News Briefs from May 21-25, 2001

Nominations and Confirmations
5/25. The Senate approved by unanimous consent several nominations to the FCC (Michael Powell, Michael Copps, Kevin Martin, and Kathleen Abernathy) and the FTC (Timothy Muris). See, Commerce Committee release. This leaves both the FCC and FTC with three Republicans and two Democrats. In addition, FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, who is a Democrat from New Mexico, will likely resign soon to run for the Senate against Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM). By law, she must be replaced by a Democrat.
5/25. The Senate confirmed several nominations to the Department of Commerce, including Bruce Mehlman, Kathleen Cooper, and Mari Cino.
5/25. Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) withdrew his name from consideration for nomination by President Bush to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The prospective nomination had been opposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Privacy: EPIC Alleges Jeeves' Purchase of eTour Data Violates Law
5/25. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sent a letter to the FTC and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) alleging that Ask Jeeves' purchase of eTour's personal information of Internet users violates federal and state laws. EPIC asked the FTC and states "to block the sale of personal information from eTour, Inc. to Ask Jeeves, Inc. as an unfair and deceptive trade practice." EPIC also wrote that "the exchange of personal data between eTour, Inc. and Ask Jeeves, Inc. is part of a growing problem" and recommended "proactive solutions to prevent such scenarios from occurring in the future." EPIC elaborated that the "assets purchased by Ask Jeeves, Inc. from eTour, Inc. include the registration information from an estimated 4.5 million users and a list of 2.2 million e-mail newsletter subscribers."
Another Depreciation Bill Introduced
5/22. Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL) and 28 others introduced HR 1934, the Printed Circuit Investment Act of 2001, a bill to reduce to 3 years the depreciation period for "any printed wiring board or printed wiring assembly equipment." The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Rep. Crane is a senior member.
Bill Would Provide Gov Loans for Rural Broadband Deployment
5/25. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) introduced S 966, the Rural Broadband Enhancement Act, a bill to amend the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act to encourage deployment of broadband service to rural America. It was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Sen. Dorgan is a member. Sen. Dorgan stated that "To remedy the gap between urban and rural America, this legislation gives new authority to the Rural Utilities Service in consultation with NTIA to make low interest loans to companies that are deploying broadband technology to rural America." He added that "When we were faced with electrifying all of the country, we enacted the Rural Electrification Act. When telephone service was only being provided to well-populated communities, we expanded the Rural Electrification Act and created the Rural Utilities Service to oversee rural telephone deployment. The equitable deployment of broadband services is only the next step in keeping America connected, and our legislation would ensure that."
5/25. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) introduced HR 2038, the House version of the Rural Broadband Enhancement Act. It was referred to the House Commerce Committee, of which Rep. Stupak is a member, and to the House Agriculture Committee.
Federal Circuit Opinion
5/25. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in SKF USA v. U.S., an antidumping case involving the obligation of a court to remand a case to an administrative agency upon the agency’s change in policy or statutory interpretation. The Appeals Court held that the Court of International Trade erred in declining to remand the case to the Department of Commerce, and reversed that court’s decision in SKF USA Inc. v. United States, 77 F. Supp. 2d 1335 (CIT 1999).
Domain Names
5/25. The NTIA published in its web site Amendment 3 and Amendment 24 to the DOC/NSI Cooperative Agreement. See also, ICANN release.
5/25. Catherine Ronis joined the Washington DC office of the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering as a partner in the firm's Communications and Electronic Commerce group. Ronis was previously a partner at Skadden Arps. Her practices focuses on litigation involving the interconnection provisions of the Telecom Act of 1996. See, WCP release.
Rogan to Head USPTO
5/24. President Bush picked former Rep. James Rogan (R-CA) to be head of the USPTO. Formally, Bush nominated him to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Trademark Office. See, TLJ story and TLJ biography of Rogan (written in 1999).
Patent Hearing
5/24. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace, focusing on the antitrust implications of patent settlements. See, prepared testimony of witness: Gary Beuhler (Food and Drug Administration), Molly Boast (Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition), James Griffin (Antitrust Division), and Mark Shurtleff (Attorney General of Utah).
Federal Circuit Opinion in Patent Case
5/24. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Budde v. Harley Davidson, a patent infringement case involving fuel injection systems in reciprocating engines. Budde, the holder of U.S. Patent No. 4,955,348, filed a complaint for patent infringement in U.S. District Court (NDCal) against Harley Davidson. The District Court entered a judgment of non-infringement. The Appeals Court vacated the judgment, and remanded.
TiVo Awarded Patent
5/24. TiVo announced that the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 6,233,389 to it for a "Multimedia Timewarping System." The invention allows the user to store selected television broadcast programs while the user is simultaneously watching or reviewing another program. See also, TiVo release.
Weller and Matsui Introduce Global E-Commerce Resolution
5/24. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL) and Rep. Bob Matsui (D-CA) introduced HRes 151, a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the importance of promoting fair, efficient, and simple cross-border tax collection regimes that maintain market neutrality and promote free trade on all sales distribution channels within a globally networked economy. It was was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, of which both Weller and Matsui are members.
The resolution would express the sense of the House that the "Secretary of the Treasury should proactively seek to identify and resolve tax policy issues that will globally impact cross-border trade through the Internet". It also would provide that "the United States should work in good faith with our trading partners to ensure that any tax collection regimes that attempt to impose tax collection obligations on sellers outside the borders of the taxing jurisdiction promote the continued growth of electronic commerce by (A) imposing no greater administrative burdens or compliance obligations on Internet sellers than on any other seller; (B) providing simple and clear rules that allow the seller to identify, with certainty, the amount of the tax that must be collected, and that limit a seller's liability in situations where the seller has made commercially reasonable efforts to determine the correct tax; (C) allowing sellers to rely on customer-provided information available during the course of a transaction to determine the appropriate taxing jurisdiction; (D) taxing Internet sales the same as similar products sold through traditional, physical distribution channels, including applying the same tax rates to online sales and extending exemptions and thresholds to online sales; and (E) incorporating rules that require sellers and governments to respect the privacy interests of consumers."
Representatives Criticize IRS Misuse of Internet
5/24. Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) stated on the House floor that "IRS employees used about half their on-line time at work to visit sex sites, gamble, trade stocks and visit chat rooms"; he cited stories by the Washington Times and Scripps Howard News Service. He concluded that "Federal employees who use work computers to visit sex sites, gamble, trade stocks and visit chat rooms are underworked, overpaid and should be fired." Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) had this to say in the House on May 25: "IRS agents illegally used their computers for shopping, stock trading, gambling and pormography. Unbelievable. Think about it. While 60 percent of taxpayer calls to the IRS go unanswered, the IRS agents were watching Marilyn Chambers do the Rotary International. Beam me up ..."
PRC Trade
5/24. Rep. James Traficant (D-OH), who regularly gives flamboyant one minute speeches in the House, stated that "China illegally bought U.S. microchips to build new missiles and to aim them at the United States of America. Mr. Speaker, beam me up. The American taxpayers are funding World War III, so help me God. I yield back the fact that the nature of a dragon is not to negotiate with its prey. The nature of a dragon is to kill its prey."
FCC, FTC and Commerce Nominees Approved by Committee
5/24. The Senate Commerce Committee approved several nominations to the FCC (Michael Powell, Michael Copps, Kevin Martin, and Kathleen Abernathy), the FTC (Timothy Muris), and the Department of Commerce (Bruce Mehlman, Kathleen Cooper, and Mari Cino). See, release.
Olson Confirmed
5/24. The Senate confirmed Ted Olson to be Solicitor General by a vote of 51 to 47. It was a straight party line vote, except that Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted for confirmation.
Cyber Crime Hearing
5/24. The House Judiciary Committee's Crime Subcommittee held an oversight hearing titled Fighting Cyber Crime: Efforts by State and Local Officials. See, opening statement of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee. See also, prepared statements of witnesses: Michael McCaul (Dep. Atty. Gen. of Texas) and Ronald Stevens (New York State Police).
Trade Promotion Authority
5/24. The New Democratic Coalition released a set of principles for granting the President trade promotion authority (also know as fast track) which include consideration for labor and environmental standards. Trade promotion authority would enhance the President's ability to negotiate trade agreements by allowing the Congress to approve or reject, but not amend, trade agreements negotiated by the President. See, release. See also, report written by the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank operated by the New Democrats
Republicans welcomed the qualified support of the New Democrats for trade promotion authority. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) stated, "I welcome the principles for building a bipartisan consensus for trade promotion authority advanced by the New Democrat coalition. These principles are a constructive contribution to the critically important goal of rebuilding a bipartisan accord on trade. Democrats as well as Republicans recognize that we have to come together to restore America's leadership in international trade. ... Without trade promotion authority, our negotiators will lack the credibility they need to fight for, and conclude, trade agreements that benefit all Americans." USTR Robert Zoellick stated "I am encouraged by their constructive proposal to move the trade agenda forward. Their trade principles reflect a pragmatic approach to trade and an understanding of the challenges we face in opening foreign markets." See, USTR release.
Bill Would Amend Rules Affecting Internet Education
5/24. Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE), and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced HR 1992, the Internet Equity and Education Act of 2001. The bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to expand the opportunities for higher education via the Internet. Currently, the HEA limits the amount of aid a student enrolled in distance education courses delivered via telecommunications may receive if the institution offers half or more of its courses by correspondence or telecommunications. HR 1992 would remove this limitation for postsecondary institutions that are already participating in the federal student loan programs with student loan default rates under 10%. The bill would also repeal of a 12-hour rule with respect to non-standard term programs. This rule governs the amount of "seat-time" students must spend in class per week. Finally, the bill addresses incentive compensation. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. See also, Isakson statement in Congressional Record, Isakson release, and McKeon statement in Congressional Record.
Web Sites and Broker Dealer Registration
5/24. The SEC issued an administrative cease and desist order against Paul Nortman in connection with his operation of, an online trading software provider. The SEC determined that acted as an unregistered broker-dealer in violation of Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act. See, SEC release.
More News
5/24. WebLink Wireless filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in the U.S. District Court (NDTex). WebLink Wireless is a Dallas, Texas, based provider of wireless data and paging services.
5/24. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau announced that it imposed a $94,500 fine against SBC Communications for violating the FCC's collocation rules. See, EB release. SBC has a market capitalization of over $145 Billion, and has reported Q1 2001 earnings of $1.7 Billion; see, SBC earnings release.
5/24. The ICANN published in its web site a memorandum titled "Criteria for Establishment of New Regional Internet Registries." The ICANN's next round of meetings will be held on June 1-4, 2001, in Stockholm, Sweden. See, Stockholm meetings page.  
5/24. The FCC's Advisory Committee for the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference held a meeting.
5/24. The U.S. District Court (NDCal) sentenced Roger Guerroro to one year in prison for using a computer in interstate commerce in an attempt to coerce and entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual acts in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b). Guerrero will also be subject to restrictions, including prohibitions on unsupervised use of computers or the Internet. See, indictment [PDF] and release.
House Judiciary Committee Adopts Anti Spam Bill
5/23. The House Judiciary Committee amended and approved HR 718, an anti spam bill, on a voice vote, after a day long mark up session. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) introduced the bill on February 14. The House Commerce Committee approved an amended version on April 4. The two Committees' versions are now substantially different. See, Commerce Committee version adopted on April 4; see also, Judiciary Committee's amendment in the nature of a substitute, Goodlatte amendment, and Hart amendment, which were all adopted by the Judiciary Committee on May 23. The Commerce Committee version would criminalize sending unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) to someone who has asked to be removed from a distribution list. The bill would also require UCE to be labeled as such. It would also give individuals and ISPs separate causes of action for violation of the act; and, it would give civil enforcement authority to FTC, and a parens patriae cause of action to the states. The Judiciary Committee version eliminates any authority or cause of action for the FTC, states, or individuals. It would criminalize sending UCE with false header information, give a private right of action to ISPs to recover actual or statutory damages for sending UCE with false header information, and require that e-mail that contains contains sexually oriented advertisements to be labeled as such. See, TLJ story.
EEOC Finds Library Policy of Unrestricted Internet Access Creates Sexually Hostile Work Environment for Librarians
5/23. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Minneapolis Area Office, issued a Determination that the Minneapolis Public Library subjected librarians employed by the library to a "sexually hostile work environment" in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for allowing unrestricted Internet access to online smut. The librarians filed complaints with the EEOC that stated that the library's policy of unrestricted Internet access, which allowed patrons to view and print out any obscene content, combined with the library's policy that librarians enforce a 30 minute time limit on Internet use, forced librarians to observe obscene content, subjected librarians to abuse by patrons accessing obscenity, and exposed librarians to masturbatory scholars. See, TLJ story.
E-Mail Address Harvesting
5/23. Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) offered an amendment to the SPAM bill that would have banned the harvesting of e-mail addresses from web sites for the purpose of sending UCE to those addresses. Rep. Sensenbrenner stated that this was "not the proper time and place to offer this amendment." He stated that it "prejudices the database and privacy debates." Rep. Sensenbrenner promised to work on this issue with Rep. Cannon, who then withdrew his amendment.
R&D Tax Credit
5/23. The Senate approved the Restoring Earnings to Lift Individuals and Empower Families (RELIEF) Act of 2001, the $1.35 trillion tax cut compromise bill, by a vote of 62 to 38. Several amendments were adopted, including one offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) which makes permanent the research and development tax credit, and increases the increases alternative incremental credit.
Export Administration Act
5/23. The House International Relations Committee held a hearing on the Export Administration Act. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), Chairman of the Committee, said in his opening statement that "the Commerce Department has in place a series of regulations providing for the control and monitoring of the export of sensitive commodities, including high performance computers, software, machine tools and other items." Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced S 149, the Export Administration Act, in the Senate on January 23. It was amended and approved by the Senate Banking Committee on March 22 by a vote of 19 to 1. It eases restraints on the export of most dual use products, such as computers and software. Rep. Hyde added that in light of S 149's "significance to our economic and national security interests, we will give this legislation all the time and attention it deserves ensuring that it receives a thorough review and vetting." Kenneth Juster, the recently confirmed Under Secretary for Export Administration, testified at the hearing. He stated in his prepared testimony that the Bush administration supports S 149.
FCC E-Rate Rules
5/23. Wednesday, May 23 was the deadline to file comments with the FCC in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding revisions to the method of subsidizing schools and libraries under its e-rate program. The FCC's e-rate program subsidizes schools' and libraries' expenses for telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections. The FCC has set the total subsidy level at $2.25 Billion per year. The total annual requests for these free subsidies now exceeds $2.25 Billion. The FCC published 13 comments received on May 23 in in web site. See, for example, comments submitted by Qwest, WorldCom, NY Public Library, American Library Association. (The NPRM is published at Federal Register, May 8, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 89, at Pages 23204 - 23208.)
Privacy News
5/23. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing titled "How Secure Is Private Medical Information? A Review of Computer Security at the Health Care Financing Administration and Its Medicare Contractors." See, prepared testimony of witnesses: John Van Walker and Jared Adair (Health Care Financing Administration), Joseph Vengrin and Ed Meyers (Department of Health and Human Services), and Michael Neuman (En Garde Systems, Inc.).
5/23. The FTC announced that TRUSTe, an Internet privacy seal program, has been approved as a "safe harbor" program under the terms of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). See, FTC letter to TRUSTe and FTC release.
People and Appointments
5/23. FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott- Roth announced that, after leaving the FCC, he will join the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) as a visiting fellow. At AEI, he will write a book on telecommunications policy. See, FCC release.
5/23. Sarah Whitesell will become the Associate Chief of the FCC's Cable Services Bureau, effective June 21, 2001. She is currently a legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani. Before joining the FCC she was an associate at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering. See, release.
5/23. FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani announced several changes to her personal staff. Senior Legal Advisor William Friedman and Legal Advisor Sarah Whitesell will depart in June. Former advisors Paul Gallant and Deena Shetler will rejoin Tristani's staff. Gallant will be Legal Advisor for mass media and cable issues, and Shetler will be Legal Advisor for common carrier issues. Adam Krinsky, who covers wireless and international issues, will be Senior Legal Advisor. See, release.
5/23. President Bush announced his intent to nominate William Riley to serve as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. See, release.
5/23. The House Judiciary Committee added Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to the membership of the Subcommittee on Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property. Rep. Weiner also left the Subcommittee on Crime.
5/23. James Jochum was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Export Administration at the Department of Commerce. See, release.
Online Fraud and Crime
5/23. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection held a hearing titled On-line Fraud and Crime: Are Consumers Safe? See, prepared testimony of witnesses: Bruce Swartz (Criminal Division, DOJ), Thomas Kubic (FBI), Eileen Harrington (FTC), Bruce Townsend (Secret Service), Scott Charney (Price Waterhouse Coopers), Susan Grant (National Consumers League), and Mark MacCarthy (Visa USA).
5/23. The FBI, Department of Justice, and the National White Collar Crime Center announced that criminal charges have been brought against approximately 90 individuals and companies as part of a nationwide series of investigations into Internet fraud, code named "Operation Cyber Loss". See, FBI release.
5/23. The U.S. Attorneys Office (SDCal) unsealed an indictment returned by a grand jury of the U.S. District Court (SDCal) against 20 individuals charging wire fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud, and other crimes, in connection with an operation that designed, developed and marketed of a series of high tech and telecom related securities which were not registered and which were fraudulently described to investors as general partnerships. See, USAO release.
GAO Reports on NIPC Weaknesses
5/22. The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information held a hearing titled Challenges in Cybercrime: The National Infrastructure Protection Center. See, GAO report [PDF] titled "Critical Infrastructure Protection: Significant Challenges in Developing National Capabilities", and prepared testimony [PDF] of Robert Dacey, Director of Information Security Issues at the GAO. The report concluded that the FBI's NIPC "has issued numerous analyses to support investigations of individual incidents, but it has developed only limited capabilities for strategic analysis of threat and vulnerability data. Accordingly, the NIPC often is not able to provide timely information on changes in threat conditions or warnings of imminent attacks." The report also concluded that "it will take an intense interagency effort to develop the related methodology. In addition, information on critical infrastructure components has not been provided to the NIPC, and the NIPC does not yet have adequate staff and technical expertise." In contrast, the report found that "The NIPC has had greater success in providing technical support and coordination for the FBI’s investigations of attacks on computer systems, which it refers to as 'computer crime.' "
AG Ashcroft Addresses Cyber Crime
5/22. Attorney General John Ashcroft gave a speech to the First Annual Computer Privacy, Policy, and Security Institute at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. He discussed the difficulties involved in investigating cybercrimes, and efforts by the FBI and DOJ to increase the cyber crime capabilities. He also encouraged victims of cybercrimes to promptly report criminal activity.
Subcommittee Approves Patent Bills
5/22. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property adopted two bills pertaining to patent reexaminations, HR 1866 and HR 1886, by unanimous voice votes after a brief discussion. HR 1866 is intended to overturn the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) in In Re Portola Packaging. HR 1886 affords all participants, including third party requesters, in reexamination proceedings judicial review before federal appeals courts. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) also used the occasion to suggest other changes to patent law that he would like the subcommittee to consider at some later date. See, excerpts from the hearing. See, TLJ story.
Rule Correction
5/22. The USPTO published in the Federal Register, and in its web site, a notice of corrections to its final rule of March 22, 2001, revising the rules of practice relating to applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) to conform the United States rules of practice to the PCT Regulations that became effective on March 1, 2001.
House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Broadband Bills
5/22. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing HR 1698, the "American Broadband Competition Act of 2001," and HR 1697, the "Broadband Competition and Incentives Act of 2001," a pair of bills introduced on May 3, 2001 by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The Committee also heard testimony on HR 1542, a bill sponsored by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), and reported by the House Commerce Committee on May 9. The sponsors and supporters of all of these bills assert that they will incent widespread deployment of broadband services. See, TLJ story.
Privacy and Social Security Numbers
5/22. The House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Social Security of the Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on protecting the privacy and preventing misuse of Social Security numbers. Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee, said in his opening statement that "I, along with several of my Ways and Means colleagues, plan to reintroduce our bipartisan legislation. I will then work with my colleagues from Ways and Means, and from the other Committees of jurisdiction, to quickly bring to the House floor comprehensive legislation to keep Social Security numbers private and protect citizens from identity theft." See, prepared testimony of witness: Nicole Robinson (identity theft victim), Emeka Moneme (identity theft victim), James Huse (Social Security Admin.), Michael Robinson (Social Security Admin.), Michael Fabozzi (NYC Police Dept.), Charles Bacarisse (District Clerk, Harris County, Texas), Cory Kravit (University of Florida), Evan Hendricks (Privacy Times), John Dugan (Financial Services Coordinating Council), Marc Rotenberg (EPIC), Ronald Plesser (Individual Reference Services Group), Paula LeRoy (Pension Benefit Information Services), and Edmund Mierzwinski (U.S. Public Interest Research Group).
Trade and E-Commerce
5/22. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection held a hearing on Impediments to Digital Trade. See, prepared testimony of witnesses: Bonnie Richardson (Motion Picture Association of America), George Vradenburg (AOL/Time Warner), Deborah Waggoner (Corning Inc.), Barbara Wellbery (Morrison and Foerster), and Jeffrey Kovar (State Dept.). See also, release or Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee.
Trade and Fast Track
5/22. The Progressive Policy Institute, a Democratic Party think tank, released a briefing paper that supports, in part, President Bush's request for fast track trade negotiating authority. The paper, which was authored by Edward Gresser, stated that "We continue to believe approval of trade promotion authority makes sense. It is a proven way to facilitate passage of trade agreements in the U.S. national interest".
FCC Budget
5/22. The House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, State, Justice and the Judiciary held a hearing on the FY 2002 budget of the FCC. FCC Chairman Michael Powell testified that the FCC seeks $248,545,000, which is $18.5 Million more that the previous year's appropriation, an 8 percent increase. See, Powell testimony [PDF].
Cell Phone Health Issues
5/22. The GAO released a report [PDF] titled "Telecommunications: Research and Regulatory Efforts on Mobile Phone Health Issues." The report, which was prepared at the request of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), states that "the research to date does not show that mobile phone radiofrequency emissions have adverse health effects but there is not enough information at this point to conclude that these products are without risk." Lieberman and Markey called for further study. See, Markey statement and Lieberman release. See also, CTIA release.
Wireless Spectrum Cap
5/22. The Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America submitted a comment [PDF] to the FCC in which they argued that the FCC should not lift the 45 MHz spectrum cap for wireless services. (See, FCC Docket No. 01-14.)
First Amendment Rights of Whistleblowers to Report Misuse of Government Computers
5/22. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Hufford v. McEnaney, a case involving First Amendment rights of government employees to report misuse of government computers. Hufford, Shift Captain of a local fire department in Idaho, discovered that fire department employees had used a fire department computer with Internet access to download pornography, including pictures a females aged 7-9. He reported his findings to a superior, and to the police department. The fire department then fired Hufford in retaliation for reporting his findings. Hufford filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DId) against the Chief, Deputy Chief, and Commissioners of the fire department, alleging violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds of qualified immunity. The District Court denied the motion, and defendants brought this interlocutory appeal. The Appeals Court affirmed. It wrote that "discharging Hufford in retaliation for his truthful whistleblowing violated his constitutionally protected right to free speech."
Perkins Coie Names New Partners and Of Counsel
5/22. The Seattle based law firm of Perkins Coie announced the promotion of 17 partners and 2 of counsel. See, release.
San Francisco office: Nicole Wong, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Bay Area Content Group, focuses on Internet, intellectual property and media law. Rachel Silvers, who was promoted to of counsel, also focuses on Internet, intellectual property and media law.
Seattle office: Steven Lawrenz, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Patent Group, focuses on computer software patent matters. Paul Parker, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Patent Group, focuses on patents for semiconductor fabrication, mechanical devices and processes, trademark prosecution and litigation, patent licensing, technology transfer and intellectual property. Brent Snyder, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Litigation Department, focuses on intellectual property and antitrust litigation and First Amendment issues. Robert Woolston, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Patent Group, focuses on domestic and international mechanical engineering patent prosecution, trademark prosecution, domain name transactions and intellectual property counseling.
Bellevue office: Michael Martin, who was promoted to partner in the firm's Technology Business Group, focuses on computer, multimedia and Internet law, including technology licensing, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, and emerging companies and private placements.
5/22. Kathryn Brown joined the Washington DC office of the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering as a partner in the firm's Communications and Electronic Commerce group. She is a former Chief of Staff and Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau at the FCC. See, WCP release. In March, Jonathan Neuchterlein joined the Washington DC office of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering as a partner in the firm's Communications and Electronic Commerce group. He is a former Deputy General Counsel of the FCC and Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General. See, WCP release.
5/22. President Bush nominated Lavenski Smith to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. See, release.
Bell 271 Proceedings
5/22. BellSouth filed with the Mississippi Public Service Commission a notice of its intent to file with the FCC a petition for permission to provide long distance service. See, BellSouth release.
Powell Addresses Forrester Forum
5/21. FCC Chairman Michael Powell spoke and answered questions at a Forrester Research Telecom Forum in Washington DC. He addressed the status of local competition, the success of the Telecom Act of 1996, Alcatel's possible acquisition of Lucent, legislation pending in Congress regarding broadband deployment, enforcement of telecom laws, and other issues. See, TLJ story.
The Rational Choice Chairman
5/21. FCC Chairman Michael Powell made several statements at the Forrester Forum about the conduct of telecom and Internet companies, and regulation of those companies, that are consistent with a "Chicago School", or rational choice, view of economics and regulation. See, TLJ story.
FCC Reports Jump in CLEC Market Share
5/21. The FCC reported that CLECs' share of all local telephone lines in the U.S. grew 93% in 2000. The FCC stated that "CLECs reported about 16.4 million (or 8.5%) of the approximately 194 million nationwide local telephone lines in service to end-user customers at the end of the year 2000, compared to 8.3 million (or 4.4% of nationwide lines) at the end of 1999. CLEC market share grew 93% over the one-year period of January to December 2000." The FCC also found that "About 60% of CLEC local telephone lines served medium and large business, institutional, and government customers. By contrast, almost 20% of incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) lines served medium and large business customers. CLECs served 4.6% of the residential and small business customers at the end of the year 2000, compared to 2.3% for the year ago period." See, FCC release.
The ILECs seized upon the report to promote their efforts to obtain regulatory permissions to provide long distance service. (Section 271 of the Telecom Act provides that the incumbent carriers cannot provide long distance service in a state until it has opened its networks to competition in that state.) "The market is open. It is time to let the Bells compete in long-distance," said Bill McCloskey, Director Media Relations for BellSouth. "The results of the FCC's study confirms what millions of Americans already know: our local markets are fully open and that competitors are successfully winning customers and increasing their market share," said Priscilla Ardoin, an SVP of SBC Communications. See, SBC release. See also, Verizon release.
Supreme Court Rules in Securities Fraud Case
5/21. The Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion [PDF] in Wharf Holdings v. United International Holdings, a case construing Section 10b of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Wharf is a Hong Kong firm. United is Colorado based company. In 1991 Wharf prepared a bid to the Hong Kong government to become the exclusive cable TV operator. Wharf engaged United to help prepare its application, negotiate contracts, design the system, and arrange financing. Wharf orally sold United an option to buy 10% of the stock of the new Hong Kong cable system. However, it never intended to honor the option. Hong Kong awarded Wharf the cable TV license. United attempted to exercise its option. Wharf refused. United filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DColo) alleging securities fraud under § 10b. The jury found in Wharf's favor, awarding $67 Million in compensatory damages, and $58.5 Million in punitive damages. The U.S. Court of Appeals (10thCir) upheld. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Wharf argued that the was no violation of § 10b because the contract was oral, and because this was a breach of contract case not actionable under federal securities law. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for a unanimous court, rejected both arguments.
Supreme Court Diminishes Electronic Privacy
5/21. The Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion [PDF] in Barnicki v. Vopper, holding that a radio host cannot be sued for playing an audio recording of a cellular telephone conversation, despite a federal statute which made illegal both the interception of the conversation, and its disclosure by the radio host. The majority reasoned that the case pitted statutes banning disclosure of illegally obtained electronic communications against the First Amendment freedom of speech claims of persons with illegally obtained recordings to disclose them if their content pertains to a public issue. See, TLJ story.
Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of COPA
5/21. The Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in Ashcroft v. ACLU, Docket No. 00-1293. See, May 21, 2000 Order List [PDF], at page 1. This case involves a constitutional challenge to the Child Online Protection Act, an act that bans sending to minors over the web material that is harmful to minors. The Act also allows web site operators to distribute pornography, but require those websites which distribute material that is harmful to children to verify adult status through the use of credit cards, adult access codes, adult PIN numbers, or other technologies. The U.S. District Court and U.S. Court of Appeals (3rdCir) both held that the statute violates the First Amendment. See also, ACLU release.
Supreme Court Denies Cert in Ravens Copyright Case
5/21. The Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari in Baltimore Ravens v. Bouchat, a copyright infringement case, Docket No. 00-1494. See, May 21, 2000 Order List [PDF], at page 2.
Cyber Crime Sentencing
5/21. The U.S. District Court (NDCal) sentenced Max Butler (aka Max Vision) to 18 months in prison for the felony charge of unauthorized access into protected computers recklessly causing damage. See, release.
SEC Web Survey
5/21. The SEC announced that it has received an overwhelming response to its web based survey concerning investor use of electronic media in making investment decisions. It announced the survey in a May 3, 2001, notice. At that time, it requested responses by July 1. However, as of May 21, the SEC had received over 3,000 responses. Hence, it issued a second notice shortening the response period to terminate on May 25.
Bush Nominates Prost for Fed Circuit
5/21. President Bush nominated Sharon Prost to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit, replacing Jay Plager, who retired. See, release. Prost is a longtime aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the jurisdiction of which includes intellectual property issues. The Federal Circuit, which is based in Washington DC, has appellate jurisdiction based on subject matter, rather than territory. It hears patent, trademark, customs, and other appeals, and hence, decides many cases of importance to high tech industries.
BSA Software Piracy Report
5/21. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) released a report [PDF] titled "Sixth Annual BSA Global Software Privacy Report." The report, which was conducted for the BSA by the International Planning and Research Corp. (IPR), estimated that piracy losses total $11.75 Billion worldwide in 2000.
Zoeller Talks Trade and FSC
5/21. USTR Robert Zoellick held a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, in which he addressed trade disputes, including the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) dispute.
Teligent Files Chapter 11 Petition
5/21. Teligent filed a Chapter 11 petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court (SDNY). Teligent is based in Vienna, Virginia. It provides business customers local, long distance, high-speed data and dedicated Internet services. See, release.
Weshba v. Apple
5/21. The Court of Appeal of California (6thAppDist) issued an opinion [PDF] in Weshba v. Apple, a state class action against Apple regarding its policy for technical support over the telephone.
5/21. The USPTO named Douglas Bourgeois its new Chief Information Officer. Before joining the federal service and USPTO, Bourgeois was the Managing Director of Customer Service Technology at Federal Express. He has also worked as an engineer and program manager of aerodynamic testing at Allied Signal Aerospace Company. See, release.

Go to News Briefs from May 16-20, 2001.