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February 21, 2006, Alert No. 1,314.
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Sen. Allen Introduces Bill to Allow Unlicensed Wireless Use of Broadcast White Space

2/17. Sen. George Allen (R-VA) introduced S 2327, the "Wireless Innovation Act of 2006", a bill to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to complete its broadcast white space rulemaking proceeding, with instructions that it "permit unlicensed, non-exclusive use of unassigned, non-licensed television broadcast channels between 54 MHz and 698 MHz".

The original cosponsors of the bill are Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). All four are members of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill.

Sen. George AllenSen. Allen (at right) stated in the Senate that "The goal of the Wireless Innovation Act is to unleash the power of advanced technological innovation to facilitate the development of wireless broadband Internet services. Specifically, our legislation allocates certain areas within the broadcast spectrum that are otherwise unassigned and unused, known as white spaces, for wireless broadband services." See, Congressional Record, February 17, 2006, at page S1471.

Back on May 13, 2004, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding use by unlicensed devices of broadcast television spectrum where the spectrum is not in use by broadcasters. The FCC released the text [38 pages in PDF] of this item on May 25, 2004. This NPRM is FCC 04-113 in ET Docket Nos. 04-186 and 02-380. See also, story titled "FCC Adopts NPRM Regarding Unlicensed Use of Broadcast TV Spectrum" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 898, May 14, 2004.

However, the FCC has not taken action in this proceeding.

The bill is short and simple. It instructs the FCC to issue an order in this proceeding, and further instructs the FCC in broad strokes what that order should contain.

The bill provides that "Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission shall complete its proceeding and issue a final order regarding white space in the matter of Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands, ET Docket No. 04-186."

It further requires that "In completing the requirement described in subsection (a), the Federal Communications Commission shall in such final order -- (1) permit unlicensed, non-exclusive use of unassigned, non-licensed television broadcast channels between 54 MHz and 698 MHz; (2) establish technical guidelines and requirements for the offering of unlicensed service in such band to protect incumbent licensed services and licensees from harmful interference; and (3) require unlicensed devices operating in such band to comply with existing certification processes."

Congressional Committees Hold Hearings on Trade

2/16. The House Ways and Means Committee (HWMC) held a hearing on February 15, 2006, regarding President Bush's trade agenda for 2006. The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) held a similar hearing on February 16. Rob Portman, head of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), testified at both hearings.

See, Portman's presentation slides submitted to both Committees. See also, February 14 USTR report [29 pages in PDF] titled "U.S.-China Trade Relations: Entering a New Phase of Greater Accountability and Enforcement: Top-to-Bottom Review".

Also, on February 16, the House Appropriations Committee's Science, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies held a hearing on the FY 2007 budget for the USTR.

Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA), the Chairman of the HWMC, wrote in his opening statement that "Many in Congress are concerned about the current status of the Doha Round. It seemed to me that several of our trading partners spent more energy in Hong Kong in trying to avoid free trade rather than liberalizing it, in particular, the European Union (EU), Japan, Brazil, and India. If countries were unwilling to move by December on key modalities, it is difficult for me to understand why they will move by the new deadline of April and finish by the end of 2006 before Trade Promotion Authority expires in 2007."

Rep. Bill ThomasRep. Thomas (at left) said that "we should continue to aggressively pursue our bilateral efforts to liberalize trade", and that "I am particularly pleased that we are launching negotiations with Korea".

He also focused on trade with Japan and China. He said that "Japan has a long history of blocking U.S. goods, devising non-tariff barriers that allow their firms and farmers to operate while keeping out imports. U.S. beef is only the most well-publicized example."

"The same holds for China", said Rep. Thomas. "The Chinese agreed to a host of improvements on intellectual property enforcement in last year’s Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) process, and we memorialized those in legislation last year, H.R. 3283, the Trade Rights Enforcements Act. The Senate has not acted on this important bill. In the meantime, it is not clear that China has taken the steps it promised."

The House approved HR 3283 on July 27, 2005 on a roll call vote of 255-168. See, Roll Call No. 437.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the SFC, wrote in his opening statement [PDF] that "More and more, bills are being introduced that address our trade relations with China. The top-to-bottom review will be an important resource for me as I intensify my own efforts to develop legislation over the next few weeks. I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress on China’s currency, so that’s one area I’m looking into. Other areas that need attention include compliance efforts, trade enforcement, and trade enhancement so that more Americans benefit from our trading relationship."

Sen. Grassley also discussed Doha round negotiations. He said that "Realistically, the negotiations must be completed by the end of this year if Congress is going to implement a Doha trade agreement prior to the termination of Trade Promotion Authority in July 2007. Ambassador Portman took a bold step to reinvigorate the negotiations last October by tabling an ambitious offer on agriculture. Unfortunately, that offer has not been matched in ambition by our negotiating partners."

He stated that "Congress will not accept any agreement that fails to provide meaningful market access for U.S. agricultural exports, in developed and developing countries alike." He added that "our manufacturers and service providers must also see substantial market access liberalization".

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the ranking Democrat on the SFC, wrote in his opening statement [PDF] that "a more competitive America requires us to focus more resources on trade enforcement."

He continued that "there is a very real sense in the Congress that our trading partners do not always play by the rules. And there is a sense that we do not do enough to make sure that they do."

He concluded, "That’s why, this afternoon, Senator Hatch, Senator Stabenow, and I will introduce the Trade Competitiveness Act of 2006. Our bill includes a new Senate-confirmed Chief Trade Enforcement Officer, new reporting requirements, and additional funds."

Sen. Baucus introduced this bill, S 2317, on February 16. Sen. Baucus spoke in the Senate regarding this bill. He said that "This bill is the first in a comprehensive package of legislation that I will introduce during the next few weeks to bolster American competitiveness." He said that "this bill will step up trade enforcement in five ways."

First, he said that "every year, the USTR will be required to identify the biggest trade barriers hurting the U.S. economically. The USTR will have to get Congress's input. And the USTR will be required to act, through the WTO or in some other way, to break those barriers down."

Second, he said that this bill "will create a ``Chief Trade Enforcement Officer´´ at the USTR. This person will be confirmed by the Senate. His or her entire job will be to investigate enforcement concerns and recommend action to the USTR."

Third, he said that this bill "will create a ``Trade Enforcement Working Group´´ in the Executive Branch. It will be chaired by the USTR, and include representatives of the Departments of Commerce, State, Agriculture, and Treasury."

Fourth, he said that this bill "provides $5 million additional to the USTR for enforcement."

Fifth, he said that this bill "will send a strong message to the International Monetary Fund. It will urge our Administration to tell the IMF to get aggressive with countries that manipulate their own currency to obtain a trade advantage. It will also urge the IMF to undertake reforms so it becomes more transparent and more representative of the emerging economies in Asia."

Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), commented on trade with China in a February 16 release. He said that "the Chinese market has become increasingly more attractive to consumer electronics manufacturers and distributors", but that "serious challenges to our industry's trade relationship persist. Among these obstacles are insufficient intellectual property rights enforcement, a failure to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) government procurement agreement, and the absence of industry-led, open and transparent standards development and conformity assessment procedures."

District Court Issues Order Regarding FOIA Request for DOJ/NSA Records

2/16. The U.S. District Court (DC) issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order [PDF] in EPIC v. DOJ, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case arising out of the Electronic Privacy Information Center's (EPIC)  request for documents regarding the National Security Agency's (NSA) extra-judicial electronic surveillance program.

See also, story titled "EPIC Files FOIA Complaint Against DOJ for Records Related to NSA Domestic Terrorist E-Surveillance" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,295, January 24, 2006.

On Friday, February 10 the Court held a hearing on the EPIC's motion [PDF] for an order compelling the DOJ to expedite its processing of the request. On February 16 the Court issued its order. It provides that "the "DOJ shall complete the processing of EPIC's December 16, 2005 FOIA requests and produce or identify all responsive records within 20 days", and that the "DOJ shall provide EPIC with a document index and declaration, as specified in Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1973), stating its justification for the withholding of any documents responsive to EPIC’s requests within 30 days".

This case is EPIC v. DOJ, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, D.C. No. 06-0096, Judge Henry Kennedy presiding.

Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Tuesday, February 21

The House will not meet on Monday, February 20, through Friday, February 24. It will next meet on Tuesday, February 28. See, Republican Whip Notice.

The Senate will not meet on Monday, February 20, through Friday, February 24. See, 2006 Senate calendar.

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. The Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Advisory Committee on Smaller Public Companies will hold a meeting. For more information, contact Kevin O'Neill at 202 551-3260. See, notice. Location: SEC Headquarters, Room L-006, 100 F Street, NE.

12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Mass Media Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch titled "Broadcasters Delve Into the Digital Future". The speakers will be Rick Chessen (Sheppard Mullin), David Fleming (General Counsel of Gannett Broadcasting), Albert Shuldiner (General Counsel of iBiquity), Steve Smith (Broadcast Technology Consultants, Inc.), and Mike Starling (NPR). For more information, contact Eva Dia at edia at sheppardmullin dot com. Location: Sheppard Mullin, 1300 I Street, 11th floor.

Wednesday, February 22

10:00 AM. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) will host a news conference on the release a report on "Erosion of Privacy Protections in the Digital Age". Jerry Berman and Jim Dempsey of the CDT will speak. The CDT notice states that the remote call-in number is (800) 377-8846, and that the participant code is 48434056#. It adds that "Reporters planning to participate in person or by phone should RSVP with David McGuire (202) 637-9800 x106" or dmcguire at cdt dot org. Location: CDT conference room, 1634 I St. NW, 11th floor.

12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) International Telecommunications Committee will host a brown bag lunch. The topic will be the FCC's International Bureau's (IB) accomplishments in 2005 and goals for 2006. The speaker will be Don Abelson, Chief of the IB. For more information, contact Ann Henson at ann at fcba dot org. Location: Skadden Arps, 11th floor, 700 14th St., NW.

12:00 NOON. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Wireless Committee will host a lunch. The topic will be "Impact of the U.S. Wireless Industry on the U.S. Economy". The speaker will be Roger Entner (Ovum). The price to attend is $15. Registrations and cancellations are due by 12:00 NOON on February 17. See, registration form [PDF]. Location: Sidley Austin, 1500 K Street, 6th Floor.

2:00 - 4:00 PM. The Department of State's International Telecommunication Advisory Committee (ITAC) will hold the seventh in a series of weekly meetings to prepare for the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) 2006 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, to be held November 6-24, 2006, in Antalya, Turkey. See, notice in the Federal Register, December 21, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 244, at Page 75854. This notice incorrectly states that these meetings will be held on Tuesdays; they are on Wednesdays. For more information, contact Julian Minard at 202 647-2593 or minardje at state dot gov. Location: AT&T, 1120 20th St., NW.

Thursday, February 23

8:00 AM - 2:00 PM. The Board of Directors of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) will meet. For more information, contact: Barbara York or Kawania Wooten at 202 775-3669. Location: St. Regis Hotel.

6:00 - 8:00 PM. The DC Bar Association will host an event at which Kenneth Wainstein, U.S.Attorney for the District of Columbia, will speak. The price to attend ranges from $0-$15. For more information, call 202 626-3463. See, notice. Location: Hogan & Hartson, 555 13th St., NW.

Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the rules for expanding the scope of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to cover certain digital services. The FCC adopted a report and order (R&O) and further NPRM on November 3, 2005. The R&O expanded the categories of service providers that are subject to the FCC's EAS mandates to include providers of digital broadcast and cable TV, digital audio broadcasting, satellite radio, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services. The NPRM asks for comments how the FCC should plan this "next-generation alert and warning system". See, story titled "FCC Requires DBS, Satellite Radio, Digital Broadcasters, and Others to Carry AES Communications" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,247, November 4, 2005. The R&O and NPRM is FCC 05-191 in EB Docket No. 04-296. It was released on November 10, 2005. See, notice in the November 25, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 226, at Pages 71072 - 71077.

Friday, February 24

11:45 AM - 2:00 PM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a program titled "The Google Copyright Controversy: Implications of Digitizing the World's Libraries". The speakers will be Robert Hahn (AEI-Brookings Joint Center), Douglas Lichtman (University of Chicago), and Hal Varian (University of California at Berkeley). See, notice. Location: AEI, 12th floor, 1150 17th St., NW.

Monday, February 27

The Senate will return from its Presidents' Day recess. See, 2006 Senate calendar.

12:30 PM. New York Governor George Pataki will give a speech. See, notice. Location: Ballroom, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th floor.

Tuesday, February 28

The House will return from its President's Day District Work Period at 2:00 PM. See, Republican Whip Notice.

8:30 AM - 4:45 PM. Day one of a two day conference hosted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) titled "Improving Spectrum Management through Economic or Other Incentives". See, notice. Location: National Academy of Sciences, Lecture Room, 2101 Constitution Ave., NW. The entrance at 2100 C St.

9:30 - 11:30 AM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a panel discussion titled "Former SEC Division Directors Give Their Views on Regulatory Reform". The speakers will be Barry Barbash, Kathryn McGrath, Paul Roye, and Marianne Smythe. See, notice. Location: AEI, 12th floor, 1150 17th St., NW.

10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "USF Contributions". See, notice. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

12:00 NOON - 1:15 PM. The DC Bar Association will host a panel discussion titled "Patent Law Update: Impact Of Recent Federal Circuit Decisions On Crafting Patent Applications". The speaker will be Dale Lazar (DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary). The price to attend ranges from $10-$30. For more information, call 202 626-3463. See, notice. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1250 H Street NW, B-1 Level.

1:00 - 6:30 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) will host a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled "Communications Law 101". Location: Wiley Rein & Fielding, 1776 K St., NW.

2:30 PM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "USF Distribution". See, notice. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

5:00 PM. Deadline to submit comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Computer Security Division regarding its Draft Special Publication 800-73-1, titled "Interfaces for Personal Identity Verification". See also, summary [3 pages in PDF] titled "Proposed Changes to SP 800-73".

6:30 - 8:30 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Young Lawyers Committee will host an event titled "Happy Hour".  For more information, contact Jason Friedrich at  jason dot friedrich at dbr dot com or Natalie Roisman at natalie dot roisman at fcc dot gov. Location: Restaurant Kolumbia, 1801 K Street, NW.

People and Appointments

2/17. The Senate confirmed Carol Dinkins and Alan Charles Raul to be the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. See, Congressional Record, February 17, 2006, at page S1487. Bush announced these nominations back on June 10, 2005. See, story titled "Bush Names Members of Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,151, June 10, 2005. This Board was created by Section 1061 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. This bill was S 2845 in the 108th Congress. It is now Public Law No. 108-458.

2/17. The Senate confirmed Randall Kroszner to be a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the unexpired term of 14 years from February 1, 1994. The Senate also confirmed Kevin Warsh to be a member for the unexpired term of 14 years from February 1, 2004. See, Congressional Record, February 17, 2006, at page S1487.

2/17. The Senate confirmed Edward Lazear to be a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. See, Congressional Record, February 17, 2006, at page S1487.

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