Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 28

July 30
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing on S. 3212, the Bipartisan Electronic Voting Reform Act of 2008.
10 a.m., 301 Russell Building

July 31
The Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on federal government information technology planning.
9:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Building

The House Science and Technology Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program (NITRD).
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

The Complications of Deep Packet Inspection

Update July 27
The Washington Post ran an article on Friday describing a case of an internet service provider conducting deep packet inspection on customers in Kansas. Notice was affected through a change in the company’s privacy policy on its website. Subscribers were offered the opportunity to opt out of the test, but some lawmakers are of the opinion that is insufficient in these situations, that the intrusion on privacy is sufficient to require participants to opt in to the process.

You can read the letter to the internet service provider from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the ISP’s response letters, online.

Original Post
As computing power and data storage increase, the limits of what are possible with computer science change and new capacities emerge. Part of the new trends in online advertising appears to take advantage of one such change – the relative ease of deep packet inspection (DPI).

A brief description of packets and DPI (those more familiar with the topic can skip ahead). Internet traffic is typically broken down into packets – bursts of data that include routing information. So, if we were looking at an email message, for example, the message wouldn’t travel from sender to receiver as one piece, but as a number of packets, which were routed through the network by routers. Packets are already inspected by routers to determine where they should be sent. This is shallow packet inspection, and isn’t that far off from a post office or shipping service doing spot checks of pieces of mail to make sure they are headed to where they are supposed to go.
Continue reading “The Complications of Deep Packet Inspection”

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 21

Update July 23 – Additional Health IT hearing on July 23

July 22
The House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on business and education partnerships in STEM education.
2 p.m., 2175 Rayburn Building

July 23
The House Select Intelligence Committee will hold a closed roundtable discussion on cybersecurity.
10 a.m., H-405 Capitol Building

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will markup pending legislation on health information technology.
10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building

July 24
The Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on promoting health information technology.
10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Building

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 14

July 15
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on intellectual property rights and competitiveness.
10 a.m., 215 Dirksen Building

The Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on international science and technology cooperation and the role of universities and non-governmental organizations.
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing about online advertising and the proposed Google-Yahoo agreement.
10:30 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building
Continue reading “Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 14”

ACM Washington Update, Vol. 12.6 (July 7, 2008)


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] USACM Members Meet with Government Officials
[3] ACM Policy Director Addresses Computer Science Education Roundtable
[4] EAC Outlines Possible Next Steps for VVSG
[5] Congress Introduces Online Accessibility Bill
[6] Supplemental Appropriations Boost Science and Technology Funding
[7] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available at
Continue reading “ACM Washington Update, Vol. 12.6 (July 7, 2008)”

Supplemental Funding Bill Boosts Science Spending

Yesterday President Bush signed into law a bipartisan agreement providing supplemental funding for 2008. Most of the funding went toward operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Congress and the President agreed to include over $330 million to fund basic research at several Federal agencies. While the final figures are well below what the President originally proposed for 2008, this is still a win for science.

In May, I incorrectly predicted that this legislation was likely headed for a veto over budget politics. This is one of those cases where I’m glad to be wrong. Last year Congress flat funded several key physical science agencies in fiscal year 2008 (FY08) – namely the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy Office of Science. Recognizing that the previous agreement shorted science funding, Congress and the President agreed to boost some of the agencies:

  • $62.5 million for Department of Energy’s Office of Science
  • $62.5 million for NASA
  • $62.5 million for National Science Foundation
  • $150 million for National Institutes of Health

Funding for the National Science Foundation is split 70/30 between education and research programs at the Foundation with $40 million going toward the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which “seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers” and the balance presumably split among the research directorates.

Notably the National Institute of Standards and Technology did not receive any supplemental funding, which is disappointing.

Congress and the President did a lot of saber rattling over busting the budget and supporting the troops, but in the end they found a good old-fashioned compromise that at least patches some of the FY08 mess. What is heartening is that both parties thought science was enough of a priority to fund it among the many competing priorities clamoring for supplemental funding. Whether that holds in fiscal year 2009 funding fight is another matter entirely.