Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 31

Congress has returned from recess, so there are some hearings worth noting.
Update: House Administration markup of voting legislation scheduled for April 2

April 1
Hearing:
The Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on the future of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security.
2 p.m., 311 Cannon Building

The Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the “Holistic Approaches to Cybersecurity Enabling Network Centric Operations.”
3 p.m., 2212 Rayburn Building

April 2
Hearing:
The Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on international science and technology cooperation.
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

Markup:
The Committee on House Administration will markup pending legislation, including H.R. 5036, the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008.
11 a.m., 1310 Longworth Building

Rod Beckstrom tapped to run the new National Cyber Security Center

It appears that the Administration will take its first public step toward implementing the classified Cyber Initiative President Bush issued this January. According to the Washington Post, Rod Beckström, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has been chosen to run the new National Cyber Security Center. Beckström is most recognized for his involvement as co-founder and chairman of Twiki.net and co-author of The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.

In his new post, Beckström will be charged with coordinating the sharing of cyber attack information between agencies. He does not possess a great deal of cyber security experience but he does offer a fresh organizational perspective in his new position within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While the new National Cyber Security Center is housed within DHS, Beckström will be reporting directly to Secretary Michael Chertoff rather than Greg Garcia, assistant secretary for cyber security and telecommunications.

Call for Proposals: Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference

The call for panel and speaker proposals has been issued for the 2008 Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, which is on May 20-23 in New Haven, CT. More information can be found on the conference’s website. Below is the formal notice. Note the short deadline of March 21 for proposal submissions.

Continue reading “Call for Proposals: Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference”

’08 Tech Policy Outlook: Electronic Employment Verification Systems

Part of the immigration battles last summer was a proposal to expand what was then called the Basic Pilot program into a nationwide system of confirming a person’s employment eligibility online. For such an Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS) to work effectively on a nationwide basis, it would have to confirm employment documents of approximately 60 million people annually, done over the Internet. This confirmation would need to be nearly immediate for all but a small number, otherwise the backlog would slow down employers, and expose potential employees to discrimination for circumstances that may be no fault of their own. For those who were denied, the appeals process must be sufficiently speedy as to inconvenience the smallest number of people possible. As this appeals process would need to go through either the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), agencies not known for speedy resolution of appeals (if you get an appeal), the lack of confidence in a nation-wide EEVS is understandable.

Unfortunately, these concerns are unlikely to stop efforts to make such a system happen.
Continue reading “’08 Tech Policy Outlook: Electronic Employment Verification Systems”

'08 Tech Policy Outlook: Electronic Employment Verification Systems

Part of the immigration battles last summer was a proposal to expand what was then called the Basic Pilot program into a nationwide system of confirming a person’s employment eligibility online. For such an Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS) to work effectively on a nationwide basis, it would have to confirm employment documents of approximately 60 million people annually, done over the Internet. This confirmation would need to be nearly immediate for all but a small number, otherwise the backlog would slow down employers, and expose potential employees to discrimination for circumstances that may be no fault of their own. For those who were denied, the appeals process must be sufficiently speedy as to inconvenience the smallest number of people possible. As this appeals process would need to go through either the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), agencies not known for speedy resolution of appeals (if you get an appeal), the lack of confidence in a nation-wide EEVS is understandable.

Unfortunately, these concerns are unlikely to stop efforts to make such a system happen.
Continue reading “'08 Tech Policy Outlook: Electronic Employment Verification Systems”

Intellectual Property Bill Moves in Congress

Late last week there was movement on intellectual property legislation, HR 4279. The bill was introduced last December and was recently approved by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee to move to the full committee. The full text of the bill and other information is available through THOMAS.

The bill focuses on enforcement of intellectual property, with enhanced penalties for infringement of copyrights, counterfeiting (and trafficking in counterfeit goods); additional enforcement staff to help coordinate international enforcement efforts (including a new Division at the Justice Department for IP enforcement); and grants to local law enforcement agencies to improve their capacity to handle IP crime.

A major change made by the subcommittee was to remove a provision that would have allowed courts to break up a copyright-infringement lawsuit into parts when considering damages. This would allow for a large increase in potential damages and was considered by some as potentially chilling innovation. The provision may reappear when the full committee considers the bill.

There are many other IP related issues that could see legislative action this session. Most of them are disconnected with concerns over piracy, which makes this legislation different.

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 10

The Fiscal Year 2009 budget is the focus on many hearings this week, including some of those we highlight below.

March 11
Hearing:
The Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Innovation of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2009 budget for basic research in science and technology.
10 a.m., 253 Russell Building

The Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation of the House Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2009 budget for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
2 p.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

The Anti-Trust Task Force of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on net neutrality and free speech.
2 p.m. 2141 Rayburn Building
Continue reading “Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 10”

ACM Washington Update, Vol. 12.3 (March 5, 2008)

CONTENTS

[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] Final Report on Florida 13th Election Contest
[3] ACM to Cosponsor Tribute to Jim Gray
[4] USACM Comments on Newly Proposed E-voting Legislation
[5] FY 09 Proposed Budget Increases for Research and Cyber Security
[6] 08 Tech. Policy Outlook: Filtering Reality
[7] 08 Tech. Policy Outlook: Health Privacy and Health IT
[8] Feds Extend Comment Period on Proposed Voting Standards
[9] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available at
http://www.acm.org/usacm/update/]


Continue reading “ACM Washington Update, Vol. 12.3 (March 5, 2008)”

USACM Chair Interviewed about Electronic Voting

Last night on the Chicago Fox affiliate, USACM Chair Eugene Spafford was interviewed as part of a story on the State of Illinois’ progress – or lack thereof – in complying with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). You can watch the story online. Dr. Spafford appears near the end of the piece.

The Illinois Auditor General recently completed an investigation of the state’s progress in implementing HAVA requirements. Where developing and implementing a voter registration database is concerned, the state is far behind. The list fails to have a unique state identifier for each voter; a system to verify social security numbers; or a means to match names against incarcerated voters. For more details, watch the story, and read the full report.