|House and Senate Approve Five Week Extension
of Sunsetted Sections of PATRIOT Act
12/22. The House and Senate approved a bill to extend the date upon
which 16 sections of the USA PATRIOT Act sunset, from December 31, 2005, to
February 3, 2006. The bill is
S 2167, a
short untitled bill that merely extends the sunset date.
Late on December 21, the Senate approved a version of the bill with a six month
extension -- until July 1, 2006. However,
Rep. James Sensenbrenner
(R-WI), the Chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee and the floor manager of the huge
report [PDF] on
HR 3199, the
"USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005", refused to support
the six month extension.
When the House met at 4:00 PM, he offered an amendment that substituted the date
"February 3, 2006" for "July 1, 2006". The House approved
the amendment, and then the bill as amended, without roll call votes. (Few
members of the House or Senate are still in Washington DC.)
Thursday night the Senate approved the bill with the five week extension, by
unanimous consent. Sen. John Warner
(R-VA) was present to conduct the formality.
Many of the Senate opponents of the conference report have argued that they
need more time to debate the bill. However, the five week extension approved by
the Congress will allow little opportunity for debate. First, the extension is
only five weeks.
Second, most members of the House and Senate are already away from Washington for
the Christmas and New Year's break. The Senate will not formally convene for the 2nd
Session of the 109th Congress until January 18, 2006. See,
2006 Senate calendar. The House will not formally convene for the 2nd Session until
Tuesday, January 31, 2006. See, Majority Whip's
Third, the Senate committee that would hold any hearings would be the
Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). Yet, it
is committed to holding hearings on the nomination of Judge Sam Alito to be Justice of
the Supreme Court beginning on Monday, January 9. Moreover, three of the leading
opponents of the conference report are members of the SJC,
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT),
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the Chairman of the
SJC, previously stated that the SJC would take up the asbestos bill after the Alito
nomination. See, story titled "Sen. Specter Outlines Schedule for Senate Judiciary
Committee" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,269, December 9, 2005.
If Senate Democrats were to use time during the Alito hearings to criticize the PATRIOT
Act, it would be at the cost time spent criticizing Alito.
(at right) stated in a release on December 22 that "Eight days ago, a bipartisan
majority of the House, including 44 Democrats, voted for the PATRIOT Act conference
report. Last night, the Senate ignored the will of the bipartisan majority of the House,
a majority of the PATRIOT Act House-Senate conferees, and a clear majority of Senators
by failing to consider the PATRIOT Act conference report. Instead, the Senate chose to
punt the issue to next year by passing a six-month extension of the PATRIOT Act that
contains none of the important civil liberties safeguards carefully negotiated by House
and Senate conferees and included in the PATRIOT Act conference report."
"A key reason given for agreeing to last night's Senate deal was that
Senators needed more time to fully debate the conference report. Today, the
House addressed this concern by passing an extension of the PATRIOT Act until
February 3, 2006. I'm pleased today's House passage and the Senate's expected
passage later today of this five-week extension will give the Senate enough time
to fully debate and consider the conference report."
"I will take Democratic Senators at their word that they do not want the
PATRIOT Act to expire, Senator Reid's boast of 'killing the PATRIOT Act,'
notwithstanding. I also hope Democratic Senators will evaluate this vital
national security issue on its merits, and not view it as a Washington power
struggle, as evidenced by Senator Feingold's comment yesterday, 'They lost the
game of chicken.' The security of the American people must not be held hostage
to the partisan brinksmanship of a minority of obstructionist Senators. It is
imperative that the House-passed PATRIOT Act conference report be considered and
passed by the Senate in a timely manner to ensure that our Nation's law
enforcement and intelligence communities are provided the tools necessary to
detect and defeat terrorist threats."
Bush stated in a
early on December 22 that "I appreciate the strong commitment by the majority of
the House and of the Senate to re-authorize the Patriot Act. The terrorists are
determined to strike America again and inflict even greater damage than they did
on September 11, 2001. The Patriot Act is essential to protecting the American
people against the terrorists. The Act tore down the wall between law
enforcement and intelligence officials so that they can share information and
work together to help prevent attacks. The Senate Democratic leader boasted last
week that the Senate Democrats had "killed the Patriot Act." Our Nation's
security must be above partisan politics. The Patriot Act has helped us disrupt
terrorist plots and break up cells here in the United States. I will work
closely with the House and Senate to make sure that we are not without this
crucial law for even a day.
Bush stated in a
speech on the South Lawn of the White House at 2:25 PM, before the House
approval of its version of the bill, that "It appears to me that the Congress
understands we've got to keep the Patriot Act in place, that we're still under threat,
there's still an enemy that wants to harm us and they understand the Patriot Act is an
important tool for those of us here in the executive branch to use to protect
our fellow citizens. The Senate extended the Patriot Act by six months."
Sen. Leahy stated in a
Congressional approval of the February 3 extension,
that "It is encouraging that Senate leaders, then the President and now House
leaders have eventually come to agree with us about the value of taking more
time to make the PATRIOT Act better. The amount of time is less important than
the good faith effort that will be needed in improving the PATRIOT Act to strike
the right balance in respecting Americansí liberty and privacy, while protecting
The ACLU's Caroline Fredrickson stated in a
"Regardless of the length of the extension into next year, the most important
issue is the need to reform the secret powers expanded by the Patriot Act to
protect the privacy and liberty of ordinary Americans. A bipartisan majority of
the Senate already agrees that the conference report that the House and the
White House are pushing does not protect our most fundamental constitutional
|EU Seeks More Money and Disclosures from
12/22. The European Commission (EC) issued a Statement of Objections, and
releases, pertaining to its ongoing antitrust proceeding against Microsoft.
Back in March of 2004, the EC announced its decision mandating that Microsoft
remove certain code from its products sold in the Europe, and that it license
certain proprietary technology and intellectual property rights to its
competitors. The EC also fined Microsoft 497 Euros in 2004.
See, stories titled "European Commission Seeks 497 Million Euros and Code
Removal from Microsoft" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 863, March 25, 2004, and "European Commission Releases Microsoft
Decision" in TLJ
Daily E-Mail Alert No. 883, April 23, 2004.
The EC's present Statement of Objections asserts that Microsoft has failed to
comply with the March 2004 decision, and seeks more money and disclosures from
Microsoft. See, EC
release. The EC stated in another
release that the fine would be "less than Ä2 million per day".
The U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust
Division has frequently criticized the EC's 2004 decision. At bottom, the US and the EC
take vastly different approaches to the application of competition law to single firm conduct.
See, for example, September 10, 2004
in Tokyo, Japan, by former Assistant Attorney General Hewitt Pate titled
"Securing the Benefits of Global Competition". See also, stories
titled "Pate Criticizes EC Decision Regarding Microsoft" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 869, April 5, 2004; "Pate Addresses US EU Differences on
Antitrust, Microsoft, and IPR" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 913, June 8, 2004; and "Pate
Addresses US Competition Law And Differences With EU" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 975, September 13, 2004.
Also, the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) will hold hearings on single firm conduct early next year.
See, story titled "Antitrust Division and FTC to Hold Hearings on Single Firm
Conduct" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,262, November 30, 2005.
The EC elaborated on December 22 that the 2004 decision "found Microsoft to
have infringed the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position (Article 82)
by leveraging its near monopoly in the market for PC operating systems onto the
markets for work group server operating systems and for media players. One of
the remedies imposed by the decision was for Microsoft to disclose complete and
accurate interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group
servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers. The
Statement of Objections indicates that the Commissionís preliminary view,
supported by two reports from the Monitoring Trustee ..., is that Microsoft has
not yet provided complete and accurate specifications for this interoperability
information. After giving Microsoft an opportunity to reply to the Statement of
Objections, the Commission may impose a daily penalty."
Brad Smith (at right), SVP and
General Counsel of Microsoft, stated in a
release that "We believe today's Statement of Objections is unjustified. The
Commission has issued this Statement regarding technical documentation we submitted last
week, even though by its own admission neither it nor the Trustee have even read or
reviewed these new documents."
He continued that "We revised the technical documents last week at the
Commission's request, responding to new feedback raised with us only six days before. In
the interest of due process, we think it would have been reasonable for the Commission and
the Trustee at least to read and review these new documents before criticizing
them as being insufficient."
He added that "We are fully committed to comply with the Decision. We've shipped a
new version of Windows, we've paid an historic fine, and we've provided
unprecedented access to Microsoft technology to promote interoperability with
other industry players. In total, we have now responded to more than 100
requests from the Commission. We continue working quickly to meet the
Commission's new and changing demands. Yet every time we make a change, we find
that the Commission moves the goal post and demands another change."
And, he said, "Of particular concern is the Commission's latest demand that the
internal workings of Windows be documented and licensed, which can open the door
to the production of clones of parts of the Windows operating system. During the
September 3, 2004 hearing with President Vesterdorf, the Commission clearly
stated this was not within the scope of its decision. Yet the Commission
confuses disclosure of the source code with disclosure of the internals and
insists that it will fine the company if it fails to address this."
|There will be no issue of the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert on
Monday, December 26, 2005, or Tuesday, December 27, 2005.
|Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
|Friday, December 23
The House will not meet.
The Senate will not meet.
Informal deadline to submit comments to
Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) and/or
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) regarding their
discussion draft [31
pages in PDF] of a bill to be titled the "Universal Service Reform Act of
2005". See, story titled "Reps. Terry and Boucher Propose New Internet
Taxes" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,257, November 21, 2005.
|Sunday, December 25
Hanukkah begins at sundown.
|Tuesday, December 27
There will be no issue of the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert.
Deadline to submit reply comments to the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response
to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding whether its roaming requirements
for commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers should be modified, expanded, or
eliminated. This NPRM is FCC 05-160 in WT Docket Nos. 05-265 and 00-193. See,
notice in the Federal Register, September 28, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 187, at
Pages 56612 - 56620.
Deadline for Broadband Radio Service (BRS) licensees in the 2150-2160/62
MHz band to file with the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) site and technical data. See, FCC Public Notice dated
November 30, 2005, and numbered DA 05-3126. See also,
notice in the Federal Register, December 14, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 239, at
Pages 74011 - 74014.
|Thursday, December 29
Deadline to submit comments to the
National Archives and Records Administration
(NARA) regarding its draft NARA guidance for implementing Section 207(e) of the
E-Government Act of 2002, which is now Public Law 107-347. This statute requires the
NARA to adopt "policies and procedures" that provide that federal archive
statutory requirements "are applied effectively and comprehensively to Government
information on the Internet and to other electronic records". See,
notice in the Federal Register, November 14, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 218, at
Pages 69165 - 69168.
|Friday, December 30
Deadline to submit initial comments to the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding a petition for
rulemaking of 13 hearing impairment related entities. Their petition requests
that the FCC initiate a rulemaking proceeding to mandate captioned telephone
relay service and to approve internet protocol captioned telephone relay
service. The FCC's
Public Notice [PDF] states that "Captioned
telephone service is a form of telecommunications relay service (TRS) that
permits persons to simultaneously both listen to what the other party is
saying and read captions of what the other party is saying on the same device.
Presently the service is eligible for compensation from the Interstate TRS
Fund (Fund), but is not mandatory. The petition asks the Commission to
initiate a rulemaking for the purpose of making captioned telephone service a
mandatory form of TRS and approving Internet Protocol (IP) captioned telephone
service as eligible for compensation from the Fund." (Footnotes omitted). This
notice is DA 05-2961 in CG Docket No. 03-123. See also,
notice in the November 30, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 229, at Pages 71849 - 71850.
|NIST Seeks Applications for EE and IT Lab
12/23. The National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) published a
notice in the Federal Register that announces, describes, and sets the
deadlines for applications in, various of its FY2006 small grants programs. The
notice lists nine grant programs, including the "Electronics and Electrical
Engineering Laboratory Grants Program" (EEELGP) and "Information Technology
Laboratory Grants Program" (ITLGP).
EEELGP grants cover "development of fundamental electrical metrology and of
metrology supporting industry and government agencies in the broad areas of
semiconductors, electronic instrumentation, radio-frequency technology,
optoelectronics, magnetics, video, electronic commerce as applied to electronic
products and devices, the transmission and distribution of electrical power,
national electrical standards (fundamental, generally quantum-based physical
standards), and law enforcement standards."
EEELGP grant applications are due by 5:00 PM EST on June 30, 2006.
ITLGP grants cover "the broad areas of mathematical and computational
sciences, advanced network technologies, and information access. Specific
objectives of interest in these areas of research include: Quantum information
theory, computational materials science, computational nanotechnology,
mathematical knowledge management, visual data analysis, verification and
validation of computer models, software testing, human-robot interaction, human
factors in voting systems, security for the IPv6 transition from and coexistence
with IPv6, and device mobility among heterogeneous networks."
applications are due by 5:00 PM EST on September 30, 2006. However, the NIST
adds that "Proposals received between July 1, 2006 and September 30,
2006 will be processed and considered for funding under this solicitation, but
if selected, proposals may be funded in the next fiscal year, subject to the
availability of funds."
See, Federal Register: December 23, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 246, at Pages 76241 -
12/22. The Government Accountability Office
(GAO) released a letter to
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) regarding
"Information Technology: Responses to Subcommittee Post-hearing
Questions Regarding the FBIís Management Practices and Acquisition of a New
Investigative Case Management System". Rep. Wolf is Chairman of the House
Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Science, the Departments of State,
Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies. The FBI is a unit of the Department
12/22. The Government Accountability Office (GAO)
released a report [29 pages in PDF]
titled "Homeland Security: DHS Needs to Improve Ethics-Related Management Controls
for the Science and Technology Directorate".
12/21. The Progress and Freedom Foundation
(PFF) release a
[9 pages in PDF] titled "Should the Patent Office be an Independent
Corporation? Pros and Cons". The author is the PFF's Solveig Singleton. She
concludes that "Restructuring the PTO to make it in some respects more
responsive to market forces may ultimately prove to be necessary, if more
incremental reforms to the patent office fail. At the present time, the patent
system is working well enough in the United States that restructuring may do
more harm than good. However, if the reputation of U.S. patents continues to
suffer internationally, and policymakers determine that there is fire where
there is smoke, the balance might well tip the other way." See also,
S 507 (105th
Congress), the "Omnibus Patent Act of 1997", and
(105th Congress), the "21st Century Patent System Improvement Act". Title I of
both bills, as introduced, provided for the creation of the "United States
Patent and Trademark Organization" as a government corporation. Like so many
other proposals for reforming the patent system over the years, this proposal
did not become law.
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