Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
January 9, 2002, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 342.
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Sen. Grassley Condemns IRS for 2,300 Missing Computers
1/7. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to Mitch Daniels, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), regarding missing computers at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report dated November 29, 2001, titled "Management Advisory Report: Review of Lost or Stolen Sensitive Items of Inventory at the Internal Revenue Service". This report states that "For the past 3 years, the IRS reported approximately 2,300 missing computers".
Sen. Grassley wrote that "the TIGTA report underscores what appears to be a carefree attitude by the IRS about losing computers purchased with taxpayer money -- the IRS doesn't even know how many of the computers are lost, stolen or damaged. Nor, does there appear to be any serious effort to hold accountable those responsible for the missing computers. Let me be clear that the 2,300 missing computers covers only a three-year period."
"Sadly, all this from the IRS -- an agency that requires taxpayers to show every receipt -- can't find 2,300 computers. The IRS wouldn't accept from a taxpayer the non-answer it has given regarding the missing 2,300 computers," wrote Grassley.
"Just as a taxpayer would be held accountable for missing receipts, so must the IRS be held accountable for missing 2,300 computers. It is my view that serious consideration should be given to placing a limitation on the IRS' budget until there is real improvement -- not real promises -- in inventory management."
The TIGTA report states that there are "2,332 missing laptop computers, microcomputers, and micro servers for the past 3 years. " Furthermore, "As of September 30, 2001, the IRS reported that it had approximately 163,000 laptop computers, microcomputers, and micro servers in its inventory."
On the other hand, the TIGTA report minimizes the threat of loss of classified data, and unauthorized access to IRS networks. The report states that "The IRS reported that to its knowledge, no lost or stolen computers contained classified data. The IRS’ policy is that no classified data be maintained on employees' computers."
The report continues that "The IRS does not use any modems that would be termed an “internal secure modem.” Therefore, access to IRS networks through any missing computers is unlikely. To gain access to IRS networks or internal database systems, one must first be able to logon to the computer itself. This entails the use of a username and password. Second, once into the IRS’ intranet, one would not only have to go through an additional logon process for a given system, but would also have to be recognized by that system as a person authorized to gain access."
FCC Backs Away from Enforcing Indecency Rule
1/8. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an order [PDF] in which it rescinded a previous Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) of a radio station for broadcasting apparent indecent music. One FCC Commissioner, Michael Copps, criticized the retreat.
The order rescinds a NAL of radio station KKMG FM in Colorado. 18 U.S.C. § 1464 provides that "Whoever utters any obscene, indecent, or profane language by means of radio communication shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both." An FCC rule, codified at 47 C.F.R. § 73.3999, implements this prohibition. The music lyrics at issue are reproduced in ¶ 8 of the order.
In the just released order, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau concluded that "we disagree with our initial analysis and we now conclude that the material at issue was not patently offensive under contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium. Accordingly, we conclude that the licensee did not violate the applicable statute or our indecency rule, and that no sanction is warranted".
Commissioner Copps issued a statement: "On June 1, 2001, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability concerning the broadcast of an edited version of “The Real Slim Shady.” It was a controversial finding. Today the Bureau rescinds this finding. In a matter of this importance, I believe the Commissioners themselves, rather than the Bureau, should be making the decision about whether to reverse the initial finding. Issues of indecency on the people’s airwaves are important to millions of Americans; they are important to me. I believe they merit, indeed compel, Commissioner level action."
Rep. Boucher Questions RIAA about Copy Protection Technology
1/4. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) sent a letter to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) P/CEO Hillary Rosen and IFPI Chairman Jay Berman regarding CD and DVD copy protection, and consumer rights under copyright law. He wrote that "record labels have begun releasing compact discs into the market which apparently have been designed to limit the ability of consumers to play the discs or record on personal computers and perhaps on other popular consumer products, such as DVD players, video game consoles, and even some CD players, for traditional fair-use purposes such as space shifting."
This, wrote Boucher, "may prevent or inhibit consumer home recording using recorders and media covered by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (AHRA)."
The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, Public Law 102-563, is codified in Chapter 10 of the Copyright Act. See, 17 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. It was passed in response to the music industry's shift from the use of analog formats, such as vinyl records and audio tapes, to the digital format of CDs. The AHRA permits manufacturers to sell digital audio recording technology to consumers, who can then use it to copy for private non commercial use. In return, the AHRA sets up a royalty fund to compensate copyright owners for losses resulting from such use.
In particular, 17 U.S.C. § 1008 provides that "No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings." §§ 1003 - 1007 establish the associated royalty payment system.
Rep. Boucher's letter also propounds five interrogatories regarding copy protection technology. For example, he asks: "have any discs entered the U.S. market that may not be copied on a device or on media for which a royalty has been paid under the AHRA?"
Lawrence Livermore Hacker Pleads Guilty
1/8. Benjamin Breuninger plead guilty in U.S. District Court (NDCal) to one count of unauthorized access of a protected computer and recklessly causing damage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(B).
The U.S. Attorneys Office stated in release that "Breuninger admitted that, on November 3, 1999, without authorization, he intentionally gained access to the Lawrence Livermore National Lab's unclassified computer network. Once he obtained access to the computer system, he placed software programs on the system that gave him further control of the system as well as continued access. Over the next 10 days, he re-entered the system several times and, among other things, downloaded budget material from the laboratory's computer network." Sentencing is scheduled for April 12, 2002 before Judge Lowell Jensen.
More News
1/8. The FCC extended the deadline to file reply comments in its proceeding regarding cross ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers. The new deadline is February 15, 2002. This is MM Docket No. 01-235. See, notice in Federal Register, January 8, 2002, Vol. 67, No. 5, at Pages 828 - 829.
1/8. The Supreme Court heard oral argument in Festo Corporation v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Koygo Kabushiki, No. 00-1543, a case regarding the doctrine of equivalents in patent law.
1/8. President Bush signed HR 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, a bill pertaining to education. See, Bush speech.
1/8 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cautioned that "filings and other documents mailed to the Commission are being received on a delayed basis." However, "Filings made electronically on the Commission’s EDGAR system have not been affected." See, SEC notice.
People and Appointments
1/8. Republican John Sullivan won a special Congressional election in Oklahoma to replace Rep. Steve Largent (R-OK), who will step down on February 15 to run for Governor of Oklahoma. Rep. Largent is a member of the House Commerce Committee and its Telecom and Internet Subcommittee. He has been one of the leaders of the opposition to HR 1542, the Tauzin Dingell bill, on the Committee. See, roll call votes of April 26, 2001, TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 175 (April 27, 2001), and roll call votes of May 9, 2001.
1/8. Casey Carter was named Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC's) Office of Legislative Affairs. She is currently the acting Director. She previously worked in legislative affairs at the Comptroller of the Currency and the Resolution Trust Corporation. See, SEC release.
1/8. Christi Harlan was named Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC's) Office of Public Affairs. She was previously the Communications Director for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. See, SEC release.
Wednesday, Jan 9
10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Fantasy Sports v., No. 01-1217, an appeal from the U.S. District Court (EDVa). This is a patent infringement case regarding U.S. Patent 4,918,603, titled "Computerized Statistical Football Game". (D.C. No. 99-CV-2131103; opinion at F. Supp. 2d 886 (E.D.Va. 2000).) Location: Courtroom 402, 717 Madison Place, NW, Washington DC.
10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in ManTech Telecommunications v. US, No. 01-5090. Location: Courtroom 402, 717 Madison Place, NW, Washington DC.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's Telecom Competition Issues Committee will host a brown bag lunch. Michael Katz, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ's Antitrust Division, and former Chief Economist of the FCC, will speak about his observations on the similarities and differences that characterize the two agencies' approach to competition issues. Location: CTIA, 1250 Connecticut Ave., NW, 8th floor conference room, Washington DC.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's Online Communications Committee will host a brown bag lunch. Bruce Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy, will give a talk titled "Broadband, When? A View from the Administration." RSVP to Scott Harris. Location: Lampert & O'Connor, 5th floor, 1750 K Street, NW, Washington DC.
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