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November 21, 2003, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 784.
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House and Senate Pass Nanotech R&D Bill

11/20. The House passed S 189, the "21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act", by a voice vote. The Senate amended and passed the bill on November 18.

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and others, would authorize the appropriation of nearly $4 Billion for nanotechnology research and development programs at a variety of federal agencies.

There was also a House version of the bill, HR 766, sponsored by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), and others. Rep. Boehlert, who is the Chairman of the House Science Committee, stated in a release that "The U.S. is the leader in nanotechnology and must remain so as this new field starts remaking the marketplace. The nanotechnology program will be a model of government, university, industry cooperation, and of coordination, interdisciplinary research and public involvement."

Rep. Mike HondaRep. Honda (at right) stated that "Nanotechnology is one of the areas of innovation most worthy of investment, as it has the potential to create entirely new industries and radically transform the basis of competition in others."

S 189 would authorize funding over four years (FY 2005-2008) for nanotechnology R&D programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The NSF would be receive the largest portion of the funding.

The bill has gone through several revisions since it was introduced in February. See, stories titled "Senate Commerce Committee Approves Nanotech R&D Bill" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 685, June 20, 2003; "Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Nanotechnology" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 654, May 2, 2003; "House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Nanotechnology" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 641, April 10, 2003; and "Representatives Introduce Bill To Authorize Nanotech R&D Funding" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 606, February 18, 2003.

Under Secretary of Commerce Phillip Bond issued a release that states that "The legislation passed by Congress enacts the President's National Nanotechnology Initiative and authorizes $3.7 billion over the next four years for the program. The legislation also requires the creation of research centers, education and training efforts, research into the societal and ethical consequences of nanotechnology, and efforts to transfer technology into the marketplace."

Bond is head of the Department of Commerce's (DOC) Technology Administration, which includes the NIST, which will be a major beneficiary of this bill.

Senators Introduce Bill to Require Expensing of Stock Options Granted to Officers

11/19. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and others introduced S 1890 [7 pages in PDF], the Stock Option Accounting Act, a bill that would require the expensing of stock options for only the top five executives of companies, and exempt small businesses and start ups.

Sen. Mike EnziSen. Enzi (at right) stated in the Senate that, "Simply put, at the end of the day, if FASB is going to earn its independence, it will have to adhere to a process that is objective, fair, open and balanced. So far, FASB seems to be more concerned about getting the job done -- than in getting it right. That is why I am offering legislation that will expense the stock options given to the top five executives of a company, exempt small businesses and start up companies, and set conditions for the expensing of broad-based options for the remaining employees. I treat the three groups differently in this matter because a very real and strong accounting distinction exists between the two types of workers." See, Congressional Record, November 19, 2003, at Page S15188.

Sen. Reid stated that "We have to protect investors and stockholders by ensuring that our Nation's accounting standards are transparent, open and balanced. At the same time, we don't want to choke the entrepreneurial spirit of start-up companies with too much bureaucratic red tape. This legislation achieves just the right balance. It gives regulators a framework to protect the integrity of the accounting process, but it doesn't stifle free enterprise."

The other original cosponsors of the bill are Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. George Allen (R-VA), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR).

The bill was referred to the Senate Banking Committee, of which Sen. Enzi is a member. See also, Sen. Enzi's summary of the bill.

FCC Denies Petition for Stay of Number Portability Order

11/20. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted and released an Order [MS Word] denying the Joint Petition for Stay Pending Judicial Review [17 pages in PDF], filed on November 18, 2003, by the United States Telecom Association (USTA) and CenturyTel, seeking a stay of the FCC's November 10 Memorandum Opinion and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [35 pages in PDF] regarding number portability. The November 10 order requires that wireline carriers must port numbers to wireless carriers in certain circumstances.

The FCC wrote that "the new rules eliminate impediments to competition among wireless carriers, and between wireless and wireline carriers. In this manner, number portability promotes competition between telecommunications service providers, allowing customers the flexibility to respond to price and service changes without changing their telephone numbers."

The just released Order denying the wireline carriers' petition is FCC 03-298 in CC Docket No. 95-116.

The November 10 order is FCC 03-284 in CC Docket No. 95-116. See, story titled "FCC Releases LNP Order That Addresses Wireline to Wireless" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 776, November 11, 2003. See also, story titled "Powell Addresses Number Portability" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 784, November 20, 2003.

Rep. Markey and Rep Pitts Introduce Bill to Limit Wireless Directory Assistance

11/20. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced HR ___ [9 pages in PDF], the "Wireless 411 Privacy Act".

Rep. Ed MarkeyRep. Markey (at right) wrote in a statement [PDF] that "wireless consumers have also been the beneficiaries of a de facto privacy protection policy for their wireless phone numbers. Because wireless subscribers could not be reached through ``information´´ -- such as when callers dial 411 to request a phone number -- it meant that consumers were largely able to control the dissemination of their contact information themselves. For many consumers, this made their wireless phone more valuable because when it rang, it was likely to be a call from someone to whom the subscriber had given their number."

Markey continued that "According to press reports, the wireless industry is poised to change this privacy experience by implementing a national wireless directory assistance database. This will enable callers to 411 to receive a wireless subscriber's phone number, or be connected to a wireless subscriber -- something which today is not possible."

Markey stated that the bill "simply states that current wireless customers must be accorded the right to decide whether they want to be part of the directory assistance service. Wireless companies, in other words, need to ask consumers first and get their prior, affirmative approval before including them." Also, "New wireless customers ... must be given clear and conspicuous notice at the time of subscribing as to what the privacy policy of that carrier will be ..."

See also, Rep. Markey's release [PDF] and Rep. Pitts' release.

The bill would amend the Communications Act, at 47 U.S.C. 332(c), to provide that "A provider of commercial mobile services, or any direct or indirect affiliate or agent of such a provider, may not include the wireless telephone number information of any current subscriber in any wireless directory assistance service database unless (i) the mobile service provider provides a conspicuous, separate notice to the subscriber informing the subscriber of the right not to be listed in any wireless directory assistance service; and (ii) the mobile service provider obtains express prior authorization for listing from such subscriber, separate from any authorization obtained to provide such subscriber with commercial mobile service, or any calling plan or service associated with such commercial mobile service, and such authorization has not been subsequently withdrawn."

The bill also provides that "A provider of commercial mobile services, or any direct or indirect affiliate or agent of such a provider, may include the wireless telephone number information of any new subscriber in a wireless directory assistance service database only if the commercial mobile service provider (i) provides a conspicuous, separate notice to the subscriber, at the time of entering into an agreement to provide commercial mobile service, and at least once a year thereafter, informing the subscriber of the right not to be listed in any wireless directory assistance service database; and (ii) provides the subscriber with convenient mechanisms by which the subscriber may decline or refuse to participate in such database, including mechanisms at the time of entering into an agreement to provide commercial mobile service, in the billing of such service, and when receiving any connected call from a wireless directory assistance service."

It also provides that "A provider of commercial mobile services, or any direct or indirect affiliate or agent of such provider, may connect a calling party from a wireless directory assistance service to a commercial mobile service subscriber only if (i) such subscriber is provided prior notice of the calling party’s identity and is permitted to accept or reject the incoming call on a per-call basis; (ii) such subscriber’s wireless telephone number information is not disclosed to the calling party; and (iii) such subscriber is not an unlisted commercial mobile service subscriber."

Finally, the bill would ban the publication of directories. It would provide that "A provider of commercial mobile services, or any direct or indirect affiliate or agent of such a provider, may not publish, in printed, electronic, or other form, the contents of any wireless directory assistance service database, or any portion or segment thereof."

Steve Largent, P/CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) stated in a release, "Why now? Wireless directory assistance is still on the drawing board ... We are working aggressively to include strong consumer privacy protections as we continue to define a wireless directory assistance offering. The wireless industry has a long history of protecting consumers’ privacy and we look forward to working with all members of Congress as we move forward."

Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Friday, November 21

The House will meet at 9:00 AM for legislative business.

8:00 AM - 3:00 PM. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST), Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award will hold the fourth day of a four day closed meeting. See, notice in the Federal Register, October 27, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 207, at Pages 61189 - 61190. Location: NIST, Building 222, Red Training Room, Gaithersburg, MD.

1:00 PM. The Peter Neumann of the National Committee on Voter Integrity (NCVI) will hold a press conference by conference call regarding the reliability and integrity of electronic voting systems. To participate, call 1 512 225-3050 and enter passcode 65889#. For more information, contact Emily Cadei at 202 483-1140 X 119 or

TIME? The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a business meeting to consider the nomination of James Loy to be Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. Location: Room S-214, Capitol Building.

2:00 PM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) International Bureau (IB) will host a public meeting "to officially kick off the design phase for planned enhancements to its electronic filing system, IBFS". Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room, Room CYB418/511.

Deadline to submit comments to the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) regarding its foreign policy-based export controls. This category includes high performance computers, encryption items, as well as chemical and biological agents, missiles, and "implements of torture". See, notice in the Federal Register, October 21, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 203, at Pages 60050-60052.

The Department of State's (DOS) United States International Telecommunication Advisory Committee, Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITAC-T), will meet electronically from November 21 through November 26, 2003 to comment on and approve normal contributions to the ITU-T Study Group 13 meeting, which will be held February 3-13, 2004. See, notice in the Federal Register, October 31, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 211, at Pages 62158.

Monday, November 24

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) number portability rules are scheduled to go into effect.

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates v. FCC, No. 02-1261. Judges Ginsburg, Edwards and Rogers will preside. Location: 333 Constitution Ave. NW.

10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee may hold an executive business meeting. Press contact: Margarita Tapia (Hatch) at 202 224-5225 or David Carle (Leahy) at 202 224-4242. Location: Room 226, Dirsksen Building.

2:00 -3:30 PM. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the Council for Excellence in Government (CEG) and the American Council for Technology (ACT) will host a public meeting regarding agency drafting of reports on privacy activities under the E-Government Act. The participants will be Eva Kleederman (Office of Management and Budget), Dan Costello (OMB), Frank Reeder (Center for Excellence), Ari Schwartz (CDT), Charlene Thomas (IRS). RSVP to Danielle Wiblemo at Location: Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004, Pierce Room.

Deadline to submit initial comments to the Copyright Office (CO) in response to its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding notice and recordkeeping for use of sound recordings under statutory license. The CO published a notice in the Federal Register stating that it "is requesting public comment on the adoption of regulations for records of use of sound recordings performed pursuant to the statutory license for public performances of sound recordings by means of digital audio transmissions between October 28, 1998, and the effective date of soon-to-be-announced interim regulations." See, Federal Register: October 8, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 195, at Page 58054.

Deadline to submit comments to the Department of Commerce's (DOC) Bureau of Industry and Standards (BIS), which is also known as the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) regarding its proposal to amend its rules to "expand the availability of license exceptions for exports and reexports of computer technology and software, and microprocessor technology on the Commerce Control List (CCL) of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) under Export Classification Control Numbers (ECCNs) 3E002, 4D001 and 4E001. These ECCNs control technology and software that can be used for the development, production, or use of computers, and development and production of microprocessors." Comments are due by November 24, 2003. See, notice in the Federal Register, October 24, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 206, at Pages 60891-60895.

Deadline to submit comments to the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regarding the adequacy of its preparation process for the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC). The next WRC is in 2007. See, notice in the Federal Register, October 23, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 205, at Pages 60646-60648.

Tuesday, November 25

Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding digital low power television and television translator stations. This is FCC 03-198, in MB Docket No. 03-185. See, notice in the Federal Register, September 26, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 187, at Pages 55566 - 55573.

Wednesday, November 26

Deadline to submit nominations to the Department of Commerce's (DOC) Technology Administration (TA) of individuals for appointment to the National Medal of Technology Nomination Evaluation Committee (NMTNEC). The TA states that "Typically, Committee members are present or former Chief Executive Officers, former winners of the National Medal of Technology; presidents or distinguished faculty of universities; or senior executives of non-profit organizations." See, notice in the Federal Register, October 27, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 207, at Page 61190.

Deadline for the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Media Security and Reliability Council (MRSC) to complete voting on recommendations regarding prevention and restoration measures to ensure the continued operation and security of media facilities in the face of a national emergency. These recommendations were presented at the biannual meeting of the MRSC on November 6, 2003. See, FCC release [PDF].

Thursday, November 27

Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, November 28

Deadline to submit comments to the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council (NIPLECC) regarding the agenda and mission of the NIPLECC. See, notice in the Federal Register, October 28, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 208, at Pages 61398-61399.

DOJ/FTC to Release Herfindahl-Hirshman Index Data

11/18. Hewitt Pate, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division, gave a speech in Washington DC on November 18. He said that in "early December" the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will release data relating to the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index.

The Herfindahl-Hirschman Index is a quantitative measure of market concentration. The DOJ states that "It is calculated by squaring the market share of each firm competing in the market and then summing the resulting numbers."

Hewitt PatePate stated that the DOJ and FTC "jointly are conducting a review of their recent past horizontal merger enforcement efforts. The Agencies will soon release data generated through a review of those efforts taken during the past five years. The data to be released will focus on the level of the post-merger Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) of market concentration and the change in the HHI level for mergers to which the Department or the Commission indicated opposition in a public way. For the Department, this means either that a complaint was filed or that a press release was issued indicating that the deal was abandoned or restructured as a result of our opposition."

Pate also stated that "Both Agencies will also be examining whether, and if so what, other data might usefully be disseminated."

He added that "we at the Antitrust Division have concluded that it would be helpful in a variety of ways to maintain a more comprehensive data base on our investigations. Thus, I have asked Antitrust Division staff to begin the process of determining the types of information we would ideally like to have on all horizontal merger matters we evaluate. Then we will work to collect such information and preserve it so future retrospectives of merger enforcement can be more robust."

See also, DOJ release.

More News

11/20. The Department of Justice (DOJ) hosted a publicity event regarding the investigation and prosecution of computer related crimes, including internet fraud, investment fraud, identity theft, and software piracy, by the DOJ and other government entities. See, DOJ release and speech by Attorney General John Ashcroft. See also, list of cases brought in the months of October and November.

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