TLJ News from May 26-31, 2012

Representatives Address Hurricanes, Broadcasting, and Radio Tuners in Mobile Phones

5/31. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in a release that "Hurricane season begins June 1 and extends through November 30." Members of the House of Representatives used the occasion to discuss over the air broadcasting.

Rep. David Scott (D-GA), stated in the House that "A broadcaster's commitment to public service is never more apparent than during a time of crisis. During an emergency, no other service can match the ability of broadcasters to deliver the comprehensive, up-to-date warnings and information affected by citizens." He added that "we have got to make sure that local stations of television and radio have the necessary tools to continue to communicate with people and to communicate with each other in these times of crisis." See, Congressional Record, May 31, 2012, at Page H3271.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) stated in the House that "When Katrina, Rita, Humberto, Gustav, and Ike struck with all their fury, people were left in the dark with no Internet or cell service, but local TV and radio reporters were still on the air telling folks what they needed to know." See, Congressional Record, May 31, 2012, at Page H3278.

Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) gave similar speeches in which they praised broadcasters. (All at Page 3278.)

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) added praise for wireless service providers. He stated that "Broadcasters and wireless providers work to ensure communication systems are up and running to provide vital information during an emergency". (At Page 3279.)

Radio Tuners. Some members went a step further and advocated the inclusion of radio tuners in phones. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), who spoke in the House on May 31, both praised broadcasters, and radio tuner policy.

She stated in the House that "I have constantly supported efforts for both the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission to explore the potential benefits of including radio tuners in mobile telephones. Since technology would ensure that folks have an outlet to receive critical information in times of need, I encourage this Congress to act swiftly to consider any and all opportunities that would facilitate communication during emergencies." (At Page H3281.)

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) did not speak in the House, but submitted a prepared statement, which was published in the Congressional Record on June 1. He wrote that "Increasingly, the American people have access to mobile phones. By equipping these devices to receive FM radio signals, millions of Americans could depend on their mobile phones to provide critical information in advance of a weather emergency." See, Congressional Record, June 1, 2012, at Page E954.

He continued that "As a former official with the Department of Homeland Security, I know first-hand how cell phone networks can become overloaded and inoperable during an emergency. By adopting this technology, broadcasters can provide timely information to mobile phones -- enabling the American people to take shelter in advance of a weather emergency."

Rep. Carson wrote, "I call upon my colleagues in Congress, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission and the mobile phone industry to work together to expand the reach of local broadcasters in providing critical information during a weather emergency."

Phones with radio tuner have long been available. However, there is no mandate that phones include radio tuners.

June 6 Hearing. The House Commerce Committee's (HCC) Subcommittee on Communications and Technology (SCT) will hold a hearing titled "The Future of Audio" on Wednesday, June 6. The hearing will cover many issues. One will be radio tuners in phones.

The HCC's hearing memorandum [4 pages in PDF] states that "A number of broadcasters seek a mandate requiring consumer electronics manufacturers and wireless providers to include an FM receiver in cell phones. They argue that requiring an FM chip in cell phones is necessary to preserve free, over-the-air radio. They also argue that the mandate is justified because over-the-air radio provides critical information in times of emergencies.

This memorandum adds that "Manufacturers and wireless providers oppose the mandate on the grounds that it will increase costs and that requiring an FM chip in wireless devices would duplicate the emergency alert program the wireless industry is deploying as a result of the WARN Act."

There is also opposition with the House and the HCC/SCT. See for example, story titled "Issa and Eshoo Oppose Radio Tuners Mandate" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,230 May 2, 2011.

The HCC memorandum also states that proponents "argue that features of phones should be determined by consumer demand and say that more than 40 wireless device models already have an FM chip."

See, list of such phones in the web site of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

The hearing witnesses will be Ben Allison (on behalf of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), David Israelite (National Music Publishers' Association), Cary Sherman (Recording Industry Association of America), Jeff Smulyan (Emmis Communications), Steven Newberry (Commonwealth Broadcasting Corp.), Tim Westergren (Pandora), Christopher McCabe (CTIA), and Gary Shapiro (Consumer Electronics Association).

Microsoft's Next Brower Will Have Do Not Track on by Default

5/31. Microsoft announced that its forthcoming operating system and browser, Windows 8, will incorporate do not track by default.

Microsoft's Chief Privacy Officer, Brendan Lynch, wrote in a short piece titled "Advancing Consumer Trust and Privacy: Internet Explorer in Windows 8" that "Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 will have ``Do Not Trackīī (DNT) on by default", and that this "will be the first browser to have DNT on by default."

Windows 8, the next series of versions of Microsoft's operating system, is at the "Release Preview" stage. Microsoft released to the public its "Windows 8 Release Preview" on May 31, 2012. Although, leaked copies had been available online several days before.

However, enabling web users to avoid tracking of the web sites that they visit will also require implementation by the operators of those web sites. Lynch wrote that "Sending a DNT signal from a browser is only part of the process. Obviously, for DNT to be effective, it is also important that websites have a common understanding of what the consumer expects when their browser sends the DNT signal."

He continued that "At the moment there is not yet an agreed definition of how to respond to a DNT signal, and we know that a uniform, industry-wide response will be the best way to provide a consistent consumer experience across the Web. We also know from experiences -- such as the P3P standard recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) -- that initiatives to advance privacy are much less effective if other industry leaders don't join in adopting the approach."

Lynch also stated that Microsoft is committed to using its "positions on the relevant industry, government and standards bodies to push for a clear action for advertising networks to respect a browser DNT signal and opt users out of behavioral advertising."

Also, "Microsoft Advertising intends to treat the do-not-track browser signal as an opt-out of behavioral advertising under the Digital Advertising Allianceís self-regulatory program. Microsoft does not yet respond to the DNT signal, but we are actively working with other advertising industry leaders on what an implementation plan for DNT might look like, with a goal of announcing more details about our plans in the coming months."

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5/31. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced HRes 671, a resolution pertaining to the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

5/31. The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies released a paper [7 pages in PDF] titled "Approximating the Distribution of Broadband Usage from Publicly-Available Data". The author is the Phoenix Center's George Ford.

Industry Botnet Group Created

5/30. Federal departments and offices touted  the creation of a group dedicated to voluntary cooperation between government and private sector trade associations titled the "Industry Botnet Group" or IBG.

Also on May 30, the IBG released a modest set of principles titled "Industry Botnet Group Principles for Voluntary Efforts to Reduce the Impact of Botnets in Cyberspace".

This process has imposed no industry regulation, or proposal for regulation. The principles impose little burden on the trade groups or their member companies. Government sponsorship of this process provides competitors legitimacy for cooperating, coordinating and sharing information.

The government entities involved are the Department of Commerce (DOC), and especially its National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Executive Office of the President's (EOP) Cybersecurity Office. See, DOC release.

The industry members include the Business Software Association (BSA), Tech America, SIIA, National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), US Telecom, Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), and others.

Botnet is a slang term of derived from the words robot network. It is used to describe a collection of software robots that reside on a collection of compromised computers, almost always without the authority or knowledge of the owners or operators, that are controlled remotely for various nefarious purposes. The compromised computers are often referred to as zombies.

The purposes for forming botnets include sending spam, running denial of service attacks, committing click fraud, and infecting computers with spyware. Botnet based spam can be used for less harmful purposes, such as marketing, or for more harmful purposes, such as pump and dump securities fraud, theft of personal and financial information to commit further crimes, and various consumer fraud schemes. Also, Botnet operators sometimes lease spamming capacity to others.

The DOC stated in its release that "The IBG was formed in response to a September 2011 request for information issued from Commerce and DHS to learn more about existing efforts and new areas to explore combating botnets." See, story titled "NIST, NTIA and DHS Propose Botnet Mitigation Regime for Internet Access Service Providers" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,303, September 22, 2011.

The IBG's just announced principles are limited. There are proposals for information sharing: "participants should share information about botnet incidents and other malicious activities among public, private, and non-profit stakeholders" and "participants should share lessons learned, particularly their view of the effectiveness of various tactics, technologies, sound practices and other tried measures to thwart the effectiveness of botnets across the lifecycle".

The IBG's principles also provide that "Participants should make available access to resources to help educate customers". However, there are no requirements regarding monitoring of customers by ISPs, or terminating service to any consumers.

Robert Holleyman, head of the BSA, stated in a release that "This is an important achievement because it underscores how the private sector can address common threats without regulatory intervention from government".

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) announced on March 22, 2012, that it "adopted recommendations for voluntary action by Internet service providers (ISPs) to combat three major cyber security threats, including botnets, attacks on the Domain Name System (DNS), and Internet route hijacking". See, story titled "FCC CSRIC Makes Recommendations Regarding ISP Cyber Security" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,355, March 24, 2012.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated in a speech on May 30, 2012, that "addressing cyber threats requires the commercial communications ecosystem to engage in a way thatís different than other threats. Private networks are of course a major part of Internet communications." Also, "addressing cyber threats requires interagency collaboration. Different agencies have different areas of expertise and responsibilities relevant to tackling Cybersecurity."

But, said Genachowski, "we need to do it in a way that preserves the ingredients that have fueled and will fuel the Internetís growth and success. That means solutions that preserve Internet freedom and the open architecture of the Internet, which have been essential to the Internetís success as an engine of innovation and economic growth.

See also, story titled "DOJ Prosecutes Botnet Seller" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,818, August 27, 2008, and story titled "Microsoft Obtains Ex Parte TRO in Waledac Botnet Case" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,053, March 2, 2010.

USPTO Proposes Rules for Micro Entity 75% Discount on Fees

5/30. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) that announces, describes, recites, and sets the comment deadline for, it proposed rules for implementing the micro entity provision of the Leahy Smith America Invents Act.

David KapposDavid Kappos (at right), head of the USPTO, stated in a release that "The new micro entity provision in the America Invents Acts makes our patent system more accessible for smaller innovators by entitling them to a 75% discount on patent fees".

This release adds the the proposed rules establish procedure "for an applicant to claim micro entity status and to pay patents fees as a micro entity. The USPTO likewise is proposing changes to the rules of practice to set procedures for an applicant to notify the Office of the loss of micro entity status and to correct payments of patent fees erroneously paid in the micro entity amount."

The "Leahy-Smith America Invents Act", or AIA, was HR 1249 [LOC | WW]. President Obama signed it into law on September 16, 2011. It is now Public Law No. 112-29.

Section 10 of the AIA pertains to "Fee Setting Authority". It provides that "The Director may set or adjust by rule any fee established, authorized, or charged under title 35", but that such fees "shall be reduced by 75 percent with respect to the application of such fees to any micro entity".

Section 10 then provides that "micro entity" means "an applicant who makes a certification that the applicant ... (1) qualifies as a small entity, as defined in regulations issued by the Director ... (2) has not been named as an inventor on more than 4 previously filed patent applications ... (3) did not, in the calendar year preceding the calendar year ... have a gross income ... exceeding 3 times the median household income ...(4) has not assigned, granted, or conveyed, and is not under an obligation by contract or law to assign, grant, or convey, a license or other ownership interest in the application concerned ..."

The deadline to submit comments is July 30, 2012. See, FR, Vol. 77, No. 104, Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Pages 31806-31814.

Obama Signs Bill Extending Authority of Export Import Bank

5/30. President Obama signed into law HR 2072 [LOC | WW], the "Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012". See, White House news office release and release. It is now Public Law No. 112-122.

The authority of the Export Import Bank of the US, a federal agency that provides export financing, would have expired on May 31, 2012, if this bill had not been enacted. See also, Export Import Bank release.

The Senate passed the bill on May 15, 2012, by a vote of 78-20. See, Roll Call No. 96.

The House passed the bill on May 9, 2012, by a vote of 330-93. See, Roll Call No. 224. Representatives from both parties praised the merits of the bill.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) urged temporary support. He stated in the House that "I am no fan of government subsidies. Export subsidies distort the free market and global trade. And in a perfect world, the Ex-Im Bank, along with its counterparts in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, would not exist. But like any other barrier to free trade, the best way to level the playing field and open up markets is through negotiation. Our country has long had a policy to negotiate an end to barriers which prevent the free flow of goods and services. And now, Mr. Speaker, for the first time, with this bill, it will be U.S. policy to initiate and pursue negotiations to end government export subsidies. This is not just a worthwhile goal; it is actually an achievable one. Now, I know some suggest that we shouldn't negotiate and that we should just shutter the Export-Import Bank right now, that we shouldn't pass the bill, but I would tell my colleagues that I believe that amounts to unilateral disarmament."

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) spoke in opposition. He stated that "this program dragoons American taxpayers into subsidizing loans to foreign companies, making it cheaper for them to buy products from politically favored companies, which in turn use those products to compete against less-favored American companies. Past beneficiaries include such upstanding enterprises as Solyndra and Enron. Since 2007, almost half of its money goes to support that plucky little start-up called Boeing. Air India got $5 billion to purchase Boeing aircraft, allowing them to undercut American carriers like Delta with their own tax money."

Robert Atkinson, head of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), has spoken and written in support of this bill. For example, he released a paper [10 pages in PDF] in April titled "The Export-Import Bank Works For America: Responses to 18 Arguments for Cutting Ex-Imís Authorization". He wrote that "U.S. enterprises are up against formidable competitors, many of them receiving significant support from their governments".

He continued that "One key factor in this competitive race is export financing. Foreign competitors enjoy substantial and growing support from their countriesí export credit agencies (ECAs). Indeed, many of the United States' strongest international trade competitors invest significantly more in export credit assistance as a share of both GDP and exports than the United States does."

Atkinson argued that the US "has only three choices: 1) Unilateral disarmament; 2) Expansion on Ex-Im financing to try to level the playing field; or 3) Globally binding treaties limiting export financing. The first option would result in an even greater loss of U.S. traded sector (and manufacturing) capacity than has already been the case. The third might be the ideal policy, but it won't happen anytime soon and the odds of it happening if the United States unilaterally disarms first are close to zero. The second is the only viable policy choice now." (Parentheses in original.)

House Passes FCC Consolidated Reporting Act

5/30. The House passed HR 3310 [LOC | WW], the "Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2012", by voice vote.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) stated in the House that "This bill consolidates various technology-specific competition reports the Federal Communications Commission is required to make to Congress into a new, single communications marketplace report that will be submitted to Congress every 2 years."

It also eliminates the statutory requirements that the FCC issue certain obsolete reports, such as regarding telegraphs.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) stated in the House that this bill is "a commonsense piece of legislation, much like Mr. Walden's process reform bill for the FCC that was passed in this House in March on a bipartisan vote."

That bill is HR 3309 [LOC | WW], the "Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012". The House passed it on March 30. See, story titled "House Passes FCC Process Reform Act" and related stories in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,361, March 30, 2012.

Several other Representatives spoke in support of HR 3310. Only Del. Donna Christiansen (D-VI) spoke in opposition. She stated in the House that "FCC's statutory authority on data collection could be affected and certain pertinent reporting requirements could be eliminated".

The bill states that "Nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed to expand or contract the authority of the Federal Communications Commission."

People and Appointments

5/30. Jon Rymer was named interim Inspector General (IG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He is already the IG of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and will serve in both capacities. Noelle Maloney, who has been the SEC's interim IG since January, will resume her position as Deputy IG. See, SEC release. Also, Erica Williams was named the SEC's Deputy Chief of Staff on May 17. See, SEC release.

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5/30. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a notice in the Federal Register, as required by the Privacy Act of 1974, regarding its collection, retention and sharing of personally identifiable information about people who visit the FCC headquarters or other FCC facilities. See, Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 104, Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Pages 31851-31854.

5/30. AT&T announced in a release that "it has reached a tentative agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on a one-year contract extension covering nearly 7,000 core wireline employees".

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5/29. Hewlett Packard (HP) announced in a release that its "has amicably resolved patent litigation" pending in the Brazilian State Court of S„o Paulo against Multilaser Industrial Ltda. regarding HP's integrated printhead inkjet cartridges. HP stated that "As part of the settlement, Multilaser acknowledges that HPís patents are valid and were infringed upon. Multilaser has agreed to stop selling the cartridges in question in Brazil and in other countries where HP has corresponding patent rights. Multilaser also will reimburse part of the litigation costs to HP."

Go to News from May 21-25, 2012.