|FCC Approves Long Distance Applications for
California, Florida and Tennessee
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
approved SBC's Section 271 application
to provide in region interLATA service in the state of California. See,
release [MS Word]. This is WC Docket No. 02-306. The FCC also approved
Section 271 application for the states of Florida and Tennessee. See,
release [MS Word]. This is WC Docket No. 02-307.
California. The California decision was controversial, because the
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
had opposed approval.
FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin dissented.
He wrote that "the
record does not demonstrate that SBC has satisfied all of the requirements of
section 271 in California." He cited the opposition of the CPUC. "In
this application, the CPUC, the regulatory entity most knowledgeable about the
local conditions of competition in California, determined that SBC’s application
failed checklist items 11 and 14."
Martin noted that "The CPUC determined that Pacific Bell failed
checklist item 14 for two reasons:
(1) failure to comply with its resale
obligation with respect to advanced services pursuant to § 251(c)(4)(A), and
(2) including restrictive conditions in certain interconnection agreements in
contravention of §251(c)(4)(B)."
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps
wrote in a separate statement that, while he supported the FCC's
decision, he considered the CPUC's opposition "troubling" -- "enough to give me
Florida and Tennessee. The
FCC's decision on the applications for Florida and Tennessee was less
controversial. The FCC voted 4-0.
BellSouth has now received approval
to provide long distance service in every state in its original territory. Duane
Ackerman, Ch/CEO of BellSouth, stated in a release that "This is a
watershed day for BellSouth and our customers as it represents almost seven
years of hard work by our dedicated staff in proving that our markets are open
to competition. We are pleased that the Federal Communications Commission has
again affirmed this ... We will launch our long-distance offerings in Florida
and Tennessee on Monday, December 30, with calling plans and other long-distance
services that residence and business customers in our other states have found to
meet their long-distance calling needs at rates that are competitive with other
providers in the marketplace."
|DOJ OIG Report Criticizes
FBI Management of
|12/19. The Department of Justice's (DOJ)
Office of the Inspector General released
a report [178 pages
in PDF] titled "Federal Bureau of Investigation's Management of Information
Technology Investments". The report concludes that the "FBI has not effectively managed
its IT investments because it has not fully implemented the management processes
associated with successful IT investments." The report adds that "the FBI
continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IT projects without
adequate assurance that these projects will meet their intended goals."
(R-IA) (at right), a senior member of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the DOJ, stated in a release that "It
looks like the FBI is playing with Lincoln Logs this
Christmas season while everybody else is playing with X-Box and Play
Station. The FBI's computers are a money pit, but they're so obsolete that we
have little choice about spending more money to fix them so the FBI can do its
job of protecting the American people. I'm not surprised about this latest
example of the lack of institutional accountability at the FBI."
The report is a lengthy discussion of how the FBI is
mismanaging its information technology. The report does not go into detail on what
the FBI's information technology is. However, there is some discussion in vague terms,
at pages 86-94, of its upgrade plans.
Nor does the report address how the FBI's IT deficiencies have impacted its
ability to perform its law enforcement responsibilities.
The report notes that as of September 2000, "more than 13,000 of the desktop
computers utilized by the FBI were 4 to 8 years old and could not run modern
software", that "most Resident Agency offices were connected to the network at
speeds equivalent to a 56k modem", and that "Special Agents were unable to
reliably e-mail each other on case specific information and often resorted to
faxes". The report is not specific regarding how much the FBI has improved
its situation in the last two years.
The report also notes that "As of June 2002, the FBI had over
11,000 Special Agents and over 16,000 other employees ..." This is approximately
27,000 total employees. The report also notes that the FBI's budget authority
for FY 2002 is about $4.371 Billion, and that $714 Million of this is allocated for
information technology projects.
$714 Million divided by 27,000 employees comes to $26,444.44 per
employee per year.
While this report focuses on failed management processes, the OIG has
previously reported on other IT problems at the FBI. For example, in August
2002, the DOJ OIG released a series of reports on the control of
laptop computers and weapons at five DOJ components. It reported that there were a total of 400
missing laptops, and 775 missing weapons. For the FBI, it reported that there
were 317 missing
laptops and 212 missing weapons. Moreover, the OIG found that the FBI does not
know if sensitive data has been lost. See,
Executive Summary [43 pages in PDF] and report titled
The Federal Bureau Of
Investigation's Control Over Weapons And Laptop Computers (Report No.
02-27). See also,
titled "FBI Loses 317 Laptops", August 5, 2002.
|Defense Department Releases Report on
|12/13. Defense Department's (DOD) ISAT Study Group on Security with Privacy
[23 page PDF scan] titled "Security with Privacy". It states that
"Privacy of personal data is an absolutely essential
element of any information system that carriers information about American
citizens. But the challenge of privacy sharply increases as the use of
information aggregation systems continue to grow -- both in commercial and
governmental spheres. This study examines specific technological agendas for
The report addresses the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency's (DARPA)
Information Awareness Office. It also urges the DARPA to pursue research
in this area.
However, the report adds that "Some media sources have indirectly
referred to this study as a review of
DARPA Total Information Awareness program. These reports are not accurate. The
ISAT study group did not attempt to review TIA or any other DARPA program. While
these recommendations may help inform TIA (and other programs), the
recommendations both go beyond the scope of TIA (for example, in considering
commercial aggregation of data) and also do not address significant portions of
TIA (for example, we do not consider data mining.)"
The Electronic Privacy Information Center
(EPIC) published this report in its web site a. It was provided to EPIC by the
DOD in connection with a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) request for records, and associated lawsuit for
enforcement of the FOIA. See,
|DC Court Rules in USTR FOIA Case
|12/19. The U.S.
District Court (DC) issued its
opinion [29 pages in PDF]
for International Environmental Law v. USTR, a Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) case. The requestors sought records pertaining to the just completed
U.S. Chile Free Trade Agreement. The opinion contains a detailed analysis of two
of the FOIA exemptions: inter-agency documents, and national defense documents.
5 U.S.C. § 522(b)
provides, in relevant part, that "This section does not apply to matters that
are -- (1)(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order
to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and
(B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order; ...
(5) inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be
available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency".
The District Court ruled for the requesters on the inter-agency documents
issue, but for the Office of the U.S. Trade
Representative (USTR) on the national defense and foreign policy documents
issue. The Court wrote that "Because the Court concludes that documents exchanged with the
government of Chile are not "inter-agency" documents under Exemption 5 of the
Freedom of Information Act, the Court directs USTR to release these documents to
plaintiffs. It also directs USTR to identify and release any internal USTR
documents that contain factual information relating to meetings or
communications with Chilean officials. The Court concludes that documents
withheld by USTR pursuant to Exemption 1 were properly withheld and need not be
released. Finally, the Court concludes that defendants have not waived their
right to assert privileges by publicly disclosing information similar to that
contained in withheld documents."
|8th Circuit Rules in Copyright Case
|12/19. The U.S.
Court of Appeals (8thCir) issued its unpublished
pages in PDF] in Genick
Bar-Meir v. North American
Die Casting Association, a copyright infringement case.
Bar-Meir wrote a book titled "Fundamentals of Die Casting
Design". Defendant North American Die Casting Association teaches courses
on die casting. Bar-Meir alleges that the NADCA's course materials infringed his
Bar-Meir filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DMinn)
against the NADCA and others alleging copyright infringement. The District Court
granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. Bar-Meir appealed.
The Appeals Court affirmed in a very short opinion. It wrote
that "the undisputed evidence shows defendants never possessed the materials
Bar-Meir claims were infringing, and thus defendants could not be responsible
for displaying or distributing the materials." Moreover, the Court wrote, "the
course syllabus he alleges was derived from his book was not substantially
similar, and thus was not infringing."
|Cable and Consumer Electronics Companies
Announce DTV Agreement
|12/19. Fourteen consumer electronics companies and seven
cable operators announced
that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding a
national plug and play standard between digital television (DTV) products and
digital cable systems. Their proposal still requires implementation by the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
[78 pages in PDF] consisting of the MOU, proposed rules to be promulgated by the
FCC, and a letter to FCC Chairman
Powell and others.
The parties to the MOU recommend a "set of technical standards for cable systems and
``cable ready´´ DTV products (and testing procedures to assure compatibility); a
proposed regulatory framework for support of digital TV receivers, digital
recorders with secure interfaces and other devices on cable systems; a draft
security technology license to ensure that high-value content can be transferred
securely in the home network by consumers; and ``encoding rules´´ to resolve
pending copyright based concerns about home recording and viewing." See,
release and substantially similar
stated that "``Plug and play´´ cable compatibility is a key
piece of the digital television puzzle. In a ``plug and play´´ world, consumers
will be able to plug their cable directly into their digital TV set without the
need of a set-top box. ``Plug and play´´ will be good for the future of these
industries, good for the digital transition, and most importantly, good for
Powell also said that "I commend the cable and consumer electronics
industries for their extraordinary efforts in reaching this agreement. This
shows what progress can be made when both sides are committed to finding
solutions rather than jockeying for regulatory advantage."
Powell concluded that "The agreement contains certain requests for FCC
action. We will act expeditiously on those requests after other interested
parties have had the opportunity to comment."
Robert Sachs of the National
Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) stated that "This agreement
will advance the digital TV transition by making it easier for cable consumers
to access digital TV services, including HDTV. Additionally, it will provide
cable companies with an important retail presence to compete with direct
Gary Shapiro of the Consumer
Electronics Association (CEA) stated that "This recommendation to the FCC is
good news for consumers. It represents a true leadership effort on the part of
both the cable and consumer electronics industries to advance the digital TV
transition ... A national portable, plug-and-play digital cable standard for
high-definition TV receivers, recorders and other products is a laudable
The MOU applies to unidirectional products. However, the parties also agreed
to begin working on standards for future interactive digital cable TV products.
|Greenspan Addresses Monetary Policy and
|12/19. Federal Reserve Board
Chairman Alan Greenspan gave a
speech to the Economic Club of New York in New York City titled "Issues for
Monetary Policy". He reviewed the successes of monetary policy in the last
several decades in controlling inflation and promoting economic growth.
He also addressed the increasing resiliency of the U.S. economy. He argued
that this is the result of liberalization of global trade, deregulation of
communications, financial services, and other sectors, and increased use of
information technology. He said that "the dramatic gains in information
technology have markedly improved the ability of businesses to address festering
economic imbalances before they inflict significant damage. This improved
ability has been further facilitated by the increasing willingness of our
workers to embrace innovation more generally."
Greenspan also said that "There is evidence that some corporate managers are
beginning to tentatively venture out on the risk scale. New orders for capital
goods equipment and software, after falling sharply over the preceding two
years, have stabilized and in some cases turned up in nominal terms this year --
an improvement, to be sure, but not necessarily the beginnings of a vigorous
|Friday, December 20
|Deadline to submit comments to the Office of the
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) regarding
its proposed free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Botswana, Lesotho,
Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. The proposed negotiations will address,
among other things, electronic commerce, intellectual property rights (IPR),
and access to telecommunications markets. See,
in Federal Register, November 15, 2002, Vol. 67, No. 221, at Pages 69295 -
69297. See also,
[PDF] from USTR Robert Zoellick to Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV).
|Tuesday, December 24
|Wednesday, December 25
|People and Appointments
|12/18. Ellen Weintraub was elected Chair of the
Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for the
year 2003. Bradley Smith was elected Vice Chair for 2003. Weintraub was
just appointed to the FEC earlier this month. She is a Democrat. See,
12/18. President Bush named David Hobbs
Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. He will replace Nicholas Calio.
President Bush also named Ziad Ojakli Deputy Assistant to the President
and Principal Deputy for Legislative Affairs. Hobbs, who currently handles House
legislation, is a former Chief of Staff to the outgoing House Majority Leader,
Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX). Ojakli currently handles Senate matters. He previously
worked for former Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-GA), Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), and
former Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). See,
Bush announced his intent to nominate Janet Hale to be Under Secretary for
Management at the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Clark Ervin
to be Inspector General of the DHS. See,
|12/18. The Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) extended until July 1, 2003 the implementation of several accounting and
reporting requirement changes. The FCC released its Report and Order on
February 6, 2002, as part of its biennial review of accounting
requirements and Automated Reporting
Management Information System (ARMIS) reporting requirements, adopting rule
changes to take effect of January 1, 2003. The FCC now extends that
implementation date, to allow the recently established Federal State Joint
Conference on Accounting Issues to review changes. For more information, contact
Jane Jackson, Associate Chief of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau at 202
notice in the Federal Register: December 18, 2002, Vol. 67, No. 243, at
Pages 77432 - 77433.
12/17. The Antitrust Division of the
Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted its
amicus curiae brief
to the U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir)
in Covad v. Bell Atlantic, No. 02-7057. This case pertains to the
applicability of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Section 2 of the Sherman
Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2,
to allegations that an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) has monopolized
or attempted to monopolize a market for local telecommunications services. The
DOJ supports neither party.
12/17. The U.S.
Court of Appeals (1stCir) issued its
opinion in Second
Generation v. Town of Pelham, a cell tower siting case.
12/18. Randyl Walter plead guilty in
U.S. District Court (CDCal) to one felony count of manufacturing and
distributing hardware devices designed to circumvent the encryption technologies
of DirecTV and DISH Network. The USAO stated in a
release that "The
6,000 devices manufactured and sold by Walter caused nearly $15 million in
losses to one satellite broadcast company."
12/19. The General Accounting Office (GAO)
released a report [21 pages
in PDF] titled "Information Technology Services: Agencies Complying with
Revision to Federal Acquisition Regulation". The report notes that the Congress
recently passed legislation regarding federal agency IT services
contracts because it was "concerned that minimum experience or education
requirements included in agency solicitations for IT services were
contributing to worker shortages by requiring contractors to use highly trained
and educated workers to perform some services that could be done by less
educated or experienced workers." The statute required that the Federal
Acquisition Regulation (FAR) be amended to prohibit minimum personnel experience
or education requirements in IT services solicitations that result in
performance based contracts unless the contracting officer
determines that the needs of the agency cannot be met without such requirements.
Such a rule was promulgated. And now, the GAO report finds that agencies are
complying with the new FAR.
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