Summary of Technology Related Provisions of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill
January 23, 2004. HR 2673, the omnibus appropriations bill, signed by President Bush on January 23, 2004, contains appropriations for many technology related departments, agencies and other units. It also contains several technology related substantive law provisions.
FCC and the National Television Ownership Cap. The bill appropriates to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for FY 2004 $273,958,000.
The bill also contains substantive language regarding the national TV ownership cap. It amends the Communications Act to provide a cap of 39 percent. Section 629 provides as follows:
"The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is amended as follows--
(1) in section 202(c)(1)(B) by striking `35 percent' and inserting `39 percent';
(2) in section 202(c) by adding the following new paragraphs at the end:
`(3) DIVESTITURE- A person or entity that exceeds the 39 percent national audience reach limitation for television stations in paragraph (1)(B) through grant, transfer, or assignment of an additional license for a commercial television broadcast station shall have not more than 2 years after exceeding such limitation to come into compliance with such limitation. This divestiture requirement shall not apply to persons or entities that exceed the 39 percent national audience reach limitation through population growth.
`(4) FORBEARANCE- Section 10 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 160) shall not apply to any person or entity that exceeds the 39 percent national audience reach limitation for television stations in paragraph (1)(B);'; and
(3) in section 202(h) by striking `biennially' and inserting `quadrennially' and by adding the following new flush sentence at the end:
`This subsection does not apply to any rules relating to the 39 percent national audience reach limitation in subsection (c)(1)(B).'."
RUS Broadband, Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loans and Grants. The bill contains appropriations for the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS), for among other things, loans for broadband deployment, distance learning and telemedicine loans and grants.
It provides the following: "For the principal amount of direct distance learning and telemedicine loans, $300,000,000; and for the principal amount of direct broadband telecommunication loans, $602,000,000."
It further provides: "For grants for telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas, as authorized by 7 U.S.C. 950aaa et seq., $39,000,000, to remain available until expended: Provided, That $14,000,000 shall be made available to convert analog to digital operation those noncommercial educational television broadcast stations that serve rural areas and are qualified for Community Service Grants by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting under section 396(k) of the Communications Act of 1934, including associated translators, repeaters, and studio-to-transmitter links."
It also provides: "In addition, $9,000,000, to remain available until expended, for a grant program to finance broadband transmission in rural areas eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program benefits authorized by 7 U.S.C. 950aaa."
Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The bill contains two sections that implement the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) [20 pages in PDF]. The CIPA requires that schools and libraries receiving federal subsidies for telecommunications, internet access or internal connections adopt an internet safety policy and employ technological protections that block or filter certain visual depictions deemed obscene, pormographic, or harmful to minors.
Section 516 of the bill requires that "None of the funds made available by this Act to carry out the Library Services and Technology Act may be made available to any library covered by paragraph (1) of section 224(f) of such Act (20 U.S.C. 9134(f)), as amended by the Children's Internet Protections Act, unless such library has made the certifications required by paragraph (4) of such section."
Section 517 of the bill requires that "None of the funds made available by this Act to carry out part D of title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 may be made available to any elementary or secondary school covered by paragraph (1) of section 2441(a) of such Act (20 U.S.C. 6777(a)), as amended by the Children's Internet Protections Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, unless the local educational agency with responsibility for such covered school has made the certifications required by paragraph (2) of such section."
On June 23, 2003, the Supreme Court issued its opinion [56 pages in PDF] in US v. American Library Association, upholding the constitutionality of the CIPA. See, story titled "Supreme Court Upholds Children's Internet Protection Act" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 686, June 24, 2003. See also, story titled "NTIA Releases Report to Congress Re Internet Filtering Technology" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 721, August 19, 2003.
Prohibition on Federal Agency Monitoring of Certain Internet Use. Section 633(a) provides that "None of the funds made available in this or any other Act may be used by any Federal agency (1) to collect, review, or create any aggregate list, derived from any means, that includes the collection of any personally identifiable information relating to an individual's access to or use of any Federal Government Internet site of the agency; or (2) to enter into any agreement with a third party (including another Government agency) to collect, review, or obtain any aggregate list, derived from any means, that includes the collection of any personally identifiable information relating to an individual's access to or use of any nongovernmental Internet site." (Parentheses in original.)
However, the Section 633(b) includes several exceptions: "(1) any record of aggregate data that does not identify particular persons; (2) any voluntary submission of personally identifiable information; (3) any action taken for law enforcement, regulatory, or supervisory purposes, in accordance with applicable law; or (4) any action described in subsection (a)(1) that is a system security action taken by the operator of an Internet site and is necessarily incident to the rendition of the Internet site services or to the protection of the rights or property of the provider of the Internet site."
Department of Commerce. The bill appropriates $6,411,000 for the Office of Technology Policy. It appropriates $68,203,000 for the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which is still also know as the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA).
The bill appropriates $1,222,460,000 for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The bill also continues the practice of diverting USPTO user fees to subsidize other government programs.
The bill also provides that "no employee of the United States Patent and Trademark Office may accept payment or reimbursement from a non-Federal entity for travel, subsistence, or related expenses for the purpose of enabling an employee to attend and participate in a convention, conference, or meeting when the entity offering payment or reimbursement is a person or corporation subject to regulation by the Office, or represents a person or corporation subject to regulation by the Office, unless the person or corporation is an organization exempt from taxation pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986."
The bill also contains appropriations for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). It provides $14,604,000 for salaries and expenses. It provides $22,000,000 for public telecommunications facilities, planning and construction. Finally, it provides $15,000,000 for information infrastructure grants.
Other Entities. The bill appropriates $41,994,000 for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). It also provides that "negotiations shall be conducted within the World Trade Organization to recognize the right of members to distribute monies collected from antidumping and countervailing duties."
The bill appropriates $133,133,000 for the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division.
The bill appropriates $811,500,000 for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This is an increase of $66 Million over FY 2003.
The bill appropriates $186,041,000 for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is an increase of $9 Million over FY 2003.
The bill also addresses telemarketing. It provides that "$23,100,000 in offsetting collections derived from fees sufficient to implement and enforce the Telemarketing Sales Rule, promulgated under the Telephone Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (15 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.), shall be credited to this account, and be retained and used for necessary expenses in this appropriation".
It also provides that "not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall amend the Telemarketing Sales Rule to require telemarketers subject to the Telemarketing Sales Rule to obtain from the Federal Trade Commission the list of telephone numbers on the `do-not-callī registry once a month."
Electronic Government (E-Gov) Fund. The bill appropriates $3,000,000 "For necessary expenses in support of interagency projects that enable the Federal Government to expand its ability to conduct activities electronically, through the development and implementation of innovative uses of the Internet and other electronic methods".
See also, House Appropriations Committee's
summary of the bill.