’08 Tech Policy Outlook: Identity Theft and Data Security

Our next post in this series on Technology Policy in 2008 focuses on two connected issues – Identity Theft and Data Security. Data breaches continue, as a recent theft of a hard drive at Georgetown University demonstrates. According to PrivacyRights.org, since January 2005 there have been over 218 million records exposed. To date a corresponding increase in identity theft has not happened. How long data hosts will continue to dodge this bullet is unclear.

Identity theft and data security are important issues for any large database, or any document that relies on large databases. As the Department of Homeland Security attempts to roll out REAL ID, they will claim such a gold standard identity document will reduce identity theft. As indicated in our comments on REAL ID, and the post we did on this subject two weeks ago, we disagree. REAL ID, besides lacking sufficient security, stands to shift identity theft from credit related information to drivers license/identification card information. The benefits of having a compromised ‘reliable’ identity document are significant.
Continue reading “’08 Tech Policy Outlook: Identity Theft and Data Security”

'08 Tech Policy Outlook: Identity Theft and Data Security

Our next post in this series on Technology Policy in 2008 focuses on two connected issues – Identity Theft and Data Security. Data breaches continue, as a recent theft of a hard drive at Georgetown University demonstrates. According to PrivacyRights.org, since January 2005 there have been over 218 million records exposed. To date a corresponding increase in identity theft has not happened. How long data hosts will continue to dodge this bullet is unclear.

Identity theft and data security are important issues for any large database, or any document that relies on large databases. As the Department of Homeland Security attempts to roll out REAL ID, they will claim such a gold standard identity document will reduce identity theft. As indicated in our comments on REAL ID, and the post we did on this subject two weeks ago, we disagree. REAL ID, besides lacking sufficient security, stands to shift identity theft from credit related information to drivers license/identification card information. The benefits of having a compromised ‘reliable’ identity document are significant.
Continue reading “'08 Tech Policy Outlook: Identity Theft and Data Security”

Fallout from the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget

Peter Harsha at the Computing Research Association has a good analysis of the impact that Congress’ flat funding of the physical science agencies will have this year. His analysis (excerpted below) includes the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. We thought that we add the impacts to the National Institute for Standards and Technology (the third of the three agencies that are part of the American Competitiveness Initiative).
Continue reading “Fallout from the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget”

’08 Tech Policy Outlook: The “Innovation Agenda”

Continuing our weekly posts reviewing key technology policy issues facing Congress, this week we tackle the so-called “innovation agenda.” This agenda has been defined by a loose collection of business, academic groups and professional/scientific societies (both ACM and CRA work on these issues) interested in improving the innovation ecosystem. The agenda is organized around four policy areas:

  • funding for basic research in the physical sciences
  • funding and expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs
  • some form of immigration reform for highly-skilled workers (H1Bs or visas for non-resident students when they graduate with technical degrees), and
  • extending the R&D tax credit.

(Note that not all the groups support all issues of the agenda. For example, neither ACM nor USACM has a position on immigration reform or R&D tax credits, so this post is only going to focus on the first two areas.)
Continue reading “’08 Tech Policy Outlook: The “Innovation Agenda””

'08 Tech Policy Outlook: The "Innovation Agenda"

Continuing our weekly posts reviewing key technology policy issues facing Congress, this week we tackle the so-called “innovation agenda.” This agenda has been defined by a loose collection of business, academic groups and professional/scientific societies (both ACM and CRA work on these issues) interested in improving the innovation ecosystem. The agenda is organized around four policy areas:

  • funding for basic research in the physical sciences
  • funding and expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs
  • some form of immigration reform for highly-skilled workers (H1Bs or visas for non-resident students when they graduate with technical degrees), and
  • extending the R&D tax credit.

(Note that not all the groups support all issues of the agenda. For example, neither ACM nor USACM has a position on immigration reform or R&D tax credits, so this post is only going to focus on the first two areas.)
Continue reading “'08 Tech Policy Outlook: The "Innovation Agenda"”

MPAA’s Data Oops: How Will Congress React?

This morning the Associated Press reported that a high-profile study the Motion Picture Association of America issued in 2005 is significantly flawed. Specifically, the study said that 44 percent of the industry’s domestic losses came from students’ illegal downloading at universities. Today MPAA says that due to “human error” that figure is more like 15 percent. Some are even arguing that it is more like three percent because of further flaws with the study.

That’s quite a difference and calls into question the credibility of the entire report. The report also found that the studios lost $6.1 billion to piracy in 2005. Is that figure correct? Unfortunately, we aren’t quite sure because the authors never released the full study including the methodology.

One might point out that quibbling over the numbers isn’t a big deal because the figure didn’t go from 44 percent to zero. Setting aside whether the new data are accurate, errors like this are a big deal because they misinform the critical policy debates that often surround studies like this. In fact, this report helped drive recent Congressional proposals to either require universities to install technology filters or strong-arm them to do so.
Continue reading “MPAA’s Data Oops: How Will Congress React?”

MPAA's Data Oops: How Will Congress React?

This morning the Associated Press reported that a high-profile study the Motion Picture Association of America issued in 2005 is significantly flawed. Specifically, the study said that 44 percent of the industry’s domestic losses came from students’ illegal downloading at universities. Today MPAA says that due to “human error” that figure is more like 15 percent. Some are even arguing that it is more like three percent because of further flaws with the study.

That’s quite a difference and calls into question the credibility of the entire report. The report also found that the studios lost $6.1 billion to piracy in 2005. Is that figure correct? Unfortunately, we aren’t quite sure because the authors never released the full study including the methodology.

One might point out that quibbling over the numbers isn’t a big deal because the figure didn’t go from 44 percent to zero. Setting aside whether the new data are accurate, errors like this are a big deal because they misinform the critical policy debates that often surround studies like this. In fact, this report helped drive recent Congressional proposals to either require universities to install technology filters or strong-arm them to do so.
Continue reading “MPAA's Data Oops: How Will Congress React?”

’08 Tech Policy Outlook: REAL ID

The release last Friday of the final rule for REAL ID did not mark the end of the road for this issue, but the end of the beginning. In this second of our series of posts taking a high-level look at various technology policy issues, we focus on REAL ID, and how it stands a good chance of being involved in other aspects of technology policy in the coming months. There will probably be legislative efforts to either increase funding for the program or to repeal it outright, and we will cover those bills as they happen. Read our earlier posts to understand the details of the REAL ID final rules, and the implications of those rules.

What is not in those rules – at least explicitly – is how the Department of Homeland Security will encourage the use of REAL ID without formally requiring it. Continue reading “’08 Tech Policy Outlook: REAL ID”

'08 Tech Policy Outlook: REAL ID

The release last Friday of the final rule for REAL ID did not mark the end of the road for this issue, but the end of the beginning. In this second of our series of posts taking a high-level look at various technology policy issues, we focus on REAL ID, and how it stands a good chance of being involved in other aspects of technology policy in the coming months. There will probably be legislative efforts to either increase funding for the program or to repeal it outright, and we will cover those bills as they happen. Read our earlier posts to understand the details of the REAL ID final rules, and the implications of those rules.

What is not in those rules – at least explicitly – is how the Department of Homeland Security will encourage the use of REAL ID without formally requiring it. Continue reading “'08 Tech Policy Outlook: REAL ID”

ACM Groups Release Statement on Web Accessibility

Today, several ACM groups, including USACM, released a statement on measures that should be taken to increase web accessibility. You can read the press release and statement online.

The statement is a joint statement of USACM; the ACM Special Interest Groups on Accessibility (SIGACCESS), Hypertext, Hypermedia and the Web (SIGWEB), and Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI); and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

The online statement also has links to resources on web accessibility. Text of the statement follows:
Continue reading “ACM Groups Release Statement on Web Accessibility”