Policy Highlights from Communications of the ACM – April 2010 (Vol. 53, No. 4)

Below is a list of items with policy relevance from the April issue of Communications of the ACM. As always, much of the material in CACM is premium content, and free content one month may slip behind a pay wall the next. You need to be a member of ACM or a subscriber to CACM to access premium content online.

Emerging Markets
Development 2.0: The IT-enabled Transformation of International Development by Richard Heeks
Column describes how information technology has allowed for changes in the structure of international development.

Viewpoint
When Network Neutrality Met Privacy by Paul Ohm
The author argues that federal privacy law has required a form of network neutrality for some time.

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of April 19

April 21

Hearing:

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on cybercrime and identity theft. This was previously scheduled for April 8.
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building

The Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the last mile portions of the national broadband plan.
10 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Building

Markup:

The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee will markup a reauthorization bill for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bulding

April 22

Hearing:

The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on the national broadband plan and health care technology.
2 p.m., 562 Dirksen Building

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of April 12

April 14

Hearing:

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the national broadband plan (previously scheduled for March 23).
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

April 15

Hearing:

The Communications, Technology and the Internet subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the national broadband plan.
10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building

Government Agencies Release Open Government Plans

On Wednesday several federal agencies released open government plans, which is a requirement of the Open Government Directive issued late last year by the Obama Administration. The affected agencies can be found at the Open Government Dashboard, or at the agency’s Open Government page (http://[agency URL].gov/open). They include the major physical science funding agencies: the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy (through its Office of Science), and the National Science Foundation. That said, all affected agencies will be dealing with new uses of information technology as they implement their plans. The plans will be evaluated by the Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, the Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, and others in the White House. Their evaluations will be placed on the Dashboard by May 1.
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Court Ruling Will Stall FCC’s Broadband Plan

Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled in a case involving the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts to sanction Comcast for violating the FCC’s net neutrality rules. The court decided in favor of Comcast. While the ruling did not speak to the FCC’s recently announced national broadband plan, it did rule that the Commission lacked the authority to regulate Internet providers. The Commission had argued that Comcast violated the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which were set up in 2005. Comcast argued that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce those rules. Internet service is considered an information service in terms of regulation, which gives the FCC less regulatory authority compared to its ability to regulate telecommunications services.

This decision suggests that some kind of change (or appeal of the case) will need to take place in order for the Commission to proceed with its plans to revamp the provision of broadband services in the United States. There is still resistance to this kind of move, even though the quality of broadband services in the United States does not compare favorably to service in other countries around the world. It may come down to a policy fight over whether or not – as the broadband plan envisions – broadband service is not so much a consumer good as a needed service like other public utilities.

Court Ruling Will Stall FCC's Broadband Plan

Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled in a case involving the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts to sanction Comcast for violating the FCC’s net neutrality rules. The court decided in favor of Comcast. While the ruling did not speak to the FCC’s recently announced national broadband plan, it did rule that the Commission lacked the authority to regulate Internet providers. The Commission had argued that Comcast violated the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which were set up in 2005. Comcast argued that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce those rules. Internet service is considered an information service in terms of regulation, which gives the FCC less regulatory authority compared to its ability to regulate telecommunications services.

This decision suggests that some kind of change (or appeal of the case) will need to take place in order for the Commission to proceed with its plans to revamp the provision of broadband services in the United States. There is still resistance to this kind of move, even though the quality of broadband services in the United States does not compare favorably to service in other countries around the world. It may come down to a policy fight over whether or not – as the broadband plan envisions – broadband service is not so much a consumer good as a needed service like other public utilities.

ACM Washington Update, Vol. 14.2 (April 6, 2010)

CONTENTS

[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] 2009 ACM Turing Award Goes to Charles Thacker
[3] USACM and CRA Express Concerns with Senate Cybersecurity Bill
[4] Science Funding Does Well in FY2011 Budget Request
[5] NSF Revamps Computing Education Programs
[6] State Education Standards Proposal Holds Promise for Computer Science
[7] Federal Communications Commission Releases National Broadband Plan
[8] Notable Departures at the National Science Foundation
[9] Google Books Settlement Still Not Reached
[10] About USACM
Continue reading “ACM Washington Update, Vol. 14.2 (April 6, 2010)”