Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
January 25, 2002, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 354.
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Tech CEOs Advocate Federal Broadband Policy
1/24. CEOs of major technology companies traveled to Washington DC to ask policy makers to adopt a national broadband policy. The group, which is organized as the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP), includes Michael Dell (Dell), Craig Barrett (Intel), Christopher Galvin (Motorola), Lou Gerstner (IBM), and Lars Nyberg (NCR).
The CSPP also held a press conference in Washington DC to release a report titled Building the Foundation of the Networked World [28 pages in PDF]. This report states that "The President and the Administration should articulate by the end of 2002 a clear, 10-year vision for this nation's wired/wireless infrastructure and adopt them as part of a national strategy for 21st century economic development." It also states what the elements of the national policy should be.
More Bandwidth. The report recommends that the national policy should provide that "By year-end 2003, 80 percent of U.S. homes should be able to get at least 1.5 Mbps capacity and 50 percent of U.S. homes should be able to get 6 Mbps from at least two providers." It also states that "by the end of the decade 100 million homes and small businesses should be able to get up to 100 Mbps affordable broadband capacity."
More Spectrum. The report states that the U.S. government should "make available in the marketplace 120 MHz of spectrum by 2004, with another 80 MHz made available by 2010, to be harmonized with global spectrum use to the maximum extent possible. In addition, the U.S. should implement a process to make additional licensed and unlicensed spectrum available beyond 2010 in a way that is consistent with an effective, long term vision for its management.
Fewer Regulatory Barriers. The report states that "Government at all levels should take steps to eliminate barriers to widespread, advanced, wired and wireless broadband deployment."
Tax Incentives. The report states that "Congress should adopt incentives such as a rural broadband tax credit to increase investment in the infrastructure at all levels." See, for example, S 88, the Broadband Internet Access Act of 2001.
More Research. The report also calls for more federal research and development spending.
The report takes no position on many policy issues affecting broadband deployment and adoption, such as the Tauzin Dingell bill, and various proposals to modify copyright laws affecting digital content.  See also, CSPP release.
SEC Chairman Pitt Addresses Post Enron Disclosure System Reforms
1/23. Harvey Pitt, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), gave a speech to the 29th Annual Securities Regulation Institute in Denver, Colorado, regarding post Enron reform. He addressed "how we must improve our existing disclosure and financial reporting system".
He stated that "the public can have full confidence that our Enforcement Division will learn who bears responsibility for this disaster and those who violated the laws we administer will be appropriately sanctioned."
He also stated that "There are many systemic problems that need repair in the wake of Enron. In my view, these include ... an outdated disclosure model that does not provide timely disclosure when it is most needed, and focuses on historical information while neglecting current and trend information". He reviewed a number of possible changes to the disclosure system, including "Making use of technology to simplify disclosure documents".
Deputy USTR Addresses Telecom and IT Competition in Japan
1/24. Jon Huntsman, Deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR), gave a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo. He spoke about "the business of putting sacred cows to pasture through structural and regulatory reform".
He offered some telecom reform proposals: "Although Japan has taken some important steps forward in this sector, we still think more needs to be done to establish a genuinely pro-competitive regime. One important proposal is to eliminate and reduce the maze of filing and reporting requirements on carriers that compete with NTT. Streamlining these requirements would enable competitive carriers to respond to market forces more quickly and lower their cost of doing business in Japan. We are also looking forward to Japan's vigorous enforcement of its dominant carrier regulation, which is intended to prevent anti-competitive abuses by NTT. And we are continuing to work with Japan to reduce interconnection rates to competitive levels."
Huntsman praised the beneficial effects of telecom deregulation in the U.S. "Take, for example, what happened in the wake of telecom deregulation in the United States. Information technology (IT) grew from 4 to 8 percent of the economy between 1977 and 1998. Long distance telephone traffic more than doubled between 1988 and 1998. Competitive local carriers invested over $50 billion in the U.S. between 1996 and 2001 and their revenues increased from $3 billion to about $10 billion. Who could have imagined you could get so much vitality and growth out of a previously monopolized sector?"
He also stated that "We are therefore working with Japan to promote the use of e-commerce in the private sector, expand and accelerate e-government initiatives that would make business transactions with the Japanese Government more efficient and less costly, and protect intellectual property rights in the digital age. This would include the implementation of a well-balanced ISP (Internet Service Provider) liability law, which would in turn spur the development of innovative products for Japan's software industries."
He continued that "We welcome Japan's ambitious goal of constructing one of the world's most advanced telecommunications network infrastructures by 2005, particularly given the multiplier effect growth in this sector can have on stimulating investment, efficiency, and productivity throughout the economy."
Greenspan Testifies About the Economy and Technology
1/24. Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, testified before the Senate Budget Committee. See, prepared testimony [PDF].
He said that "The retrenchment in capital spending over the past year was central to the sharp slowing we experienced in overall activity. The steep rise in high tech spending that occurred in the early post Y2K months was clearly not sustainable. The demand for many of the newer technologies was growing rapidly, but capacity was expanding even faster, exerting severe pressure on prices and profits. New orders for equipment and software hesitated in the middle of 2000 and then fell sharply as firms re-evaluated their capital investment programs."
However, he continued that "new technologies will present ample opportunities to earn enhanced rates of return. Indeed, reports from businesses around the country suggest that the exploitation of available networking and other information technologies was only partially completed when the cyclical retrenchment of the past year began. Many business managers are still of the view, according to a recent survey of purchasing managers, that less than half of currently available new, and presumably profitable, supply chain technologies have been put into use. If the recent more favorable economic developments continue and gather momentum, uncertainties will diminish, risk premiums will fall, and the pace of capital investment embodying these technologies will increase. As we have witnessed so clearly in recent years, the resulting enhanced growth of productivity will lift our standard of living."
Cato Panel Debates Facial Recognition Technologies
1/24. The Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion titled "Eye in the Sky -- and Everywhere Else: Do Biometric Technologies Violate Our Rights?" The speakers included John Woodward, a Senior Policy Analyst for the Rand Corporation, and Marc Rotenberg, the Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
The debate focused on the use of facial recognition technologies. Woodward stated that "there is no right to privacy in the face you show in public". He pointed out that neither the Supreme Court of the U.S., nor of any state, has recognized such a privacy right. He added that "the key to facial recognition is what goes in the database. ... I think that is where you have to focus your regulatory concerns."
Rotenberg conceded that the courts have not found a privacy right in facial features shown in public. However, he continued that key issue is whether the government can compel the revealing of one's identity when in public. He also stated that "the most obvious database of facial images ... are the two hundred million digitized photographs that sit in department of motor vehicle agencies." He asked rhetorically whether one has "any reason to believe that those images won't be incorporated into that database."
Rotenberg also suggested that the U.S. Congress has a clear obligation to legislate a framework for the regulation of the use of facial recognition technology, much as it has long regulated telephone wiretaps.
Woodward stated that September 11 was a watershed day for facial recognition technology. He said that pre 9-11, the prevailing view was "why do we really need this technology?", and post 9-11, the prevailing view is "why aren't we using this technology?"
Judicial Nominee Discusses Privacy and Electronic Court Records
1/24. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on several non-controversial judicial nominations, including that of Michael Melloy to be a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Melloy was appointed as a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in 1986. He was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in 1992. He is also Chairman of the Bankruptcy Administration Committee of the Judicial Conference. In September 2001, the Judicial Conference's Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, with input from the Bankruptcy Administration Committee, released its report [PDF] titled "Report on Privacy and Public Access to Electronic Case Files".
This report states that "documents in bankruptcy case files should be made generally available electronically to the same extent that they are available at the courthouse", with the exception that certain personally identifying information, such as social security numbers, dates of birth, financial account numbers, and names of minor children, be redacted.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who presided at the hearing, asked Melloy about privacy. He stated that court documents can contain "pretty sensitive information". He added that "we have been concerned about identity theft that might result from posting that type of information on the Internet. And, we have take some measures to adjust those concerns."
Melloy's nomination is supported by both Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). He is likely to be confirmed with bipartisan support.
Bush Seeks More Funding for Homeland Defense and Communications Compatibility
1/24. President Bush gave a speech to a gathering of mayors and county officials at the White House. He stated that his FY 2003 budget "proposes $3.5 billion in federal aid to state and local first responders. That is a thousand percent increase over what our government has spent. It's necessary money. It's part of the $38 billion budget I'm going to be asking for for homeland security."
He added that "Part of our task is to recognize there's 36,000 local jurisdictions all around the country. ... How do we make sure that the communications equipment and the rescue equipment is compatible not only within a state but nationwide?"
Friday, Jan 25
The House will meet at 10:00 AM in pro forma session only.
9:30 AM - 1:00 PM. The National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) will host an event titled "Measuring the Impact: A National Summit on Education Technology". This is an invitation only event. For more information, contact Brenda Kempster at 760-674-8919 or Brenda Location: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street, NW.
3:00 PM. Procomp will hold a press conference. For more information, contact Paul Skowronek at 973-2913. Location: Murrow Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
Monday, Jan 28
Day one of the COMNET Conference & Expo. Location: Convention Center.
8:30 - 10:00 AM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a press breakfast. AEI scholars will provide a retrospective on the first six years under the Telecom Act of 1996. RSVP to Veronique Rodman, Director of Public Affairs, at 202 862-4871 or Location: AEI, 1150 17th Street, NW, 11th Floor, Conference Room.
12:00 NOON. Deadline to submit comments to the Office of the USTR regarding the operation and effectiveness of the WTO Basic Telecommunications Agreement, the telecommunications provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and other telecommunications trade agreements. This request for comments is pursuant to an annual review of telecom agreements required by Section 1377. See, notice in the Federal Register.
Tuesday, Jan 29
President Bush will deliver the State of the Union Address to a joint session of the Congress.
Day two of the COMNET Conference & Expo. Location: Convention Center.
Wednesday, Jan 30
Day three of the COMNET Conference & Expo. Location: Convention Center.
8:45 AM - 3:45 PM. The NIST Advanced Technology Program Advisory Committee will hold a partially closed meeting. See, notice in Federal Register. Location: NIST, Administration Building, Employees' Lounge, Gaithersburg, MD.
9:00 AM. The Global Business Dialogue will host a press conference on the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) tax regime. For more information, contact Judge Morris at 202 463-5075. Location: First Amendment Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
POSTPONED TO FEB 6. 10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The FCC's Advisory Committee for the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-03) will meet.  Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TWC305 (Commission Meeting Room), Washington DC. See, FCC notice of postponement [PDF].
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Cable Practice Committee will host a luncheon. The speaker will be Stacy Robinson, Mass Media Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. The price to attend is $15. RSVP to Wendy Parish at Location: National Cable & Internet Association, 1724 Massachusetts Ave., NW.
Thursday, Jan 31
12:30 PM. John Browne, the Director of the Los Alamos National Laboratories, will speak at a luncheon. Location, Ballroom, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
12:30 - 2:00 PM. The FCBA's International Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch with FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. Location: FCC, 445 12th St, SW, 8th Floor, Conference Room 1.
7:00 - 8:00 PM. There will be a panel discussion titled "The State of Online Journalism" featuring Rich Jaroslovsky (Wall Street Journal) and Doug Feaver (Washington Post). Location: National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
More News
1/24. CTIA Chairman Thomas Wheeler wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell opposing FCC mandated wireless number portability. He stated that "The difficulty with the wireless number portability regulation (which, as you know, was specifically not required by Congress but imposed by the FCC) is how it will force carriers to redirect spending that otherwise would go to expanding consumer service. There is no cost-benefit analysis to support a Commission action that forces carriers to redirect scarce resources from system build outs and expanded coverage to number portability that is neither mandated by Congress, nor warranted by a lack of wireless competition." (This is WT Docket No. 01-184.)
1/24. The SEC announced that iCapital Markets LLC, formerly Datek Securities Corp., consented to pay a $6.3 Million penalty in connection with SEC allegations of securities fraud and widespread violations of the SEC's broker dealer books and records and reporting provisions. See also, SEC release and Datek web site.
1/24. Biogen announced that "it has reached a settlement in its long standing litigation with Berlex Laboratories over a claim that the manufacture of AVONEX® (Interferon beta-1a) infringes Berlex’s “McCormick” patents." See, Biogen release.
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