Policy Highlights from Communications of the ACM – July 2010 (Vol. 53, No. 7)

Below is a list of items with policy relevance from the July 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.

Sharing Computational Perspectives by David Lindley
A review of recent projects in other disciplines that benefit from computer science expertise, including Federal Communications Commission spectrum auctions.

Censored! by Samuel Greengard
A description of how, and for what reasons, some countries censor Internet access and activity. Includes a discussion of means to breach efforts at Internet control.

Viewpoints: Legally Speaking
Should the Google Book Settlement Be Approved? by Pamela Samuelson
Samuelson reviews the history of the Google Books class action suit and proposed settlement. She argues that the out-of-print works provisions of the settlement are counter to the open access preferences of academic writers.

Viewpoints: Broadening Participation
Cultivating Cultural Diversity in Information Technology by Valerie Taylor
Describes the new Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT, started in March 2010, and the reasons such a center is needed.

House Passes Bill to Improve Accessibility on the Web

The House recently passed H.R. 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Sponsored by Rep. Markey of Massachusetts, the bill seeks to apply standards of accessibility first encouraged by the Americans with Disabilities Act to online services. Specifically the bill would:

  • Extend general accessibility provisions for equipment that provides voice communication to include Voice over Internet Protocol, electronic messaging and video conferencing services.
  • Video programming shown with captions on televisions must also provide captions if transmitted over the internet.
  • Emergency information shown on television or similar display devices must also provide some audio to reach those with visual impairments.
  • User interfaces for equipment that displays video information must be accessible, and any associated remote control must have a captioning button
  • On-screen guides and text menus provided by navigation devices must also be accessible.

A very similar bill sponsored by Senator Pryor is waiting for a floor vote in the Senate. While both bills read as though they were written for the technology of a few years ago, they do move accessibility standards into the 21st century.

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 26

July 27


The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on consumer online privacy.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

July 28


The Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on online privacy, social networking and crime.
2 p.m., 2141 Rayburn Building
Continue reading “Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 26”

USACM Comments on National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

In late June the White House issued a second Draft of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. They opened a public comment process only on an Ideascale online space for three weeks. As a result, USACM was only able to generate a short list of comments on the draft strategy, which it submitted on July 19.

The Draft Strategy proposes an Identity Ecosystem where trusted authorities would certify that an online identity does correspond to the individual that claims that identity. The idea is that this system would be voluntary, but would allow parties to place more trust in online transactions because the parties would be certified, and could allow people to reduce the number of identities (and the associated log-in names and passwords) that they would have to manage. While detailed, this strategy document is not a plan in the sense of having a specific timetable and particular technologies in mind. The document outlines general goals that the government must meet to establish this Identity Ecosystem. While this suggests that the strategy is a long way from being implemented, the short time frame for public comment suggests some pressure exists to move forward with this project relatively soon.

Even without specific details or an implementation plan, there are some problems with the Strategy that USACM identified in its comments.
Continue reading “USACM Comments on National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace”

ACM Washington Update, Vol. 14.4 (July 9, 2010)


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] USACM and ACM’s Education Policy Committee Offer Support for COMPETES
[3] USACM Releases Issue Brief on Internet Voting
[4] USACM Comments on Internet Privacy Bill Discussion Draft
[5] Yet Another Cybersecurity Bill Introduced in Congress
[6] Federal Communications Commission Looks for Third Way to Address Broadband
[7] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available at
Continue reading “ACM Washington Update, Vol. 14.4 (July 9, 2010)”

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 12

July 14


The House Science and Technology Committee will markup pending legislation
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

July 15


The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on cyber attack attribution
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

July 16


The President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology will meet
10 a.m., National Academies’ Keck Building, 500 5th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.