Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
October 16, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 287.
TLJ Home Page | Calendar | Back Issues
House to Vote on Extension of Net Tax Ban
10/16. The House is scheduled to consider HR 1552, the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, under suspension of the rules. Under this procedure, the time for debate will be limited, no amendments will be permitted, and passage will require a two thirds majority.
This bill would extend the current moratorium on Internet access taxes, and multiple and discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce. The current three year ban expires on October 21. On October 10 the House Judiciary Committee approved an amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) that provides a two year extension. The original bill contained a five year extension. The Senate is also likely to take up extension legislation this week.
Senate to Hold Hearing On E-911
10/16. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold an oversight hearing on Tuesday morning, October 16, to examine the implementation of the Wireless Communication and Safety Act and the integration of emergency 911 technologies. The scheduled witnesses are Thomas Sugrue (Chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau), Michael Amarosa (TruePosition), Jenny Hansen (State of Montana), John Melcher (National Emergency Number Association), Brett Sewell (SnapTrack), and Thomas Wheeler (CTIA). Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the Chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, will preside.
Nextwave Settlement
10/16. The Washington Post reported in an October 16 story by Christopher Stern that "The nation's major mobile telephone companies have reached an agreement with NextWave Telecom Inc. in which they would pay almost $16 billion to end a five-year dispute over a slice of airwaves".
NextWave obtained spectrum licenses at FCC auctions in 1996. The FCC permitted NextWave to obtain the licenses under an installment plan, thus creating a debtor creditor relationship. NextWave did not make payments required by the plan, and filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. The FCC then cancelled the licenses. However, the FCC was blocked by the bankruptcy court, citing  525 of the Bankruptcy Code. The U.S. District Court (SNDY) affirmed. The U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCir) issued its order reversing and remanding the case on Nov. 24, 1999; it issued its opinion explaining its reversal in May 2000. The FCC then re-auctioned this spectrum to Verizon Wireless, Voice Stream and other successful bidders, which intend to use it for third generation wireless, and other, services.
NextWave next petitioned the FCC to reconsider its cancellation of its licenses. The FCC refused, and NextWave petitioned for review by the U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir). The DC Circuit ruled on June 22 that the 2nd Circuit had not already addressed NextWave's bankruptcy claims. It wrote in its opinion that the FCC "violated the provision of the Bankruptcy Code that prohibits governmental entities from revoking debtors' licenses solely for failure to pay debts dischargeable in bankruptcy. The Commission, having chosen to create standard debt obligations as part of its licensing scheme, is bound by the usual rules governing the treatment of such obligations in bankruptcy."
Even if the FCC, NextWave, and the re-auction winners reach a settlement, it is hypothetically possible that other communications companies that did not participate in the re-auction would bring legal challenges to the FCC's handling of this process.
Legislators Introduce Tech Talent Bill
10/15. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT) announced that they will introduce a bill named the "Tech Talent Bill" that would establish a competitive grant program through the National Science Foundation for undergraduate institutions pledging to increase the number of U.S. citizens or permanent residents obtaining degrees in science, math, engineering and technology fields. The bill would authorize $25 Million in FY02.
Rep. Boehlert is Chairman of the House Science Committee. Rep. Larson, who is also a member of the Committee, stated in a release that "In the wake of September 11, we must remember that there is a strong connection to be made between our national security and the level of science and technology proficiency in America." See also, Committee release.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Frist (R-TN), and Pete Domenici (R-NM) are sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate. See, Lieberman release.
USTR Discusses Trade, APEC and WTO Round
10/15. USTR Robert Zoellick held a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in which he addressed the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings scheduled for October 17-21 in Shanghai, China, the upcoming meeting in Doha, Qatar, and a new WTO round of trade negotiations. He was also asked about other issues. See, transcript.
More Documents
USDC: Order appointing Eric Green mediator in the Microsoft antitrust case, 10/12 (PDF, USDC).
FCC Commissioner Wants to Expand FCC Regulation
10/15. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps gave a speech in Washington DC in which he argued that the terrorist attacks of September 11 mean that the FCC should assume expanded regulatory authority, particularly with respect to the Internet. See, prepared text of speech.
"What does September 11 mean for how the FCC does business?", Copps asked himself rhetorically. He answered his own question: "I believe the Federal Communications Commission has a larger job to do".
The FCC, which has statutory mandates with respect to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and emergency 911 legislation, will likely pursue a more vigorous and expeditious implementation of these statutes. Copps referenced these topics. But, his speech was also littered with references to the Internet, cyberspace, and information systems -- all technologies over which the FCC now has no general statutory authority.
"The Commission must be in the vanguard of our homeland security efforts," said Commissioner Copps. He continued that the FCC's "participation in the homeland security effort is not only logical but also imperative. Truly secure and reliable telecommunications and cyberspace systems are no longer a luxury after September 11th."
The FCC is a regulatory commission made up of lawyers, lacking both technical expertise in, and statutory authority over, "cyberspace systems". One government agency with a mandate in this area is the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC). Commissioner Copps did name the source of this new FCC regulatory power: "public interest" references contained in the Communications Act of 1934.
He elaborated: "America will mobilize the great power of its communications and broadcast and information systems to serve the safety and security of all our people. In the final analysis, the safety of the people is the first and foremost responsibility of government."
Commissioner Copps spoke to the Federal Communications Bar Association, a Washington DC group made up largely of lawyers who practice before the FCC, work for large telecommunications companies, or work for the FCC.
September 11 Serves As Rationale for Tech Initiatives
10/15. OPINION. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, proponents of various technology related bills and regulatory initiatives have argued that events of September 11 mandate adoption of their proposals. Yet, many of these proposals predate September 11, and have little nexus to the events of September 11. Examples includes some provisions of the USA Act and PATRIOT Act, the Internet gambling provisions of the Financial Anti Terrorism Act, the Tech Talent Bill, and proposals to expand the regulatory authority of the FCC.
Late last week the House and Senate passed similar bills designed to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies increased authority to investigate and prosecute, including increased electronic surveillance powers. These bills, S 1510, the USA Act,  and HR 2975, the PATRIOT Act, no doubt enhance the ability of government agencies to fight terrorism. However, many of the provisions apply to crimes across the board, and not just to foreign intelligence gathering, terrorism, and related matters.
Similarly, on October 11 the House Financial Services Committee adopted an amended version of HR 3004, the Financial Anti Terrorism Act of 2001.  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)". What is the connection between the use of credit cards to place bets over the Internet, and terrorism?
Likewise, this week Representatives and Senators introduce bills to increase government funding for math and science education -- again, citing the events of September 11.
Finally, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps argued in a speech on October 15 that the September 11 means that the FCC "has a larger job to do".
Gov. Davis Signs School Computer Bill
10/15. California Gov. Gray Davis signed Senate Bill 388, a bill to facilitate the selling or leasing of computers and Internet appliances to students' parents by school districts. The bill provides that "a school district may sell or lease Internet appliances or personal computers to parents of pupils within the school district, for the purpose of providing access to the school district's educational computer network, at a standard price, not to exceed the cost incurred by the school district in purchasing the Internet appliance or personal computer." AB 388 was sponsored by Sen. Deirdre Alpert (D-San Diego).
About Tech Law Journal
Tech Law Journal is a free access web site and e-mail alert that provides news, records, and analysis of legislation, litigation, and regulation affecting the computer and Internet industry. This e-mail service is offered free of charge to anyone who requests it. Just provide TLJ an e-mail address.

Number of subscribers: 2,180.
Contact: 202-364-8882; E-mail.
P.O. Box 15186, Washington DC, 20003.
Privacy Policy
Notices & Disclaimers
Copyright 1998 - 2001 David Carney, dba Tech Law Journal. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, Oct 16
House will meet at 12:30 PM for morning hour and at 2:00 PM for legislative business. No recorded votes are expected before 6:00 PM. The House will consider a number of measures under suspension of the rules, including HR 1552, the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, which extends the existing Internet tax moratorium for two years.
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.
10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold an oversight hearing to examine the implementation of the Wireless Communication and Safety Act and the integration of emergency 911 technologies. Location: Room 253, Russell Building.
Wednesday, Oct 17
9:30 AM. The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Susan Bies and Mark Olson to be members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Location: Room 538, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The House Science Committee will hold a hearing titled Cyber Terrorism A View From the Gilmore Commission. Location: Room 2318, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to examine homeland defense matters. Location: Room 106, Dirksen Building.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Mass Media Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch. The speakers will be the FCC Commissioners' legal advisors on mass media issues: Susan Eid (Powell), Stacy Robinson (Abernathy), Susana Zwerling (Copps), and Catherine Bohigian (Martin). RSVP to Kathy Dole at kdole@npr.org. Location: National Public Radio, 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC.
Thursday, Oct 18
Day one of a three day conference of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). Location: Crystal Gate Marriott Hotel, 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia.
9:30 AM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet will hold a hearing titled "Transition to Digital Television: Progress on Broadcaster Buildout and Proposals to Expedite Return to Spectrum." Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) will preside. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral argument in Celtronix Telemetry v. FCC, No. 00-1400. 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 another program in its Seminar Series in Telecommunications Deregulation. This event is titled "On Refusing to Deal with Rivals." The speaker will be Glen Robinson of the University of Virginia School of Law. 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.
10:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property will hold a hearing titled Intellectual Property Litigation. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.
12:00 NOON. The Heritage Foundation will host a panel discussion titled "Freedom and Security: Preserving Constitutional Liberties in Times of War." The speakers will be Jennifer Neustead (Office of Legal Policy, DOJ), Lee Casey (Baker & Hostettler), Todd Gaziano (Heritage), and Ed Meese (Heritage). Location: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC.
2:00 PM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on pending nominations. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
2:30 - 4:00 PM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a panel discussion titled "Trade Promotion Authority -- What's the Bottom Line for Congress?" The speakers will be Jagdish Bhagwati (Columbia University), I.M. Destler (University of Maryland), Brink Lindsey (Cato Institute), and Daniel Tarullo (Georgetown University). See, online registration page. Location: AEI Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, 1150 17th Street, NW, Washington DC.
Friday, Oct 19
Day two of a three day conference of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). Location: Crystal Gate Marriott Hotel, 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia.