Policy Highlights from Communications of the ACM – September 2010 (Vol. 53, No. 9)

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

News: Technology
Cycling Through Data by Neil Savage
Sensor-equipped bicycles are functioning as moving data sources for riders, researchers and policy makers.

News: Society
Degrees, Distance and Dollars by Marina Krakovsky
While technology has arguably made online education cheaper to provide, this is not typically reflected in tuition rates. Online education also thrives more in specialized, masters and doctoral programs than in bachelors programs.

Column: Law and Technology
Principles of the Law of Software Contracts by Robert A. Hillman and Maureen A. O’Rourke
The American Law Institute has developed a new set of legal principles for software contracts. The principles, as well as the tensions brought out in the drafting process, are the focus of this article.

Column: The Profession of IT
Discussing Cyber Attack by Peter J. Denning and Dorothy E. Denning
With reports of government activity in the area of cyber attack and exploitation, it’s past time that discussions take place with computer professionals about it, if for no better reason than to improve capacity in cyber defense.

Practice
Computers in Patient Care: The Promise and the Challenge by Stephen V. Cantrill
The author, a doctor with over thirty years experience in medical informatics, reviews the areas where computers have had significant and less-than-significant impact on patient care.

Last Byte: Future Tense
Little Brother Is Watching by Greg Bear
The author outlines a potential future where surveillance is everywhere and regular citizens participate in the watching and reporting.

USACM Expresses Concern About IP Piracy Enforcement Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently introduced the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act to fight piracy of intellectual property. That is an appropriate goal for Congress to pursue, but the means by which it would happen in the proposed legislation raised concerns amongst several commercial, library and public interest groups. As currently written, the bill would shut down piracy sites by having a court order the Domain Name System to not resolve the URL for the website. Additionally the Justice Department can then act to have companies that provide services to websites stop providing for the pirate site. There are serious questions of how these actions would be implemented, whether or not there are sufficient due process provisions, and the challenges of acting internationally via domestic law.

As a result of these questions and others, USACM sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing its concerns, and associating itself with a letter signed by several public-interest, commercial and library groups. A previously scheduled markup session for this bill was postponed until after the November elections, so perhaps some of these concerns will be addressed by the committee at that time.

Policy Highlights from Communications of the ACM – August 2010 (Vol. 53, No. 8)

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

News: Society
Making Sense of Real-Time Behavior by Sarah Underwood
An article covering ‘reality mining’ – data capture and analysis from networks of sensors worn on the human body.

Viewpoints: Education
Preparing Computer Science Students for the Robotics Revolution by David S. Touretzky
The author outlines how robotics holds the potential to transform computer science curriculum, assuming certain impediments are dealt with.

Viewpoints: Privacy and Security
Remembrances of Things Pest by Eugene Spafford
The USACM Chair reviews past malware anniversaries as a means to re-emphasize the factors behind malware and the ways it could be reduced.

Viewpoints
Rights for Autonomous Artificial Agents? by Samir Chopra
A discussion of how shopping bots and similar autonomous programs could or should function within existing legal frameworks.

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of September 20

September 22

Hearing:

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building

The Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on S. 3742, the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2010.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

September 23

Hearing:

The Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
11 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Building