Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
November 29, 2004, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 1,026.
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FTC Finds No COPPA Violation by Amazon

11/24. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wrote a letter [3 page PDF scan] to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and others stating that Amazon has not violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), as previously alleged by the EPIC and others.

The FTC wrote that "After careful review of the relevant websites and other information, it appears to the Commission staff that the ``Toy Store´´ portion of the Amazon website is not directed to children and that Amazon is not collecting information from visitors with actual knowledge that they are children under 13. Accordingly, the FTC staff has determined not to recommend that the Commission take formal action in response to your complaint."

The COPPA, which is codified at 15 U.S.C. § 6501 through § 6506, and the FTC's rules thereunder, bar the operators of web sites that are targeted at children from collecting personally identifiable information from children under 13 without parental consent.

On April 22, 2003, the EPIC, and other groups, submitted a complaint to the FTC. See, story titled "EPIC Asserts Amazon Product Reviews Violate COPPA" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 646, April 22, 2003.

This complaint asserted that Amazon's "Toy Store" is targeted at children. The information collected by Amazon that the complaint alleged violates the statute is online product reviews that are authored by children.

Amazon does not have a web form with fields for personal information. Rather, it allows users to write product reviews. The FTC also noted that Amazon requests that product reviewers not include their e-mail addresses or names. Some children post product reviews, and contrary to Amazon's instructions, include personal information. Amazon personnel remove these.

The FTC wrote that while the Amazon web site includes a "Toy Store", it is directed at adults who buy toys for children. The FTC reached this conclusion after reviewing the language, vocabulary, and activities in the web section.

The FTC letter was signed by Mary Engle, Associate Director.

FRB Governor Reviews Role of IT in Economy

11/15. Federal Reserve Board Governor Mark Olson gave a speech in Toronto, Canada titled "Recent Economic Experience and Outlook" in which he discussed the role of information technology in economic activity.

Mark OlsonOlson (at right) said that "the latter half of the 1990s was a time of remarkable economic performance, fueled importantly by an investment boom that contributed to rapid growth in labor productivity. However, by late 2000, that boom had come to an end, and businesses abruptly curtailed capital spending -- particularly for high-tech equipment. The cutback in spending occurred as expectations about the potential profitability of new investment opportunities turned down, and many companies, such as those in the telecommunications sector, found that they had invested too much in equipment and office space during the boom. With the sudden drop-off in business demand, inventories began to pile up, and producers cut production of all types of goods in early 2001."

Then, economic activity began to recover in 2002, in part because of "innovations in the use of existing technologies, perhaps the result of firms applying more effectively the new technologies they had acquired at a rapid pace in the late 1990s."

He also noted that "Business demand for high-tech equipment seems to have softened a little in recent months, judging both from the data on new orders and from industry commentary." He projected that "economic fundamentals are consistent with the U.S. economy posting solid growth over the next year."

People and Appointments

11/23. John Swainson was named P/CEO of Computer Associates International. He was also elected to the Board of Directors. He previously worked for IBM. See, CA release.

FCC News

11/24. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extended from December 7, 2004 to December 21, 2004, the deadline to submit reply comments in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Declaratory Ruling (NPRM & DR) [100 pages in PDF] regarding imposing Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) obligations upon broadband internet access services and voice over internet protocol (VOIP). This NPRM is FCC 04-187 in ET Docket No. 04-295. The FCC adopted this NPRM at its August 4, 2004 meeting, and released it on August 9. See, story titled "Summary of the FCC's CALEA NPRM" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 960, August 17, 2004. See, notice in the Federal Register, September 23, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 184, Pages 56976 - 56987, and notice of extension [PDF].

11/24. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell commented on the FCC's completion of Auction 37, the FCC's first open auction of FM radio spectrum. He stated in a release [PDF] that "We are in new territory with this groundbreaking auction, introducing new owners into the radio market and bringing increased diversity through new FM radio stations to cities and towns that have not had their own local stations. By placing small businesses on equal footing with other bidders at the auction stage, our policies ensure that more owners have the opportunity to become pioneers in the dynamic media marketplace."

11/24. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell commented on the one year anniversary of the institution of local wireless number portability. He stated in a release that "One of the primary reasons for the great success of the mobile telephone industry has been competition, and wireless LNP has stimulated competition on wireless carriers providing quality service and greater consumer choice." See also, FCC release [PDF].

11/23. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Order and Consent Decree [12 pages in PDF] that resolves all but one of the FCC's proceedings relating to alleged violation of the indecency statute and rules by Viacom, including its subsidiaries CBS Broadcasting, UPN, and Infinity Broadcasting, and their subsidiaries and affiliated entities. It provides that "Viacom will make a voluntary contribution to the United States Treasury" of $3,500,000.00. It further provides that "Viacom will adopt and implement a company-wide compliance plan for the purpose of preventing the broadcast of material in violation of the Indecency Laws". And, it states that "Viacom will purchase and install, for use in connection with its owned television stations and the CBS and UPN Television Networks, delay systems" and "audio delay equipment" for radio broadcasting. This does not terminate the FCC's proceeding regarding the broadcast on February 1, 2004 of a halftime performance by Janet Jackson and others during a football game. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps wrote in a separate statement [PDF] that "I am concerned about the effect of today's decision on the Commission’s license renewal process. The totality of a broadcasters’ record is pertinent and should be considered when licenses are renewed. Today’s decision takes an entire part of the record off the table." See also, FCC release [PDF], separate statement [PDF] by Commissioner Kevin Martin and separate statement [PDF] by Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

IP News

11/24. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice [PDF] in its web site regarding increases in patent fees, pursuant to the HR 4818, the omnibus appropriation bill, that was approved by the House and Senate on November 20, 2004. President Bush has not yet signed the bill into law. See also, story titled "Congress Approves Omnibus Appropriations Bill" and story titled "Appropriations Bill Provides $1.54 Billion for USPTO, Temporary Fee Increases, But No End to Diversion" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,023, November 22, 2004. The USPTO notice states that "The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, will take effect on the date it is signed by the President. The USPTO anticipates the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, to be enacted sometime in the near future."

11/24. PCTEL, Inc. and 3Com Corporation announced that they have settled their patent litigation pertaining to modem technology. The companies stated that "Pursuant to the settlement, PCTEL and 3Com will each receive a license to the other company's modem technology patents that were asserted in the litigation. Also, as part of the settlement, 3Com has agreed to business arrangements with PCTEL regarding certain wireless software and antennas." See, 3Com release and similar PCTEL release.

Antitrust News

11/21. Hewitt Pate, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division, gave a speech in Sydney, Australia titled "International Anti-Cartel Enforcement". He said that collusive behavior is "the supreme evil of antitrust" and "our core priority". He discussed U.S. anti-cartel enforcement, convergence of amnesty programs, and criminalization of conduct by individuals and corporations.

11/19. Thomas Barnett, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division, gave a speech in Washington DC titled "Antitrust Enforcement Priorities: A Year in Review".

Trade News

11/26. President Bush met with reporters in Crawford, Texas. He was asked to comment about European Union sanctions in connection with the Byrd amendment. He said this: "Well, we've worked hard to comply with the WTO. I think it's important that all nations comply with WTO rulings. I'll work with Congress to get into compliance. As you might remember, we worked on the FISC/ETI bill because of the WTO ruling. We expect the WTO, as well, to treat our trading partners as they treat us. And that's why, for example, I filed complaint on the Airbus situation. We believe that the subsidies for Airbus are unfair for U.S. companies, such as Boeing." See, transcript.

11/15. The European Commission (EC) published a document [47 pages in PDF] titled "Commission Staff Working Document: Community Rules on State Aide for Innovation: vade mecum". This document states that it "seeks to provide a practitioners' guide, which describes the possibilities Member States currently have outside the specific sectors to promote innovation through State aid without distorting competition to an extent contrary to the common interest." It adds the the EC "intends to produce in 2005 a Communication in which the need and potential to expand the possibilities to aid innovation will be explored." See also, document [27 pages in PDF] titled "Vademecum: Community Rules on State Aid", and dated January 9, 2003. Vademecum, or vade mecum, is a rarely used word, from the Latin, meaning something that one carries for frequent use.

Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Monday, November 29

The Senate will not meet until Tuesday, December 7.

The Supreme Court will return from the recess that it began on Monday, November 25, 2004. See, Order List [14 pages in PDF] at page 14.

6:00 - 9:15 PM. The DC Bar Association will host a continuing legal education (CLE) program titled "How to Litigate an Intellectual Property Case Series, Part 3: How to Litigate a Patent Case". The speaker will be Patrick Coyne (Finnegan Henderson). See, notice. Prices vary from $70 to $115. For more information, call 202 626-3488. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, B-1 Level, 1250 H St., NW.

Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The FCC adopted this NPRM at its August 4, 2004 meeting, and released it on August 12, 2004. This NPRM is FCC 04-189 in EB Docket No. 04-296. See, notice in the Federal Register, August 30, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 167, at Pages 52843 - 52847.

Tuesday, November 30

8:30 AM - 3:00 PM. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST), Advanced Technology Program Advisory Committee will meet. Pre-registration is required. Contact Carolyn Peters by November 23 at or 301 975-5607. See, notice in the Federal Register, November 9, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 216, at Page 64907. Location: NIST, Administration Building, Lecture Room B, Gaithersburg, MD.

Extended deadline to submit comments to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) [38 pages in PDF] regarding use by unlicensed devices of broadcast television spectrum where the spectrum is not in use by broadcasters. See, story titled "FCC Adopts NPRM Regarding Unlicensed Use of Broadcast TV Spectrum" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 898, May 14, 2004, and story titled "FCC Releases NPRM Regarding Unlicensed Use of TV Spectrum" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 905, May 26, 2004. This NPRM is FCC 04-113 in ET Docket Nos. 04-186 and No. 02-380. See, notice (setting original deadlines) in the Federal Register, June 18, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 117, at pages 34103-34112; and notice [PDF] of extended deadlines, and erratum [PDF].

Wednesday, December 1

9:00 AM. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy will hold an event titled "briefing for members of the media". She will discuss her role in the ITU Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) Conference, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland on December 8-10, 2004. RSVP to Marybeth McCarrick at 202 418-0654 or Location: FCC, Room 8B115, 445 12th Street, SW.

12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Mass Media Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch. The title of the event is "Meet the Trade Press". No RSVP is required. Location: NAB, 1771 N St., NW.

Thursday, December 2

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in Rainbow Push Coalition v. FCC, No. 01-1072. Judges Henderson, Rogers and Tatel will preside. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave., NW.

The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host an event titled "18th Annual Chairman's Dinner". The reception will begin at 6:00 PM. The dinner begins at 7:30 PM. Location: Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave., NW.

Day one of a two day event hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) and the Practicing Law Institute (PLI) titled "22nd Annual Telecommunications Policy and Regulation Conference". The price to attend ranges from $1,165.50 to $1,295.00. See, registration form [PDF]. Location. Watergate Hotel, 2650 Virginia Ave., NW.

Friday, December 3

Day two of a two day event hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) and the Practicing Law Institute (PLI) titled "22nd Annual Telecommunications Policy and Regulation Conference". The price to attend ranges from $1,165.50 to $1,295.00. See, registration form [PDF]. Location. Watergate Hotel, 2650 Virginia Ave., NW.

12:00 NOON - 2:00 PM. The Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF) will host a panel discussion titled "The Myths and Realities of Universal Service: Revisiting the Justification for the Current Subsidies". The speakers will include Randolph May and Joseph Kraemer. See, notice and online registration page. Press contact: Patrick Ross at 202 289-8928 or Lunch will be served. Location: Room B369, Rayburn Building.

Monday, December 6

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in James A. Kay v. FCC, No. 02-1175. This is a case pertaining to the finder's preference rule, 47 C.F.R. § 90.173(k)(2)(1992). See, FCC brief [pages in PDF]. Judges Edwards, Sentelle and Randolph will preside. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave., NW.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir), Panel A, will hear oral argument in Designing Health v. Erasmus (No. 03-1438), Northpoint Technology, Ltd v. MDS America, Inc. (No. 04-1249), and Taylor v. DaimlerChrysler (No. 04-1319). The Northpoint Technology case is an appeal from the U.S. District Court (SDFl) involving claims infringement of patents pertaining to use of DBS spectrum for terrestrial wireless services. See, FedCir calendar. Location: Courtroom 402, 717 Madison Place, NW.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir), Panel B, will hear oral argument in ISCO International v. Concuctus, Inc. (No. 04-1007) and Bellehumeur v. Bonnett (No. 04-1258). See, FedCir calendar. Location: Courtroom 203, 717 Madison Place, NW.

10:00 AM - 1:00 PM. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) will meet. See, notice [PDF]. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C305 (Commission Meeting Room).

Deadline to submit comments in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking by the Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) regarding telecommuting by federal contractors. See, notice in the Federal Register, October 5, 2004, Vol. 69, No.192, at Pages 59701 - 59702.

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