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Top Stories from 2013

Reps. Latta and Green Introduce Bill to End FCC's Integration Ban
9/26. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) introduced HR 3196 [LOC | WW], an untitled bill that would end the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) integration ban for multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). The FCC created integration ban currently prohibit MVPDs from making available to consumers devices that contain both navigation of video content functions and security functions.

Bill Baer Addresses Antitrust Remedies
9/25. Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division, gave a speech [13 pages in PDF] in Washington DC titled "Remedies Matter: The Importance of Achieving Effective Antitrust Outcomes".

USTR Seeks Comments on Notorious Foreign Markets
9/20. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (OUSTR) published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) that requests comments to assist it in preparing a report on the internet and physical notorious markets that exist outside the US and that may be included in the OUSTR's 2013 Notorious Markets List.

House Passes Rare Earths Bill
9/18. The House passed HR 761 [LOC | WW], the "National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013", a bill that would have the effect of facilitating domestic mining and extraction of rare earth materials (REMs), which are used in information and communications technology (ICT) products. Republicans voted unanimously for the bill. Most Democrats voted against.

House Members Introduce Internet Tax Freedom Act Extension Bill
9/12. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and others introduced HR 3086 [LOC | WW], the "Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act". This is one of four nearly identical bills introduced in the 113th Congress that would extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), which is set to expire on November 1, 2014.

District Court Issues Final Judgment in Apple E-Books Antitrust Case
9/6. The U.S. District Court (SDNY) issued its final judgment and permanent injunction [17 pages in PDF] in U.S. v. Apple, the e-books antitrust case. It bars Apple from engaging in numerous activities related to conspiring to fix prices. It also provides for a court appointed "External Compliance Monitor", for "a period of two years".

9th Circuit Affirms in Somers v. Apple
9/3. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [26 pages in PDF] in Somers v. Apple, a putative class action alleging violation of federal and state antitrust law by Apple in connection with portable digital media players (PDMPs) such as the iPod, music download services such as the iTunes music store, and digital rights management (DRM). The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the U.S. District Court (NDCal), which denied class certification, and dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), FRCP.

FTC Administrative Complaint Asserts Authority to Regulate Data Security Practices
8/29. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has filed (but not released to the public) an administrative complaint against LabMD. The FTC issued only a news release that states that LabMD "failed to reasonably protect the security of consumers' personal data, including medical information". See also, the FTC's web page for this proceeding, FTC Docket No. 9357.

FISC Orders Verizon to Produce Call Data for Everyone Every Day
6/6. The Guardian, a newspaper and news publishing business based in the United Kingdom, published an article by Glenn Greenwald titled "NSA collecting phone records of millions daily, court order reveals". The Guardian also published a copy of a document [ PDF | HTML] titled "Secondary Order" issued by the U.S. federal government entity titled "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court", or "FISC".

Indictment Returned and Domains Seized in Liberty Reserve Digital Currency Matter
5/28. The U.S. District Court (SDNY) unsealed an indictment that charges Liberty Reserve S.A. and several individuals with conspiracy (18 U.S.C. 371) to commit money laundering (18 U.S.C. 1956) and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business (18 U.S.C. 1960 and 1962) in connection with the operation of a digital currency, a payment processor and money transfer system.

DC Circuit Overturns FCC's Tennis Channel Order
5/28. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued its opinion [51 pages in PDF] in Comcast v. FCC, granting the petition for review of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) July 2012 order, in which the FCC found that Comcast discriminated against the Tennis Channel (TC) in tier placement. All three members of the three judge panel wrote opinions. The line of reasoning in which all three judges joined was the absence of evidence in support of the TC's claim that Comcast discriminated against an unaffiliated vendor in violation of the statute and regulations.

Representatives Reintroduce Password Protection Act
5/21. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), and others introduced HR 2077 [LOC | WW | PDF], the "Password Protection Act of 2013", a bill that would amend 18 U.S.C. 1030 to bar employers, under certain circumstances, from compelling the disclosure by their employees or job applicants of passwords for their own computers, e-mail accounts and social media accounts.

Sen. Levin's Subcommittee Harasses Apple
5/21. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee's (SHSGAC) Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), held a hearing titled "Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code". Sen. Levin harangued and harassed Apple, and its CEO, Tim Cook. However, neither Sen. Levin, nor anyone else at this hearing alleged that Apple has violated any tax or other laws of the U.S. or any other nation.

EC to Investigate Huawei and ZTE
5/15. The European Commission's (EC) Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, announced in a release that the EC has decided "to open an ex officio anti-dumping and an anti-subsidy investigation concerning imports of mobile telecommunications networks and their essential elements from China".

Associated Press Alleges Unjustified FBI Seizure of Reporters' Phone Records
5/13. The Associated Press (AP) released a statement on May 13, 2013 that discloses that the Department of Justice (DOJ) "secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for the Associated Press". The AP wrote that the DOJ obtained records regarding "incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery".

Sen. Paul Introduces Tax Repatriation Bill
5/9. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S 911 [LOC | WW], the "Emergency Transportation Safety Fund Act", a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to incent repatriation of profits earned by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies, and use some of the tax revenues collected by such repatriation for the interstate highway system, roads and bridges, and other transportation emergency priorities.

Senate Passes Internet Sales Tax Bill
5/6. The Senate amended and passed S 743 [LOC | WW], a bill to authorize states to compel out of state retailers to collect sales taxes on internet and other remote sales, by a vote of 69-27. See, Roll Call No. 113. This bill, titled the "Marketplace Fairness Act", has not been passed by the House.

2nd Circuit Affirms in Aereo Copyright Cases
4/1. The U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCir) issued its divided opinion [62 pages in PDF] in WNET v. Aereo and ABC v. Aereo affirming the order of the U.S. District Court (SDNY) denying Aereo's motion for a preliminary injunction. The majority held that Aereo's service, which captures, stores, and almost immediately retransmits broadcasters' programming, without license, to its own customers, for a fee, via a multitude of antennas, is not a public performance with the meaning of the Copyright Act, and hence, does not infringe the exclusive rights of broadcasters.

Supreme Court Holds First Sale Doctrine Applies Regardless of Location
3/19. The Supreme Court issued its opinion [74 pages in PDF] in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, holding that the first sale doctrine of the Copyright Act applies to goods that are made abroad, legally acquired abroad, and imported into the US for resale. This is a serious setback for large book, movie, record and software companies, and a victory for eBay and other e-commerce companies.

Obama Picks IT Nemesis Tom Perez to Be Secretary of Labor
3/18. President Obama gave a speech in which he announced that he will nominate Tom Perez to be Secretary of Labor. Perez is currently Assistant Attorney General (AAG) in charge of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division (CRD).

Sen. Ayotte and Rep. Chabot Introduce Bills to Make the Internet Tax Freedom Act Permanent
2/4. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced S 31 [LOC | WW], the "Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2013", on January 22, 2013. This bill would make permanent the current partial ban on state internet access taxes and multiple and discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.

FTC Releases Report on Mobile Privacy Disclosures
2/1. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report [36 pages in PDF] titled "Mobile Privacy Disclosures: Building Trust Through Transparency". It enumerates numerous "suggestions" and "recommendations" for the businesses and organizations involved in mobile communications regarding their privacy related practices and disclosures.

WTO Authorizes Antigua and Barbuda to Infringe US IP Rights
1/28. The World Trade Organization (WTO) authorized the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda (AB) to retaliate against the US for violating WTO obligations by maintaining protectionist gambling laws that discriminate against internet gambling services provided in AB. The retaliatory measures approved by the WTO include violation of intellectual property rights of US rights holders with a total value of $21 Million per year.

4th Circuit Upholds Secrecy of Court Surveillance Orders
1/25. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4thCir) issued its opinion [22 pages in PDF] in US v. Appelbaum, regarding public access to court orders issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 2703(d) compelling service providers, such as Twitter, to provide the government with transactional information, or the contents of electronic communications.

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Cases Involving SLUSA and Law Firms
1/18. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Chadbourne & Parke v. Troice, Willis of Colorado v. Troice, and Proskauer Rose v. Troice, consolidated cases involving the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA) and state class actions against the law firms that represent persons and entities alleged to have defrauded investors.

Guns, Video Games, Apps, and Video Programming
1/16. President Obama and Vice President Biden gave a joint speech at which they advocated greater regulation of guns and gun transactions. Afterwards, the President signed two memoranda. Most of the legislative proposals and regulatory actions contained in these speeches and memoranda do not relate to information and communications technology (ICT). However, also at issue are actions that the federal government might take with respect to regulating video games, apps, movies, and the video programming of television broadcasters and other multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs).

Sen. Wyden Describes His Tech Policy Agenda
1/9. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) gave a speech in which he listed and discussed his proposals for legislative and agency action. He said the foreign IP infringing activity should be dealt with by trade policy rather than by bills such as the SOPA and PIPA. He called for legislation to regulate broadband data caps. He advocated a Congressional review of software patents. He urged expansion of the FCC's December 2010 order regulating broadband internet access service (BIAS) providers to regulate wireless providers the same as wireline. He advocated amending antitrust statutes to prohibit BIAS providers from discriminating against content providers. He advocated rewriting the ECPA to protect privacy.

DOJ and USPTO Issue Statement on Injunctive Relief for Infringement of SEPs Subject to FRAND Commitments
1/8. The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released a document [10 pages in PDF] titled "Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments". This policy statement argues that an exclusion order or injunction for a FRAND encumbered SEP may be inconsistent with the public interest. However, there are exceptions.

Commentary: Unemployment Rate, Participation Rate, and Tech Policy
1/4. This piece explains the unemployment rate and participation rate, and recites their recent trends. While far more attention is focused on the unemployment rate, this piece argues that the participation rate now warrants notice. It is in a steep decline. This piece also argues that this could impact technology related policy making. In particular, there is a large and growing number able bodied trained workers who no longer have jobs, and are not longer looking for jobs. They now longer count in calculating the unemployment rate, but they still vote. Politicians may seek their support by casting blame for their lack of employment on foreign competition. This may result in policies that undermine free trade, and the free flow of services, capital, data, and tech workers. This would harm tech companies and consumers both in and outside of the US.

FTC Concludes Its Investigation of Google
1/3. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed and simultaneously settled an administrative complaint against Google regarding its abuse of standards essential patents (SEPs) for which it was bound by FRAND commitments. Google admitted neither wrongdoing, nor relevant factual allegations. An accompanying order imposes some limitations on its ability to abuse these SEPs. Second, the FTC announced in a statement [4 pages in PDF] that it will take no action against Google with respect to search bias.