers to entry that new taxes would
Sen. Allen stated in the Senate that "by taxing Internet
access, States and localities are actually contributing to an
already growing economic 'digital divide.' For every dollar
added to the cost of Internet access, we can expect to see
lost utilization of the Internet by thousands of poor and
impoverished families nationwide."
|Fed Circuit Reverses in
Asyst v. Empak
|10/10. The U.S.
Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Asyst
v. Empak, a patent infringement case
involving semiconductor manufacturing. Asyst Technologies provides
integrated automation systems for the semiconductor
manufacturing industry. It is the assignee of U.S.
Patent No. 4,974,166, titled "Processing systems with
intelligent article tracking", and U.S.
Patent No. 5,097,421, titled "Intelligent waxer
carrier". They describe systems used in processing
semiconductor wafers into integrated circuits. Asyst filed a
complaint in U.S.
District Court (NDCal) against Empak, Jenoptik and others,
alleging infringement. The District Court ruled on summary
judgment that defendants did not infringe Asyst's patents. The
Court of Appeals ruled that the District Court's claim
construction and analysis was flawed. Reversed and remanded.
|USTR to Appeal WTO FSC
|10/10.The U.S. Trade
Representative (USTR) announced that the U.S. will appeal
a World Trade Organization (WTO)
ruling that the U.S. foreign sales corporation (FSC)
replacement statute constitutes an illegal export subsidy.
On August 20 a WTO panel made public its final report on the
legality of the FSC Repeal and Extraterritorial Income
Exclusion Act of 2000. The Congress passed, and former
President Clinton signed, this Act late last year. It replaced
the FSC provisions of US tax law, which had previously been
held to constitute an illegal export subsidy by the WTO.
The FSC tax regime, and its replacement, benefit US exporters,
including software and hardware producers with significant
sales abroad, such as Microsoft, Cisco, and Motorola. The EU
has complained to the WTO about these tax regimes.
|More Trade News
|10/11. Sen. Max Baucus
(D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance
Committee, gave a speech
on trade promotion authority. The House Ways and Means
Committee passed HR 3005,
the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001, by a
vote of 26 to 13 on October 9. It is sponsored by Rep. Bill Thomas
(R-CA), Rep. Cal Dooley
(D-CA), and others. Sen. Baucus stated that the House bill
"addresses a number of the key issues that many Members
of Congress have expressed support for. I was especially
pleased to see many of the measures I have been pushing -
particularly on labor and environment - were included in this
legislation. The Thomas Dooley bill is far from perfect. But
it is a good effort and an important step in the right
10/9. WTO Director General
Mike Moore gave a speech
in Paris titled "Preparations for the Fourth WTO
Ministerial Conference." The 4th WTO Ministerial
Conference will take place in Doha, Qatar, next month.
|Anti Terrorism Bills Still
|10/11. On Thursday, October 11, the House debated and passed
a bill to make appropriations for the Departments of Labor,
Health and Human Services, and Education, and related
agencies. The House has not yet passed its anti terrorism
bill, HR 2975,
the PATRIOT Act. Also on October 11, the Senate passed S 1447,
the Aviation Security Act. The Senate has yet to pass its anti
terrorism bill, S 1510,
the USA Act.
|Interception of Computer
|10/11. Senators have agreed to debate four amendments
offered by Sen. Russ
Feingold (D-WI) to the Senate anti terrorism bill, S 1510.
One amendment pertains to § 217, regarding interception
of computer trespasser communications. This section is
intended to enable companies and other entities obtain the
assistance of law enforcement agencies to fight distributed
denial of service, and other, attacks on their systems.
As currently written, § 217 provides, in part, that
"It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person
acting under color of law to intercept the wire or electronic
communications of a computer trespasser, if -- (i) the owner
or operator of the protected computer authorizes the
interception of the computer trespasser's communications on
the protected computer; (ii) the person acting under color of
law is lawfully engaged in an investigation; (iii) the person
acting under color of law has reasonable grounds to believe
that the contents of the computer trespasser's communications
will be relevant to the investigation; and (iv) such
interception does not acquire communications other than those
transmitted to or from the computer trespasser."
§ 217 further defines "computer trespasser" as
"a person who accesses a protected computer without
authorization and thus has no reasonable expectation of
privacy in any communication transmitted to, through, or from
the protected computer". However, a computer trespasser
does not include "a person known by the owner or operator
of the protected computer to have an existing contractual
relationship with the owner or operator of the protected
computer for access to all or part of the protected
Sen. Feingold's amendment would limit the surveillance under
§ 217 to electronic communications. It would also
provide that it is the trespassory communications, and not the
trespasser, that the government is allowed to monitor. It
would also limit the duration of surveillance under this
section to 48 hours.
|FCC Dismisses Texas.net
|10/5. The FCC released its order
[PDF] dismissing Texas
Networking, Inc.'s complaint
and petition seeking a declaratory ruling that AOL Time
Warner (AOLTW) has not complied with the FCC's Memorandum
Opinion and Order released January 22, 2001 in its AOL Time
Warner merger proceeding. Texas.net alleged in its August 9
complaint that AOLTW has not complied with the provisions
regarding allowing access by unaffiliated ISPs to AOLTW's
|Oct 11 FCC Meeting
|Multi-Association Group (MAG) Plan. The FCC
announced, but did not release, at its October 11 meeting, an
Order and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it
modified its interstate access charge rules and universal
service support system for rate of return ILECs.
release. (CC Docket Nos. 00-256, 98-77 and 98-166.)
Accounting Rules. The FCC announced, but did not
release, a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking modifying its accounting rules and its financial
and operating data reporting requirements for ILECs.
release. (CC Docket Nos. 00-199, 97-212, 80-286, 00-199,
99-301 and 80-286.)
Exclusive Contracts. The FCC announced, but did not
release, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which
initiates a proceeding to examine whether or not to extend the
prohibition on exclusive contracts for satellite delivered
cable or satellite delivered broadcast programming between
vertically integrated programming vendors and cable operators.
release. (CS Docket No. 01-290.)
Digital TV Task Force. FCC Chairman Michael Powell
announced the creation of an FCC Digital Television (DTV) Task
Force, to be chaired by Rick Chessen, Associate Chief of the
FCC's Mass Media Bureau. This task force will review the
ongoing transition to DTV, and make recommendations to the FCC
concerning priorities to facilitate the transition and promote
the rapid recovery of broadcast spectrum for other uses. See, FCC
NCE DTV. The FCC announced, but did not release, a
Report and Order regarding ancillary or supplementary use of
digital TV capacity by noncommercial licensees. The FCC ruled
that Noncommercial Educational (NCE) Television licensees are
required to use their entire digital television (DTV)
bitstream capacity primarily for nonprofit, noncommercial,
educational broadcast services. See, FCC
by Chairman Powell, and statement
by Commissioner Copps. (MM Docket No. 98-203).
|Rep. Stearns to Outline
|Rep. Cliff Stearns
(R-FL), announced that he will hold a press conference on
Friday, October 12, to discuss possible provisions for a
federal baseline privacy statute. He stated in a release that
"The free flow of this information yields major economic
benefits. At the same time, consumers have legitimate concerns
over the availability and use of their personal information
– concerns that could impede the growth of e-commerce and
other information-based activities. My goal, and that of the
Committee, is to address these concerns without unduly
burdening these vital industries."
Rep. Stearns is the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee's
on Commerce, Trade & Consumer Protection. This
subcommittee has held nine hearings this year that have
addressed privacy issues.
|Friday, Oct 12
|9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. The National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
will hold a day long conference on the status of broadband
deployment in the United States. See, NTIA
release and agenda.
Location: U.S. Department of Commerce, Hoover Building, 1401
Constitution Ave., NW, Room 4830, Washington DC.
9:30 AM. The U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will
hear oral argument in U.S. Telecom Association v. FBI,
No. 00-5386. Judges Ginsburg, Williams and Henderson will
preside. Location: 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC.
10:00 AM. Rep. Cliff
Stearns (R-FL), Rep.
Billy Tauzin (R-LA), and other members of the House Commerce Committee
will hold a press conference to outline possible provisions
for a federal baseline privacy statute. Location: Room
2218, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The The Senate
Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Technology,
Terrorism, and Government Information will hold a hearing to
examine the role of technology in preventing the entry of
terrorists into the United States. Sen. Russ Feingold
(D-WI) will preside. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate
Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to
examine legislative options to strengthen homeland defense.
Location: Room 342, Dirksen Building.
|Tuesday, Oct 16
|9:30 AM. The U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will
hear oral argument in COMSAT Corp v. FCC, No. 00-1458.
Judges Ginsburg, Williams and Henderson will preside.
Location: 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC.
9:30 - 11:30 AM. The American
Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a seminar at which Jeffrey
Rohlfs (Strategic Policy Research, Inc.) will present his
new book titled Bandwagon
Effects in High Technology Industries. He will also
address the role of bandwagon effects in the debate among
economists and policy analysts over whether governments should
set technical standards. The price to attend is $5 (waived for
AEI supporters, government employees, and media). Location:
AEI, Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, 1150 17th
Street, NW, Washington DC.
|Davis Signs Tech Schools
|10/11. California Gov. Gray Davis signed Assembly
Bill 620, sponsored by Assembly Member Howard Wayne (D-San
Diego). This bill creates a High Tech High School Grant
Program "to provide 10 one-time grants to eligible school
districts or charter schools for purposes of establishing new
high-tech high schools."
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