Open Source Coq Wins ACM Software System Award

ACM today selected open source Coq as the recipient of the ACM Software System Award for its influential and critical role as a primary programming and certification tool.

Coq is a software tool for the interactive development of formal theorem proofs and is written in open source OCaml. It provides a formal language to write mathematical definitions, executable algorithms, and theorems together with an environment for semi-interactive development of machine-checked proofs. It uses logic known as the calculus of inductive constructions.

Coq has played an influential role in formal methods, programming languages, program verification, and formal mathematics. It is a key enabling technology for certified software.

To learn more about the ACM Software System Award, visit http://awards.acm.org/software_system/

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ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award Winners – Robert D. Blumofe and Charles E. Leiserson

The Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award honors specific theoretical accomplishments that significantly affect the practice of computing. Paris Kanellakis was a leader in theoretical computer science.

ACM today recognized Robert D. Blumofe and Charles E. Leiserson with the Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award for their contributions to robust parallel and distributed computing. Mr. Blumofe is an Executive Vice President at Akamai Technologies. Professor Leiserson is an ACM Fellow and a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

They developed provably efficient randomized scheduling protocols and a set of parallel-language primitives (the simplest elements in a programming language) constituting the Cilk framework, which is comprised of a language and a runtime system. Cilk supports programming multithreaded computations. Their conceptual framework is ubiquitous on multicore platforms and underpins many parallel-programming platforms. Cilk simplifies multiprocessor programming and guarantees mathematically that multithreaded programs with sufficient parallelism run with near-perfect speed.

Pragmatically, their theoretical accomplishments impact our daily lives in tangible ways through improved load balancing, synchronization, and performance of millions of computer systems worldwide.

To learn more about the ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award, visit http://awards.acm.org/kanellakis/

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ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award Winner – Pedro Felipe Felzenszwalb

The Grace Murray Hopper Award recognizes the outstanding young computer professional of the year. Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper was a computer pioneer who developed the first computer compiler and whose work led to the development of COBOL, one of the first computer programming languages.

ACM today recognized Pedro Felipe Felzenszwalb, an Associate Professor of Engineering and Computer Science at Brown University, with the Grace Murray Hopper Award for his technical contributions to the problem of object detection in images. His work on object recognition in pictures and video has impacted the fields of computer vision and machine learning.

He developed innovative methods that have become key building blocks for most solutions to object recognition. His recent approach uses a sliding window that is moved around the image, testing the underlying image data to determine if local patterns are properly located. In addition to his contributions of novel algorithms and theoretical results, his contributions of open-source software for computer vision has stimulated new research and applications.

He previously served as the Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence from 2009 to 2013 and as the Program Chair of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in 2011.

To learn more about the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, visit http://awards.acm.org/hopper/

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ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award – Susan H. Rodger

The Karlstrom Award recognizes educators who advanced new teaching methodologies; effected new curriculum development in Computer Science and Engineering; or contributed to ACM’s educational mission.

ACM today recognized Susan H. Rodger, a Professor of the Practice in the Department of Computer Science and a member of the ACM Education Policy Committee, with the 2013 Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award for her outstanding contributions to the teaching of computer science theory, to the development of computer science education in primary and secondary schools, and to service on behalf of the computer science education community.

She and her students developed JFLAP (Java Formal Languages and Automata Package), an interactive software tool that allows students to construct and test examples of automata and grammars. These concepts are foundational to the design of software components, such as compiler parts. Intended primarily for undergraduate students or as an advanced topic for high school, JFLAP is used worldwide in computer science theory, compiler, and discrete mathematics courses. Through workshops for faculty development, Rodger’s work contributed to the creation of a professional community around the use of visualizations to teach algorithms. She also leads efforts to introduce the programming language Alice in primary and secondary schools.

She is Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), which serves as a forum for computer science educators. Among its activities, SIGCSE holds an annual technical conference for educators. SIGCSE 2014 attracted 1300+ attendees. SIGCSE 2015 will be held March 4-7, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. SIGCSE also sponsors the Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE) in Europe, the International Computing Education Conference (ICER) held in various locations around the world, and the Doctoral Consortium.

She also serves as a board member of the CRA Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), which strives to increase the participation of women in computer science and engineering.

To learn more about the ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, visit http://awards.acm.org/karlstrom/

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USACM Contributes To Big Data Review

As part of the Administration’s review of big data, privacy and the economy, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Request for Information (RFI) in March.  The RFI sought comments on the public policy implications of big data, alone with some insights on the potential benefits of big data and the technology trends that will influence it.  USACM submitted its own comments.

While the RFI defines big data as involving datasets so “large, diverse and/or complex, that conventional technologies cannot adequately capture, store and analyze them,” USACM noted that the challenges facing big data are applicable to datasets currently being captured, stored and analyzed.  Additionally, the challenges facing data collection, analysis and storage will change as computing capabilities do.

Amongst those challenges are:

  • The increasing ease of re-identifying data thought to be “de-identified” or “anonymized.”
  • Ensuring the security of collected data,
  • Confirming the accuracy of collected data, and
  • Tracking data use and sharing

USACM also noted several areas where research could help address these challenges.  More research in provenance and metadata will help make it easier to share data and to track data flows.  Research in archival practices can help address the challenges of data storage and retrieval in the cloud, and further research in de-identifying data will be needed as re-identification continues to become easier.

Moving forward, policies in big data will need to be flexible to account for the rapid change of what is the state of the art.  They should be as technology-neutral as possible.  Policies can also help to encourage needed infrastructure, including: inexpensive secure homes for collected data, flexible privacy settings for consumers, and additional privacy risk controls.

The Administration’s big data review continues.  A progress report may come from the Administration this month, but the Commerce Department and the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology are also working on pieces of this project, which will likely last several months.

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Nominations for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

April 15 is the deadline for nominations of K-6 teachers, including computer science teachers, for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Award recipients receive a certificate signed by the President, a paid trip for two individuals to Washington, D.C., and a $10,000 award from NSF.

Anyone may nominate an exceptional K-6 mathematics or science teacher using a brief online form asking for the name of the teacher, the teacher’s email address, the school name, and the nominator’s contact information. Teachers may nominate themselves. Once a teacher is nominated, the teacher will receive an email within login information to complete an online application. Only teachers nominated by April 15 may complete an application. Applications are due by May 15.

The nominee must:

  • Teach mathematics or science (including computer science) at the K-6th grade level in a public or private school.
  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Be a full-time employee of the school or school district as determined by state and district policies, and teach K-12 students at least 50% of the time.
  • Have at least 5 years of full-time, K-12 mathematics or science (including computer science) teaching experience prior to the 2013-2014 academic school year.
  • Teach in one of the 50 states or the four U.S. jurisdictions. The jurisdictions are Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Education Activity schools; and the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Not have received the PAEMST award at the national level in any prior competition or category.

To learn more or to nominate a teacher, visit: https://www.paemst.org

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USACM Describes The Systems Engineering Analysis It Recommends For Surveillance Programs

In comments to both the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, USACM recommended the use of an independent systems engineering analysis to review the design and operation of complex processes and systems.  Our members spent some time further considering what should go into such an analysis, outlined the elements for one and described how such an analysis could be performed in the context of national surveillance programs.  This description was submitted in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence earlier this month, and links such an analysis to several of the recommendations by the Review Group.

A systems engineering analysis will be focused on data flowing into, through and out of a system.  Analyses should be concerned with the following system attributes:

  • Auditability (including provenance)—the ability to associate system actions and data with their sources
  • Confidentiality—the extent to which the system ensures that data is only accessible for authorized purposes and to those who are authorized
  • Integrity—the resistance of data to unauthorized modification
  • Data quality (of both collected and derived data)—the fitness of data for its intended purpose, including its accuracy and currency
  • Functional completeness—the extent to which the set of functions addresses all objectives
  • Functional correctness—the extent to which the system produces correct results with the necessary degree of precision
  • Functional appropriateness—the extent to which the functions achieve objectives

The letter goes into further detail about how each of those attributes can be analyzed.  By conducting such an analysis, USACM believes that relevant policy tradeoffs can be highlighted, hopefully before systems are deployed and problems arise.

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USACM Supports Creation of a New Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee

USACM today strongly supported the creation of a new Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee in its comments submitted to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee would serve as a new mechanism for stakeholder input on trade policy issues.

USACM encourages the Advisory Committee, once established, to seek stakeholder input on trade-related principles and policies affecting public interests in the digital age. Digital trade and internet-based products and services are important components of the global economy. Across every major industry and across society broadly, new developments in these areas have created countless new jobs, products, and services; have accelerated the speed, scope, and scale of innovation; have resulted in diverse consumer products and growing consumer demand; and have facilitated advanced manufacturing and big data analytics vital to U.S. businesses being leaders in the global economy. Trade policies should foster and encourage a wide variety of digital technologies and services to emerge within a competitive marketplace.

USACM also encourages the Advisory Committee to include quality technical information and advice from the computing community. Such technical information and advice will help the Committee better evaluate and strengthen policy recommendations to the USTR.

USACM looks forward to the creation of the Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee and to participating in its activities, particularly as they relate to the potential impacts of trade policies to intellectual property rights and their enforcement and the privacy, security, and accessibility of digital products and services.

USACM commends the USTR for its ongoing commitment to expanding trade and investment opportunities to strengthen the U.S. economy and to benefit American businesses and consumers.

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New Report on Third-Party Video Captioning and U.S. Copyright Law

G3ict yesterday released a white paper, authored by Colorado Law Professor Blake Reid, on third-party captioning of video programming and the legal uncertainties arising from conflicts between accessibility laws and regulations and U.S. copyright law.

The paper, Third Party Captioning and Copyright, discusses how third-party captioning of video programming can potentially result in copyright infringement when the third-party does not hold the necessary rights to copyrighted content or does not have permission from the rights holder. The paper provides background information on accessibility requirements and their limitations under federal laws and regulations, particularly the limitations of the current captioning requirements as mandated by the FCC. For example, the FCC regulations for Internet video programming require captioning for video programming previously shown on TV but do not require captions for video clips, online-only content, and user-generated online video. The paper discusses the responsive trends of crowdsourced captions and automatically generated captions, which have developed to help meet the growing need for accessible captioning.

The paper concludes that the potential workaround of contractual relationships are “inefficient or impossible.” The paper describes the fair use doctrine as “perhaps the best hope” for resolving the legal tension, as least under some circumstances. The doctrine, however, might not apply when captions are used for non-accessibility purposes, such as for search engine optimization or online advertisement placement. There, the balancing of factors might tip away from a finding of fair use due to the economic market impacts. Further, fair use does not always provide protection against the anti-circumvention restrictions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Given these legal uncertainties, the white paper recommends a legislative fix to make clear that third-party efforts to caption video uncaptioned by the original provider, when done for the purposes of federal or regulatory compliance or other accessibility purposes, would not constitute copyright infringement and/or would not violate the DMCA’s anti-circumvention restrictions.

For additional information about the white paper and G3ict, read the press release.

G3ict provides the 23-page white paper as a free online download in PDF.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 24

March 26

Hearing:

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on public-private partnerships in cybersecurity.
10 a.m.,  342 Dirksen Building

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

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Presidential Innovation Fellowship for USPTO Patent Quality Initiative

The Presidential Innovation Fellows program invites applications from individuals interested in helping the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) improve patent quality through better prior art identification and evaluation. Fellows will collaborate with innovators in government for 6-13 months. Applications will be accepted through April 7, 2014.

The USPTO also will host a Software Partnership Roundtable on crowdsourcing prior art on April 10, 2014, to receive stakeholder input on ways to leverage techniques and existing initiatives to identify and acquire prior art that is not in the patent publications. The roundtable also will discuss ways to decrease barriers to third-party preissuance submissions.

For more information about the Presidential Innovation Fellowship for the USPTO Patent Quality Initiative, read the USPTO blog post.

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USPTO Software Partnership Roundtable on Crowdsourcing Prior Art for Software Patents on April 10, 2014

The USPTO will hold a Software Partnership Roundtable on April 10 to discuss crowdsourcing and third-party preissuance submissions to identify prior art for software patents. The roundtable and its webcast will be open to the public, but advance registration is required by April 4. Individuals interested in presenting at the roundtable need to request to be a speaker by March 27. The USPTO will accept public comments until April 25.

The USPTO seeks input on the following questions:

1. How can the Office leverage the collective knowledge available via crowdsourcing to provide an examiner with relevant prior art?

2. What suggestions do you have for the Office to encourage more third-party submissions from the scientific and technical community via crowdsourcing activities?

3. Aside from encouraging more third-party submissions, what are other ways the Office can leverage crowdsourcing to get relevant information from experts in the scientific and technical community to the examiner?

4. How can the Office encourage more third-party participation while ensuring that no protest or other form of preissuance opposition to the grant of a patent on an application is initiated after publication of the application?

5. What, if anything, is preventing you from submitting prior art as part of a third-party submission?

6. What other ideas do you have to ensure examiners have the most relevant prior art in front of them during examination?

For additional information, visit: https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-05996

DEADLINES
March 27 Expressions of interest in being a speaker
April 4 Registration for roundtable
April 4 Registration for webcast
April 10 Roundtable at USPTO, Madison Auditorium
April 25 Public comments

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Leslie Lamport Recognized With 2013 A.M. Turing Award

Leslie Lamport, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, has been named as the recipient of the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award.  The recognition is for his work in distributed computing systems, as described in the award citation:

“For fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of distributed and concurrent systems, notably the invention of concepts such as causality and logical clocks, safety and liveness, replicated state machines, and sequential consistency.”

Additionally, Lamport is being recognized for

“imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages. He devised important algorithms and developed formal modeling and verification protocols that improve the quality of real distributed systems. These contributions have resulted in improved correctness, performance, and reliability of computer systems.”

Lamport’s practical and widely used algorithms and tools have applications in security, cloud computing, embedded systems and database systems as well as mission-critical computer systems that rely on secure information sharing and interoperability to prevent failure. His notions of safety, where nothing bad happens, and liveness, where something good happens, contribute to the reliability and robustness of software and hardware engineering design. His solutions for Byzantine Fault Tolerance contribute to failure prevention in a system component that behaves erroneously when interacting with other components. His creation of temporal logic language (TLA+) helps to write precise, sound specifications. He also developed LaTeX, a document preparation system that is the de facto standard for technical publishing in computer science and other fields.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Lamport worked at SRI International and Digital Equipment Corporation (later Compaq Corporation).  The Turing Award, considered the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Computing, is ACM’s top award.  It will be presented to Lamport at the ACM Awards Banquet in June.  The award comes with a $250,000 award, thanks to the support of Intel Corporation and Google Inc.  You can learn more about Dr. Lamport and his work at the A.M. Turing website.

Congratulations to Dr. Lamport.

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NIST Cloud and Mobility Forum and Workshop on March 25-27, 2014

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will host a free NIST Cloud and Mobility Forum and Workshop on March 25-27, at its campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The event will include panel discussions and presentations on future directions for the accessibility, usability, reliability, security, and privacy of mobile devices and mobile cloud computing. Advance registration is required. The event is free and open to the public.

Speakers from government, industry, and academia will discuss an array of topics across the three days. The first day will focus on the current state of cloud computing technologies and a vision for where cloud computing and mobility should go with respect to accessibility, government services, standards, reference architectures, and service level agreements. The second day will focus on challenges and lessons learned, with speakers discussing use cases, technologies, and consumer issues. An afternoon session will explore issues specific to first responders, the financial and banking sectors, and the intelligence community. The third day will look forward to desired objectives and outcomes for a federated mobile cloud, ubiquitous computing, and a diverse, mobile-enabled world.

The event is intended for policymakers, computing professionals, researchers, mobile service providers, and individuals interested in accessible technologies and consumer protections.

Register online for the NIST Cloud and Mobility Forum and Workshop to be held at NIST on March 25-27, 2014.

Participants also are encouraged to register for the NIST Cloud Computing Forensic Science Workshop to be held at NIST on March 24, 2014.

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NIST Cloud Computing Forensic Science Workshop on March 24, 2014

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a federal technology agency, will host a free Cloud Computing Forensic Science Workshop on Monday, March 24, at its campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Advance registration is required. The event is free and open to the public.

More than 20 leaders in digital forensics from government, industry, and academia will share their insights into effective and appropriate ways to identify, recover, examine, analyze, and report on digital evidence found in the cloud and in devices connected to the cloud. Speakers will address challenges and lessons learned, as well as the path forward for cloud computing forensics. The workshop will explore current technologies and methods, desired technical capabilities, case studies, and practical approaches for handling cloud computing forensics.

A facilitated discussion will look at the future of cloud forensics, barriers to implementing the future, and what the road map looks like to achieve the future.

The event is intended for computing professionals, researchers, and implementers of cloud computing and digital forensic technologies.

Register online for the NIST Cloud Computing Forensic Science Workshop to be held at NIST on March 24, 2014.

Participants also are encouraged to register for the Cloud and Mobility Forum to be held at NIST on March 25-27, 2014. The Forum similarly is free and open to the public.

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USTR Invites Public Comments on New Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is accepting public comments on the creation of a new Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee, as well as nominations for membership on the committee. The deadline for public comments and nominations is March 25, 2014.

The Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee will provide trade policy advice and recommendations to the USTR. The Committee also will review and assess proposed trade agreements and provide advisory opinions to the President, the USTR, and Congress on the extent to which treaty language would promote and protect public interests, as well as U.S. interests generally.

The USTR seeks public comments on the following specific elements:

  • What is the appropriate scope of viewpoints to be represented in such a committee to ensure the committee is fairly balanced?
  • How would included viewpoints improve the quality of information and advice provided to USTR?
  • How would viewpoints add value and contribute to the Committee’s mission to provide general trade policy advice?
  • What should be the scope of its objectives and activities?

Additional information is available in the Request for Comments from the Public and Nominations for the Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee.

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White House Seeking Input For Its Big Data Review

Following on the announcement in January that the White House would be reviewing Big Data and its influence on privacy and the economy, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has been seeking input from the public and other stakeholders.  The office has already co-sponsored two conferences on big data.  The first was at MIT last week and the next is scheduled for March 17 at New York University.  Another event will take place at Berkeley later this year.

OSTP released a Request for Information (RIF) last week on how big data can influence privacy, the economy and other aspects of public policy.  Comments must be submitted by March 31, and must be fewer than 7,500 words.

The questions in the RFI are organized around a few broad themes:

  • The public policy implications of the collection, storage, use and analysis of big data
  • What areas of big data could benefit from additional government research or support?
  • Technology trends that may influence big data
  • How should government big data be treated differently from private sector big data?
  • Cross-jurisdiction issues prompted by big data

OSTP considers big data to mean “datasets so large, diverse, and/or complex, that conventional technologies cannot adequately capture, store, or analyze them.”

Responses are due by March 31.  Consult the Federal Register notice for instructions on how to submit your comments.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 10

March 12

Hearing:
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing on election administration
9:45 a.m., 301 Russell Building

The Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on information technology and cyber operations.
3:30 p.m., 2118 Rayburn Building

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ACM Report Urges States to Expand Computer Science Education

Citing the rapid growth of computing jobs in virtually every industry sector in the United States, ACM today issued a report urging states to provide more opportunities for students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to compete for these high-wage positions. The report, Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States, calls on education and business leaders and public policy officials in every state to take immediate action aimed at filling the pipeline of qualified students pursuing computing and related degrees, and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. The report provides recommendations to help these leaders join together to create a comprehensive plan that addresses K-12 computer science education and that aligns state policy, programs, and resources to implement these efforts.

“By 2020, one of every two jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will be in computing,” said Bobby Schnabel, Chair of the ACM Education Policy Committee. “This concentration of computing positions in STEM makes it imperative for K-12 students in academic and career technical education programs to gain more opportunities to learn computer science.”

ACM CEO and Executive Director John White said that despite national calls for improved STEM education, computer science is largely omitted from these reforms. “A key factor in the limited access to K-12 computer science programs is the notion that computer science is not considered part of the ‘core’ subjects that students are expected to learn. We need to expose all students to computer science so they learn the vital skills that are increasingly relevant to a broad range of well-paying occupations,” he said.

To remedy this dilemma, the report recommends that states or localities adopt a clear definition of rigorous computer science that is grounded in the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards developed by the Computer Science Teachers Association.

The ACM report calls on colleges and universities to play a role in expanding opportunities for computer science education by recognizing rigorous computer science courses in their admissions requirements. Higher education institutions can also reduce barriers to degree completion by adopting system-wide agreements that allow students to transfer course credits to fulfill their computing degrees efficiently.

Examples of current computing education initiatives across the country are included in the report, providing potential models and inspiration for policymakers to adapt as they develop their own computer science education and computing workforce development plans. The report includes an overview of each initiative’s approach for increasing access to computer science in K-12 as well as plans to address diversity issues.

The report presents the results of a study conducted by the ACM Education Policy Committee. The study, based on data gathered from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, was designed to assess the national computing workforce landscape, and to determine how well states are preparing K-12 students with the computing skills necessary for their future careers.

To learn more and to download the full-text of the report for free, visit pathways.acm.org.

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Internet Policy Task Force Multistakeholder Forum on DMCA Notice and Takedown

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force will hold a multistakeholder forum to discuss the DMCA notice and takedown system on March 20, 2014 at the USPTO main campus in Alexandria, Virginia. Subsequent public forums will take place every 6 weeks, alternating between the USPTO main campus and Silicon Valley. Advance registration is required to attend in person or to watch the livecast.

The Internet Policy Task Force is co-led by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The Task Force is coordinating with the U.S. Copyright Office. The Task Force aims to produce an agreed upon outcome to improve the DMCA notice and takedown system by the end of the year.

Additional details about this first multistakeholder forum will be announced in the Federal Register. The Task Force also anticipates holding roundtables to discuss remixes, first sale, and statutory damages.

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U.S. Copyright Office Invites Public Comments on Right of “Making Available” in the Digital Age

The U.S. Copyright Office invites public comments on the rights of “making available” and “communication to the public,” particularly in the digital age. The deadline for comments is April 4, 2014. A public roundtable will be held in Washington, D.C. on May 5, 2014.

Questions from the Federal Register announcement:

1. Existing Exclusive Rights Under Title 17
a. How does the existing bundle of exclusive rights currently in Title 17 cover the making available and communication to the public rights in the context of digital on-demand transmissions such as peer-to-peer networks, streaming services, and downloads of copyrighted content, as well as more broadly in the digital environment?
b. Do judicial opinions interpreting Section 106 and the making available right in the framework of tangible works provide sufficient guidance for the digital realm?

2. Foreign Implementation and Interpretation of the WIPO Internet Treaties
a. How have foreign laws implemented the making available right (as found in WCT Article 8 and WPPT Articles 10 and 14)? Has such implementation provided more or less legal clarity in those countries in the context of digital distribution of copyrighted works?
b. How have courts in foreign countries evaluated their national implementation of the making available right in these two WIPO treaties? Are there any specific case results or related legislative components that might present attractive options for possible congressional consideration?

3. Possible Changes to U.S. Law
a. If Congress continues to determine that the Section 106 exclusive rights provide a making available right in the digital environment, is there a need for Congress to take any additional steps to clarify the law to avoid potential conflicting outcomes in future litigation? Why or why not?
b. If Congress concludes that Section 106 requires further clarification of the scope of the making available right in the digital environment, how should the law be amended to incorporate this right more explicitly?
c. Would adding an explicit “making available” right significantly broaden the scope of copyright protection beyond what it is today? Why or why not? Would existing rights in Section 106 also have to be recalibrated?
d. Would any amendment to the “making available” right in Title 17 raise any First Amendment concerns? If so, how can any potential issues in this area be avoided?
e. If an explicit right is added, what, if any, corresponding exceptions or limitations should be considered for addition to the copyright law?

Additional information is available at: https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-04104

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Call for Presentations on Mobile Accessibility for the M-Enabling Summit in Washington, D.C.

The M-Enabling Summit conference invites program proposals for presentations and case studies. The conference will be held June 9-10, 2014 in the Washington, D.C. area and is co-sponsored by G3ict, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The conference attracts attendees from the U.S. federal government, foreign governments, academia, industry, and civil society. The deadline for proposals is March 21, 2014.

The conference will feature presentations on the range of innovations within the mobile accessibility eco-system, including mobiles apps, devices, services, and peripherals. Presentations can describe and demonstrate new software and services or explore case studies that show demonstrated benefits for people with disabilities.

Proposals should be 350-500 words describing the innovative technology or service, its benefits to people with disabilities, and how the accessible solution is distributed. Proposals also should include relevant links to the innovation and media stories.

For additional information, visit: http://m-enabling.com/callforpresentations.html

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FCC Invites Nominations for the 3rd Annual Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility

The FCC is seeking nominations for the 3rd Annual FCC Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility until March 31, 2014.

The Chairman’s Awards aim to highlight and encourage innovation in accessible technologies, standards, and best practices that will benefit people with disabilities. Nominations can include a product, service, technology, or practice introduced publicly between August 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013. Individuals, businesses, organizations, or other public or private entities can submit nominations. Self-nominations also will be accepted.

Award categories include:

  • Mobile Web Browsers
  • Social Media
  • Closed Captions
  • Video Descriptions
  • Advanced Communications Services
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Criteria include:

  • Unique and inventive
  • Extent to which disability needs are addressed
  • Number of people likely to benefit
  • Affordability and availability
  • Whether recognition would help foster additional innovation and accessibility

Nominations should include a brief description of the innovation, the award category, the date the innovation was introduced to the public, and why the innovation qualifies for the Chairman’s Award.

For more information, visit: http://www.fcc.gov/document/chairmans-accessibility-awards-nomination-period-opening

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FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Speaker Series: Dr. Juan E. Gilbert

The FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Speaker Series will feature Dr. Juan E. Gilbert presenting on “Innovation in Voting Accessibility” on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, at 9 am ET. The presentation will be followed by accessible technology demonstrations in the FCC’s Technology Experience Center. The event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration for in-person attendance is not required but highly encouraged. A live webcast with captioning will be available.

Dr. Juan E. Gilbert is a member of the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council and an ACM Distinguished Scientist. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and is the Presidential Endowed Chair in Computing at Clemson University. He also is an IDEaS Professor and Chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division in the School of Computing where he leads the HCC Lab. His research team at Clemson University won the FCC Chairman’s 2012 Award for Advancement in Accessibility for their accessible voting system, known as the Prime III: A Universally Designed Voting Machine. Dr. Gilbert was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring by President Barack Obama in 2011.

He is also a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, a National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, and a Senior Member of the IEEE. Dr. Gilbert was recently named one of the 50 most important African Americans in Technology.

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Administration Launches Big Data and Privacy Review

As part of the government response to public concerns over national security surveillance programs, the President announced in January that there would be a review of government activity related to the collection and use of ‘Big Data.’  The effort will involve several government bodies, and is led by White House Counselor John Podesta.  He will work with the Secretaries of Energy and Commerce, as well as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Council of Economic Advisers.  Podesta recently explained the goals of this multi-agency review in a White House blog post.

“When we complete our work, we expect to deliver to the President a report that anticipates future technological trends and frames the key questions that the collection, availability, and use of “big data” raise – both for our government, and the nation as a whole. It will help identify technological changes to watch, whether those technological changes are addressed by the U.S.’s current policy framework and highlight where further government action, funding, research and consideration may be required.”

Part of this effort involves a study by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on big data and privacy.  USACM signed onto a letter encouraging PCAST to include public input in its study process.   OSTP is co-sponsoring a series of workshops on Big Data and Privacy, the first one will take place next week at MIT.  Additional workshops are planned for New York University and Berkeley later this year.

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Congressional App Challenge 2014

The first annual Congressional App Challenge, established by the U.S. House of Representatives, invites high school students to use their programming and other computer science knowledge and skills to develop innovative software programs for mobile devices, tablets, computers, or cloud-computing platforms. Winning entries will be showcased by Congress. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2014.

Modeled after the annual Congressional Art Competition, this new competition aims to engage and empower more students in computer science and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 411-3 last year to create an annual Congressional Academic Competition, with this app challenge becoming the inaugural competition.

In addition to the software program, each student must submit a short video demonstrating the app and describing briefly what he or she learned when designing, coding, and testing the app.

The rules state that entries will be judged based on the following three criteria:
1. Quality of the idea (including creativity and originality)
2. Implementation of the idea (including user experience and design)
3. Demonstrated excellence of coding and programming skills

For more details, visit studentappchallenge.house.gov

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Reports On Surveillance Programs Vary In Engagement With Technology

In January both the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) and the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Review Group) issued their reports on intelligence surveillance programs.  USACM submitted comments to both PCLOB and the Review Group.  In its comments, USACM outlined technical issues and constraints that make effectively implementing these programs – while preserving security and privacy principles –  a challenge.

USACM did not engage in a legal or constitutional analysis, but focused on providing technical advice related to the surveillance programs under review.  USACM does not believe that a useful policy analysis of these programs can be done without a technical analysis.  We encouraged the use of an independent systems-engineering analysis of the data collection and analysis programs related to these programs.  Additionally, we recommended that surveillance programs follow generally accepted fair information practices for data minimization and consistently implement data access controls, coupled with regular audits.  We noted that mandated intercept capabilities could introduce vulnerabilities into computing systems, and posed problems for national competitiveness and reputation abroad. Read More »

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of February 3

February 4

Hearing:

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on data breaches and cybercrime.
10:15 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building

February 5

The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on consumer data breaches.
9:30 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building

Markup:

The House Homeland Security Committee will markup legislation on cybersecurity and critical infrastructure.
10 a.m., 311 Cannon Building

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Presidential Commission Issues Recommendations on Improving Voting Experience

On January 22, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration issued the report requested of it by President Obama.  Formed after reports of long lines and other voting difficulties in the 2012 election, the Commission was charged with identifying best practices in election administration and recommend steps to improve the voting experience.  The Commission held several meetings in the second half of 2013 and engaged election officials, researchers, advocates and members of the public to gather information. USACM submitted a letter to the Commission in June 2013 outlining how voting technology has unique requirements.

The report offers recommendations in four major categories: voter registration, access to the polls, polling place management and voting technology.  As we noted in our press release, several of the report’s recommendations reflect concerns USACM has expressed in previous comments on voting technologies.   Specifically:

  • Continued expansion of online voter registration and collaboration in improving the accuracy of voting rolls and efficiency of the registration process. (Read the ACM voter registration database report)
  • Reform the standards and certification process for voting technology to encourage innovation in voting technology and the adoption of available technologies for voting purposes.
  • Make sure polling places are accessible to all voters and are designed to function smoothly so that every citizen can use them throughout the voting process.
  • Conducting post-election audits of voting equipment to allow the accurate recounting of ballots.
  • Improve the ability of military and overseas votes to access ballots and other voting materials via the internet (though the internet is not secure enough to permit voting).  (Read the USACM brief on internet voting.)
Posted in E-voting | Comments closed

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of January 27

January 28

Hearing:
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the security of the HealthCare.gov website.
10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Building

The Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and the Internet of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on copyright and fair use.
2 p.m., 2141 Rayburn Building

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of January 13

January 14 – Edited to reflect new hearing and new hearing time on January 16

Original Post – January 13
January 14

Hearing:

The Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the scope of copyright protection.
10 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Building

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on federal conference and travel spending.
10:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Building

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the report by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
2:30 p.m.,  226 Dirksen Building

January 15

Markup:

The Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will review pending legislation, including a bill on cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection.
2 p.m., 311 Cannon Building

January 16

Hearing:
(Added) The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the information security of the HealthCare.gov website.
9:30 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Building

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the information security of the HealthCare.gov website.
9:1010 a.m.,  2318 Rayburn Building

The Communications, Internet and Technology Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the location accuracy of 911 calls.
10:30 a.m., 253 Russell Building

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Congress Invites Public Comments on Updating the Communications Act

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is seeking public comments on a white paper released yesterday on “Modernizing the Communications Act.” The public comments will help inform the Committee as it reviews and updates the Communications Act. The comprehensive reform is anticipated to be a multiyear process. The deadline for public comments is January 31, 2014.

The Committee invites public comments on the following issues:

1. The current Communications Act is structured around particular services. Does this structure work for the modern communications sector? If not, around what structures or principles should the titles of the Communications Act revolve?

2. What should a modern Communications Act look like? Which provisions should be retained from the existing Act, which provisions need to be adapted for today’s communications environment, and which should be eliminated?

3. Are the structure and jurisdiction of the FCC in need of change? How should they be tailored to address systemic change in communications?

4. As noted, the rapidly evolving nature of technology can make it difficult to legislate and regulate communications services. How do we create a set of laws flexible enough to have staying power? How can the laws be more technology-neutral?

5. Does the distinction between information and telecommunications services continue to serve a purpose? If not, how should the two be rationalized?

Instructions for submitting public comments are provided in the White Paper.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee provides updates and additional resources.

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FCC Invites Public Comments on the Accessibility of User Interfaces for Video Programming

The FCC invites public comments related to the usability and accessibility of user display settings for closed captioning of video, on-screen text menus for video programming guides, and audible emergency information to accompany on-screen emergency information. The FCC also would like feedback on whether it would be beneficial to notify consumers of the availability of accessibility features. The deadline for public comments is February 18, 2014.

The FCC specifically invites comments on:

• Whether the Commission should adopt rules to define the term “usable” for purposes of implementing Section 204 of the CVAA;

• Whether the phrase “accessibility features” in Sections 303(aa)(3) and 303(bb)(2) of the Act includes user display settings for closed captioning and whether those sections can be interpreted to require covered entities to ensure that consumers are able to locate and control such settings;

• Whether there are possible sources of authority for the Commission to require MVPDs to ensure that video programming guides and menus that provide channel and program information include high level channel and program descriptions and titles, as well as a symbol identifying the programs with accessibility options;

• Whether the Commission should require manufacturers of apparatus covered by Section 203 of the CVAA to provide access to the secondary audio stream used for audible emergency information by a mechanism reasonably comparable to a button, key, or icon;

• Whether the Commission should impose additional notification requirements on MVPDs regarding the availability of accessible equipment and, if so, what those notification requirements should be; and

• Whether equipment manufacturers subject to Section 205 should be required pursuant to Section 205(b)(1) to inform consumers about the availability of audibly accessible devices and accessibility solutions.

Additional information is available in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).

See the related Final Rule for Accessibility of User Interfaces, and Video Programming Guides and Menus, published in the Federal Register on December 20 and entering into effect on January 21, 2014.

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FCC Invites Public Comments on Closed Captioning of IP-Delivered Video Clips

The FCC invites public comments on applying closed captioning rules to IP-delivered video clips. The deadline for public comments is January 27, 2013.

In its IP Closed Captioning Order, the FCC determined that full-length online video programming must provide closed captioning pursuant to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The FCC left open whether the closed captioning rules should apply equally to online video clips. A coalition of consumer groups petitioned the FCC for reconsideration. The FCC now seeks public comment.

The FCC asks commenters to address the following issues:

• To the extent that some entities have already captioned these clips, what technical challenges, if any, had to be addressed?

• How does the captioning of IP-delivered video clips differ from the captioning of full-length IP-delivered video programming?

• What are the differences between captioning live or near-live IP-delivered video clips, such as news clips, and prerecorded IP-delivered video clips?

• What steps must be taken in order to caption IP-delivered video clips?

• Should closed captioning of IP-delivered video clips be required as a legal and/or policy matter?

• How is the position in the public comment consistent with the CVAA, its legislative history, and the intent of Congress?

• What are the costs-benefits of requiring closed captioning of IP-delivered video clips?

• How have consumers been affected by the absence of closed captioning?

• If the Commission imposes closed captioning obligations for IP-delivered video clips, should the requirements apply to all video clips, or only to a subset of such clips? If only to a subset, what subsets would be most appropriate and what would be the rationale for excluding others?

Additional information about the “Media Bureau Seeks Comment on Application of the IP Closed Captioning Rules to Video Clips” is available at:
https://federalregister.gov/a/2013-30835

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USPTO Public Forum on the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold a public forum on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, from 9 am to noon ET to discuss proposed changes to the agency’s practices to implement the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012. Advance registration is required. A live webcast will be available.

The new changes will give U.S. industrial designers the option of filing a single international industrial design application in a single language with the USPTO to obtain coverage in more than 60 foreign jurisdictions worldwide. Currently, U.S. industrial designers must file separate applications in each country or with each intergovernmental organization, such as the EU, to obtain legal protections. Industrial designs protect the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of a range of products, including computers, mobiles devices, technical instruments, and smart-home appliances, that make them more usable and appealing.

The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 implements two international treaties: the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs and the Patent Law Treaty. The treaties are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The USPTO intends the forum to provide an overview of the major changes to:

  • Standardize formal requirements for international design applications;
  • Establish the USPTO as an office through which international design applications may be filed;
  • Provide for substantive examination by the USPTO of international design applications that designate the United States;
  • Provide provisional rights for published international design applications that designate the United States; and
  • Set the patent term for design patents issuing from both national design applications and international design applications designating the United States at 15 years from the date of patent grant.

Additional information about the public forum on January 14 and how to access the live webcast will be posted on the USPTO website.

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USPTO Invites Public Comments on Prior Art Resources for Software Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invites public comments on prior art resources for software patents as a follow-up to last month’s Software Partnership Meeting. The deadline for comments is March 14, 2014.

The USPTO specifically would like comments on the following questions:

  1. What specific databases, websites, tools and other resources do you find useful in searching for software-related inventions? Please indicate strengths and limitations of each resource.

  2. What are your concerns regarding the manner in which USPTO examiners formulate and implement search strategies to identify prior art for software related inventions? How should these concerns be addressed?

The USPTO also invites comments on how the agency can enhance prior art searching through the use of search strategies, tools, and databases.

Additional information about the “Request for Comments Regarding Prior Art Resources for Use in the Examination of Software-Related Patent Applications” is available at: https://federalregister.gov/a/2013-31492

The agenda, video, and presentation slides from the Software Partnership Meeting on Prior Art on December 5, 2013, are available at:
http://www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/prior_art_search.jsp

A list of electronic prior art resources used by USPTO patent examiners is available at: http://www.uspto.gov/patents/resources/priorart.jsp

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PCAST Releases Cybersecurity Report

Following its November meeting, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter report on cybersecurity.  The report follows a classified briefing PCAST gave to the President back in February.

The report encourages that the federal government and the private sector avoid static procedures on cybersecurity and pursue “a set of processes that continuously couple information about an evolving threat to defensive reactions and responses.”  To that end the report recommends industry-driven third-party audited continuous improvement processes.  Transparent reporting would be an important part of these audited processes.

The report provides specific recommendations for the government and the private sector, as well as guidance about how the two sectors should interact about cybersecurity.  It encourages the government to tidy its own house, and to encourage private sector cybersecurity practices through any realm of Federal regulation – not just national security.  PCAST encourages the private sector to share information amongst themselves, and with the government as appropriate.

Since this is effectively the public version of a nine month old report, it’s hard to know what new actions will come from the document.  It’s quite possible that the Administration is well on its way toward implementing some of these recommendations.

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Article on the “Legal Aspects of Interface Accessibility in the U.S.”

The December issue of the Communications of the ACM includes an article co-authored by USACM Accessibility Committee Chair Harry Hochheiser and committee member Jonathan Lazar on the “Legal Aspects of Interface Accessibility in the U.S.” Their article responds to and expands upon ACM President Vint Cerf’s article from a year ago, “Why Is Accessibility So Hard?

Vint Cerf’s article, published in the Communications of the ACM in November 2012, sought to spark a dialogue on how to improve accessibility in the field. He highlighted some challenges to accessible adaptation, including the proliferation of platforms, the wide range of modes of interaction, the unlimited variations of applications, and the diverse needs of users. He stated that “no amount of automatic adapting will make a poorly designed interface accessible.” He asserted that accessibility, like security, needs to be “built in” to the initial design. He concluded by inviting ACM members, SIGs, UX design experts, and users to provide their thoughts on how we can “approach this problem with a richer combination of design principles, pragmatic tactics, and artful implementations than we have in hand today.”

Why is accessibility so hard? Technology is only part of the reason. . .

Asserting that technical hurdles are only part of the overall challenge, Hochheiser and Lazar state, “The technical complexity of making interfaces accessible to people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments is matched by a daunting regulatory and legal framework.” The article discusses accessible design, including the role of standards, guidelines, and practices to support accessibility and usability. The article then explores the framework of federal and state laws and regulations and how the legal landscape can create perceptions of accessibility as difficult to implement. They conclude with a call to action for computing professionals to be involved in public policy discussions related to accessibility. The article concludes with a list of helpful and informative articles, websites, and other resources.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2013

Today, December 3, is the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme is “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.” The UN says that more than 1 billion people, or roughly 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. A major focus of the day is to “highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness to break barriers and open doors: for an inclusive society for all.”

USACM is dedicated to making computing more accessible for everyone. USACM recognizes the value of building appropriate accessibility features into the design of interfaces, platforms, and devices. Designing for accessibility has benefits well beyond better support for people with disabilities. A commitment to making technologies more accessible will pay dividends in evolving technology that can be more easily accessed – and more easily understood and used – by everyone. These advances will result in better access to important information, and broader participation in commercial and educational activities by all citizens.

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FTC Workshop on Digital “Native Advertising” on December 4, 2013

The Federal Trade Commission will hold a workshop titled, “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content?,” on December 4, 2013, to explore the increasing trend of “native advertising.” The all-day workshop will feature remarks by FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, perspectives from the Director and Staff Attorney of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and three panels comprised of advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, computer scientists, and other stakeholders. Among the panelists is usability expert Jeff Johnson, an ACM Distinguished Speaker. The workshop is open to the public; no advance registration is required. A live webcast will be available.

Online native advertising goes beyond the traditional display banners. It seeks to provide a non-interruptive, integrated experience for the user. Native advertising blends sponsored content with editorial, news, entertainment, and other content. Examples include promoted tweets on Twitter, sponsored likes/comments/shares on Facebook on users’ pages, sponsored stories on Facebook, promoted listings on Yelp, and check-in ads on Foursquare. The Atlantic offers “sponsor content” that may be created by the advertiser in collaboration with The Atlantic’s marketing staff. As depicted in the Workshop’s title, the concern is that these practices could make it difficult for users to distinguish the blurred lines between paid advertising and editorial content, which carries the risk of triggering enforcement action by the FTC for unfair or deceptive practices.

When the FTC updated its “.Com Disclosures” guidance for online and mobile advertising in March 2013, the agency emphasized the need for “clear and conspicuous” disclosures across various digital devices and platforms used by consumers. The updated guidance clarified that such disclosures should be “as close as possible” to the digital ad and displayed large and long enough for consumers to view the disclosure. For audio disclosures, the audio should be sufficiently loud for consumers to hear it. The FTC cautioned that, if the disclosure could not these requirements for a particular technology, the advertiser should not use the ad for that device or platform.

As part of this workshop, experts will present recent research about how consumers interact with their devices, provide insights on the current and emergent technological limitations and unique characteristics of mobile and online environments, and discuss the implications for disclosures when content is aggregated by search engines or retransmitted through social media.

For more information and to watch the live webcast, visit: FTC Workshop on Native Advertising – “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content?”

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FTC Seeks Public Comments on Proposed Patent Assertion Entity Study

The Federal Trade Commission has extended the deadline for public comments on its proposed study of patent assertion entities (PAEs) until Monday, December 16, 2013.

The study would seek information from roughly 25 companies whose business model relies primarily on buying and selling patents, and asserting patents through licensing and enforcement. The information is intended to help the agency better understand the impact of patent assertion entities on innovation and competition. The FTC also intends to send information requests to an additional 15 patent assertion entities and other entities asserting patents in the wireless communications sector.

The FTC states that the study will seek information relevant to the following questions:

  • How do PAEs organize their corporate legal structure, including parent and subsidiary entities?
  • What types of patents do PAEs hold, and how do they organize their holdings?
  • How do PAEs acquire patents, and how do they compensate prior patent owners?
  • How do PAEs engage in assertion activity (i.e. demand, litigation, and licensing behavior)?
  • What does assertion activity cost PAEs?; and
  • What do PAEs earn through assertion activity?

The FTC’s proposed Section 6(b) study was recommended by panelists during the Patent Assertion Entity Activities Workshop, jointly sponsored by the FTC and U.S. Department of Justice in December 2012.

Public comments can be submitted on the FTC website.

Posted in Intellectual Property | Comments closed

New Federal Regulations Require Accessible Airline Websites and Kiosks

New federal regulations by the U.S. Department of Transportation require airlines to make their websites and airport kiosks more accessible for people with disabilities. Airlines have up to 2 years to make reservation, flight, and frequent flyer account information on their websites accessible and up to 3 years to make their entire websites accessible. They have up to 10 years to ensure that at least 25% of kiosks are accessible.

The required technical standard for airline websites is WCAG 2.0, an international web accessibility standard published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Airline websites, including any embedded third-party software, will need to meet the standard’s Level AA performance criteria. The U.S. Access Board has proposed incorporating WCAG 2.0 into its anticipated update of Section 508 requirements governing the accessibility of public websites provided by federal agencies.

Airlines must consult with individuals or organizations representing visual, auditory, tactile, and cognitive disabilities when testing the accessibility and usability of their websites. As a best practice, airlines are encouraged to work with disability advocacy organizations when developing accessible websites, rather than waiting until the testing phase, so accessibility can be built-in by design. The Final Rule encourages, but does not require, airlines to integrate all the feedback. Airlines are not obligated to incorporate suggested web accessibility changes that would be “unduly burdensome to implement.”

External links to partially or entirely inaccessible websites “containing information and consumer comments about the carrier’s services” must be accompanied by a disclaimer that the external website is not within the airline’s control and might not follow the same accessibility policies. The Final Rule uses the example of the Social Security Administration, which provides a popup “External Link Disclaimer” for social media links. In contrast, the Final Rule spotlights the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as two agencies that have “collaborated successfully” with those social media providers to provide accessible interfaces; their websites do not provide an “External Link Disclaimer” when users click on social media links.

Customers with disabilities who are unable to book flights online due to inaccessible airline websites continue to be entitled to online airfare discounts when making reservations by phone. The Final Rule reinforces the existing obligation of airlines to disclose online discounts and to waive fees not imposed on online reservations. The Final Rule warns airlines that a failure to provide such disclosures and equivalent pricing could result in enforcement action. Underscoring this warning and the need for properly trained customer service staff, the Final Rule references a research study conducted in 2010 by USACM member Dr. Jonathan Lazar, a Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences and the Director of the Universal Usability Laboratory at Towson University, and his students. That research study revealed possible compliance problems whereby customers who identified themselves as disabled and unable to book flights online due to accessibility problems did not always receive equivalent pricing by phone as online customers.

In 2010, Dr. Jonathan Lazar and students at the Department of Computer and Information Sciences of Towson State University conducted a study involving test calls to major carriers to determine how consistently carriers comply with these requirements. Their findings suggested that there are compliance problems. After placing a series of 60 phone calls (15 calls to each of 4 major carriers), students who self-identified as blind and specifically stated that they were unable to access the carrier’s Web site noted at least one instance per carrier of price discrimination (e.g., discounted Web-based fares offered online were not disclosed to the caller or the agent refused to waive the telephone reservation fee). The rate of compliance failure was as high as 33 percent and 40 percent respectively for two carriers.

The new regulations apply to U.S. and foreign airlines with at least one flight in the United States capable of carrying more than 60 passengers. The Final Rule amends rules implementing the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as well as a rule prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition.

For more information, read the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Final Rule on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Accessibility of Web Sites and Automated Kiosks at U.S. Airports.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of November 18

November 19

Hearing:

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the data security of the Healthcare.gov website.
1o a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

The Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on regulation of medical apps and health software.
10 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Building

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the security of the Healthcare.gov website.
10:15 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building

November 22

Hearing:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will hold a field hearing on education and technology
1:30 p.m., Phillip O. Berry Academy, 1430 Alleghany Street, Charlotte, North Carolina

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of November 11

November 12

Hearing:

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on multiple nominees, including the Associate Director for Science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

5:40 p.m., S-216 Capitol Building

November 13

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on the information security of the HealthCare.gov website.

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Building

The Research and Technology subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on research investments at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  The hearing will also cover education programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of November 4

November 4

Meeting:
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is meeting to discuss national security surveillance programs (the meeting was originally scheduled for October 4).  USACM Chair Eugene Spafford will appear before the Board in the afternoon.

9:15-4:15 Mayflower Hotel,  1127 Connecticut Avenue N.W.

November 6

Hearing:
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act (hearing originally scheduled for October 2).

2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

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Internet Policy Task Force Seeks Public Comments on “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy” Report

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force invites public comments on its report, “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.” The 122-page report provides an analysis of copyright policy since 1995, recommends possible regulatory and legislative actions, and identifies specific policy issues for further discussion and public input. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) provided input to the report. The Internet Policy Task Force will accept written comments until November 13, 2013.

A public meeting to discuss various copyright policy issues raised in the report has been rescheduled for December 12, 2013. The agenda for the meeting will be posted on the International Policy Task Force website.

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USPTO Software Partnership Meeting on Prior Art Searching Techniques and Tools on December 5, 2013

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold the next Software Partnership meeting on December 5, 2013, from 1-4:30 pm ET at its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The focus of the meeting will be on “ways to improve the USPTO’s prior art searching techniques and tools.” Members of the public are invited to attend. The deadline for requests to attend in person is November 27, 2013. The meeting also will be online via WebEx.

The meeting will be organized around three main segments. First, the USPTO will provide a presentation on searching techniques and tools currently used by examiners to find and evaluate prior art for software-related patents. Then, selected participants will provide presentations. Lastly, a questions and comments session will allow stakeholders to provide input on possible approaches and projects identified during the discussion and to provide additional suggestions and observations. The USPTO intends the meeting to be of particular interest to software experts with a background in search technologies and patent practitioners who conduct searches for prior art.

The USPTO is particularly interested in public input on the following topics:

  • Prior art search techniques
    • Search strategies
    • Examiner search training and guidance
    • Enhanced search tools such as semantic query analysis and improved database indexing
  • Prior art databases and resources
  • Additional best practices for searching

In April, the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council was among the stakeholders to submit comments to the USPTO expressing an interest in discussing further how to improve finding and assessing relevant prior art as part of the Software Partnership activities.

For more information about the Software Partnership meeting on December 5, 2013, and how to request to participate, see the Software Partnership page on the USPTO website.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of October 28

October 29

Markup:

(Rescheduled from October 24) The House Homeland Security Committee will review pending legislation, including H.R. 3107, the Cybersecurity Boots-On-The-Ground Act.  This bill would (as currently written) require certain classifications and assessments of the federal cybersecurity workforce.

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Building

October 30

Hearing:

The Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies and the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on cyber incident response.

9 a.m., 311 Cannon Building

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of October 21

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hearing:

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on “The Evolution of Wired Communications Networks.” 10:30 am, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Markup:

10/24 update – Rescheduled for October 29 at 10 am. The House Committee on Homeland Security will markup H.R. 3107, the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act, which would require the Secretary of Homeland Security “to establish cybersecurity occupation classifications, assess the cybersecurity workforce, develop a strategy to address identified gaps in the cybersecurity workforce, and for other purposes.” 311 Cannon House Office Building.

Hearings:

10/24 update – The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on “PPACA Implementation Failures: Didn’t Know or Didn’t Disclose?” 9 am, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

10/23 update – Rescheduled for October 29 at 1:30 pm. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a hearing on “NSA Programs.” 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.

10/24 update – Postponed. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing on “The FTC at 100: Where Do We Go From Here?“. 1 pm, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

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USPTO Software Partnership Meeting on October 17 at U.C. Berkeley School of Law

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold a Software Partnership Meeting tomorrow, October 17, 2013, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm Pacific Time, at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law. The meeting will provide a forum for the software and high-tech communities to hear about governmental activities to improve patent policies and examinations and to discuss the potential use of glossaries in software-related patent applications. Members of the public are invited to attend in person. Space is limited. The meeting also will be online via WebEx.

The meeting topics will include:

  • A summary of the feedback from the Software Partnership listening sessions held in February
  • An overview of the White House Task Force on High-Tech Patent Issues
  • A discussion of the possible use of glossaries in patent applications
  • Proposed next steps by the USPTO

The USPTO has provided the following discussion questions regarding glossaries for the participants to consider:

  • What impacts on prosecution have you seen from using glossaries (e.g., efficiency, clarity, number and type of rejections)?
  • How do you evaluate the impact of glossaries on prosecution?
  • Please provide specific examples where the use of a glossary was helpful during and/or after prosecution (i.e., litigation, re-exam, re-issue, licensing).
  • Do you utilize a particular format for the definitions within the glossary (e.g., tables, formulae, bulleted list)? Why or why not? If possible, please provide an example of your preferred format.
  • Do you foresee any issues or concerns with the use of glossaries during and/or after prosecution? If so, what issues or concerns?
  • What incentives, if any, could the USPTO provide to encourage you to participate in a glossary pilot program and provide a glossary for claim terms in applications under the pilot?
  • For the technological areas where you practice, which specific areas would benefit from the use of a glossary in the specification? Why?

See the full list of discussion questions and meeting details.

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AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships in Big Data and Analytics

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is accepting applications for its Science and Technology Policy Fellowship program. Fellows are placed in congressional and executive branch offices. This year, a new track in Big Data and Analytics will place PhD computer scientists in federal agencies. This is a great opportunity for computer scientists to help policymakers better understand the federal policy and regulatory issues from a technological perspective.

Key policy issues for Big Data and Analytics Policy Fellows could include:

  • Data governance for big data analytics projects
  • Data privacy and security
  • Safeguards against data misuse
  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Integrity
  • Ethics of intelligent information systems
  • Public benefits of big data

AAAS expects to place up to 15 Big Data and Analytics Fellows.

Applicants must hold a PhD or an equivalent doctoral-level degree in a scientific or engineering disciple or a master’s degree in engineering with three years of professional experience. The program is only open to U.S. citizens.

The deadline for applications is November 1, 2013.

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Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies Hears from USACM

In light of the leaks surrounding U.S. national intelligence surveillance efforts, President Obama appointed a group to review those programs to determine if they are in the best possible balance with other national interests.  This Review Group requested comments from the public on its charge:

“[W]hether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust.”

On Friday USACM submitted comments to this group.  Expanding on the comments we submitted to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in August, USACM outlined the challenges involved with computing systems used in surveillance activities.  USACM recommends that the Review Group have an ‘independent systems-engineering analysis of the data structure(s) developed” as a result of current surveillance programs.  Such an analysis will make it easier to examine the trade-offs involved between technical capabilities, national security interests, privacy and civil liberties interests and other concerns.  This examination of tradeoffs should accompany a full and open public dialog.

Our comments go into additional detail about the limitations of computing, the potential risks of massive data collection programs, and the need for effective oversight mechanisms to address those risks and limitations. Programs of the size and scope suggested by recent leaks present notable data management challenges.  Addressing those challenges will require technical sophistication, strong oversight and rigid safeguards.

The Review Group is supposed to provide recommendations to the President no later than December 15.

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Hill Tech Happenings Week of September 30

October 3 – ETA I was optimistic that all of the scheduled activities for this week would proceed as intended. The October 2 hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee, and the markup session of the House Homeland Security Committee were postponed. The October 4 meeting of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has also been postponed. Though the Board is still operating on funds from the previous fiscal year, several witnesses were restricted in their travel due to the shutdown.

Original Post – Well, it would appear that some things are still happening during the shutdown. I would recommend, however, that you double check before visiting any of these meetings in person.

October 2

Markup:
The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing to review pending legislation, including a bill on the cybersecurity workforce.
10 a.m., 311 Cannon Building

Hearing:
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an oversight hearing connected to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. USACM Co-Vice Chair Edward Felten will testify.
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing in connection with a draft bill to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

October 4

Meeting:
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will hold a meeting on two national intelligence surveillance programs. USACM Chair Eugene Spafford will speak on one of the panels.
9:15 a.m., Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 17th Street NW, Washington D.C.

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Library of Congress Announces New Mobile App for Braille and Audio Books

The Library of Congress announced today that its Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) system is going mobile with an app for Apple devices now available for download and a forthcoming Android app in development. These mobile apps will allow the 800,000+ institutional and individual users registered with its National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) to access audio and braille books and magazines, as well as music, on their mobile devices.

The Library of Congress anticipates a “surge of downloading” with the introduction of these mobile apps because many NLS users with smartphones have requested access through mobile apps. The Library of Congress also anticipates a surge in demand based on the proliferation and availability of mobile devices for consumers that offer relatively high functionality and built-in accessibility at relatively low costs. To help entice users to make the switch to digital downloads, the Library of Congress continues to add new content daily to BARD’s expanding repository. Currently among the 50,000 digital items is a large searchable collection of Web-Braille books for users with a refreshable braille display.

Eventually, the Library of Congress expects digital distribution to replace its cassette-based audio books, which have been used for more than 35 years but ceased production three years ago in the switch to digital formats. Production of the “obsolete” cassette machines for reading the cassettes ended six years ago.

The Library of Congress told Congress last year that 85 percent of NLS users still rely on door-to-door mail delivery of cassette books and digital talking-books on cartridges and NLS-provided machinery to play them.

For more information about the new BARD mobile app for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, read today’s Library of Congress press release.

For more information about the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) provided by the Library of Congress, visit http://www.loc.gov/nls/

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USACM Provides Input On Next Version Of Open Government National Action Plan

As part of the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative, it released a National Action Plan in September 2011. Based in part on its progress on the first version of the Plan, the government is working on version 2.0, and requested input from the public. USACM submitted comments yesterday.

A summary of our recommendations to the government for the next edition of the plan:

  • Design tools and plans for increasing access to information with both businesses and the public in mind
  • Evaluate progress on the Action Plans regularly and share that information with users
  • Greater public participation strategies that involve computing also need appropriate social structures to succeed in attracting participants outside of developers and technologists
  • Encourage feedback and public participation tools that can facilitate multi-directional communication and/or collaboration
  • Responding to disasters and similar events would be a good area to encourage activity through prizes and/or competitions
  • More datasets should be released through ‘research.data.gov’ that can be used for researchers and the public

There is no set deadline for when National Action Plan version 2.0 will be released.

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Cybersecurity Framework Now At Discussion Draft Stage

While cybersecurity legislation slowly inches forward in Congress, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is moving faster in implementing its responsibilities under the recent Executive Order on cybersecurity. Last month we noted that NIST circulated a draft outline of the Cybersecurity Framework (H/T Nextgov).

Now there’s a discussion draft of the actual Framework. Developed in time for the latest public workshop on the Framework, the discussion draft is intended to help firms and others involved in critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Besides compiling relevant best practices, standards and guidelines, the framework provides tools for companies to measure where they are in terms of cybersecurity and where they need to go.

NIST identified several areas for improvement for future iterations of the Framework:

  • Authentication
  • Automated Indicator Sharing
  • Conformity Assessment
  • Data Analytics
  • International Aspects, Impacts, and Alignment
  • Privacy
  • Supply Chains and Interdependencies

To get the quickest snapshot of how the Framework might work, check out Appendix A, the Framework Core. It describes functions, categories, subcategories, and informative references that NIST sees as crossing across all sectors of critical infrastructure.

The timeline remains unchanged. A final draft is due next February, and a draft with formal comment should be released in the fall.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of September 16

September 18

Markup:

The Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will review two bills related to cybersecurity.

September 19

Hearing:

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold confirmation hearings for Jo Handelsman (Associate Director for Science, Office of Science and Technology Policy/OSTP), Robert Simon (Associate Director for Energy and Environment, OSTP), and Kathryn Sullivan (Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
10 a.m., 253 Russell Building

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2nd Anniversary Forum of the America Invents Act on September 16

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host the America Invents Act (AIA) Second Anniversary Forum on Monday, September 16, 2013, from 1-5 pm ET at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. A live webcast will be available.

USPTO patent experts and administrative patent judges will discuss recent updates, trends in filings, how to avoid pitfalls, progress on improving patent quality, and options for application processing, including preissuance submissions, supplemental examination, and micro-entity discount.

A panel discussion with the patent judges from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will cover post-grant review, inter partes review, and covered business method review.

To get a good seat, arrive early. The forum is free with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

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FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Speaker Series: Yevgen Borodin

The FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Speaker Series will feature Yevgen Borodin on “Improving Accessibility for the General Public” on September 12, 2013, at 10 am EDT. The presentation will be followed by accessible technology demonstrations in the FCC’s Technology Experience Center. The event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration for in-person attendance is not required but highly encouraged. A live webcast will be available.

Dr. Borodin, a Research Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stony Brook University in New York, will use the example of web accessibility to explore how accessibility is usually incorporated after-the-fact and how assistive tools have lagged behind the latest innovations. He then will discuss how to shift the paradigm to strategies that incorporate accessibility by design, such that technologies are universally accessible from the start.

In 2007, he won the first place Graduate Research award in the ACM Student Research Competition for his research on “HearSay: Context-Directed Non-Visual Web Browser.”

The technology demonstrations in the FCC’s Technology Experience Center will include:

  • Yevgen Borodin will demonstrate: (a) Capti Narrator, a web browser assistant that creates a list of articles containing the extracted main content of web pages; (b) Voiceye, a system for creating and scanning barcodes; and (b) IVEO, an interactive learning system.

  • John Carlin of Ai Squared will demonstrate the ability to magnify hardcopy printed materials or to transform them to speech using optical camera recognition and ZoomReader for iOS or ZoomText ImageReader for Windows.

  • Patrick Timony of the DC Public Library will demonstrate accessibility features of iOS devices.

  • Gregg Vanderheiden of Raising the Floor will demonstrate the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII), a cloud-based approach to personalizing user interfaces.

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U.S. Access Board Public Meeting on September 11

The U.S. Access Board, an independent federal agency, will hold its regular public Board Meeting on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The meeting will be accessible to persons with disabilities.

In the morning, the Board will receive an overview of the new U.S. Access Board website, which has been designed with the forthcoming “Section 508 Refresh” accessibility standards and guidelines in mind.

In the afternoon, the Board will consider ad hoc committee reports on self-service transaction machines and information and communications technologies. The ad hoc committees will be meeting on September 9 and 10, but those meetings are closed to the public.

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USACM Submits Comments to the FCC on Accessibility Waiver Request for E-Readers

USACM today submitted comments to the FCC on a request by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers to exempt e-readers from the accessibility requirements under the advanced communication provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).

Congress passed the CVAA to help ensure that people with disabilities are able to utilize the Internet-based communications technologies of the 21st century, including mobile devices and technologies. The law allows the FCC to waive the accessibility requirements for features, functions, or classes of equipment “designed primarily for purposes other than using advanced communications services.” Advanced communications services under the CVAA include interconnected VoIP services, non-interconnected VoIP services, electronic messaging services, and interoperable video conferencing services.

Here, the Coalition seeks a waiver for e-readers, as a class of devices. The Coalition states that “e-readers are devices designed, built, and marketed for a single primary purpose: to read written materials such as books, magazines, newspapers, and other text documents on a mobile electronic device.”

In its public comment, USACM:

  • agrees with the Coalition that e-readers designed primarily for reading meet the waiver eligibility criteria under the CVAA;
  • cautions against distinguishing e-readers from other classes of devices based on screen type, storage capacity, and processing speed;
  • observes that current product lines of e-readers previously demonstrated the technical capability to provide audio;
  • recognizes the value of accessibility to a broad range of users beyond users with disabilities; and
  • recommends a limited-time rather than permanent waiver, should the FCC grant the waiver.

To review the Coalition’s waiver request for e-readers, related documents, and other public comments submitted to the FCC, use the FCC’s electronic comment filing system to search for filings. The Proceeding Number is “10-213.”

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New Report on Computer Science Teacher Certification in the United States

Computer science teacher certification throughout the United States is “deeply flawed” and requires coordinated action by federal and state policymakers, education administrators, and teachers to establish statewide systems and more effective approaches to prepare, support, and credential computer science teachers, according to a new report by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

As pointed out in the report, Bugs in the System: Computer Science Teacher Certification in the U.S., America’s economic future depends on young people discovering computer science. “To make that happen, it must be taught. To teach it, there must be a qualified, valued Computer Science teaching workforce,” the report says.

The U.S. labor data referenced in the report show the increased importance of computer science to students’ prospects for future employment. According to the federal government, computing skills are in demand, and computing jobs will continue to be among the top 10 highest-performing growth areas in the country’s long-term outlook.

Further, we are experiencing a fundamental and long-term shift within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs toward computing careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, when today’s high school students graduate from colleges and universities, at least half of all STEM job openings will be in computing and computing-related fields.

With such a fundamental, long-term shift occurring, states nationwide need to enhance the capacity of educational institutions to provide students with fundamental computer science knowledge and skills.

Yet, the report’s in-depth research into computer science teacher certification in the 50 states and the District of Columbia reveals “confused, disparate and sometimes absurd teacher certification processes” and “confounding processes and illogical procedures—bugs in the system that keep it from functioning as intended.”

To address the critical issues uncovered by the research, the report provides a number of policy recommendations related to the credentialing of computer science teachers, including providing pathways for teachers with prior industry experience, ongoing professional development for teachers, and incentives for school administrators to offer rigorous computer science courses taught by qualified computer science teachers.

Read the full-text of the report and the related CSTA blog post online.

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USPTO Software Partnership Meeting on October 17

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold a Software Partnership Meeting on October 17, 2013, at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law in Berkeley, California to provide a forum for the software and high-tech communities to hear about governmental activities to improve software-related patent policies and examinations and to have a discussion on possible ways to improve claim clarity through the use of glossaries.

To help facilitate the discussion, the USPTO has provided a set of questions related to claim clarity, the current use of glossaries, and the potential structure of a possible glossary pilot program. Written comments in response to those questions should be submitted to the USPTO by October 3, 2013.

The meeting also will explore the written feedback the USPTO received from the prior roundtables held in February in California and Washington, D.C. and will provide an overview of recommended actions identified by the White House Task on High-Tech Patent Issues in June 2013. USACM was among several stakeholders who submitted comments to the USPTO in February on possible ways to enhance the quality of software-related patents.

The October 17 meeting is open to the public, but advance registration is required. Requests to attend or to speak must be received by September 27, 2013.

For more information about the October 17 Software Partnership Meeting, see:
http://www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/software_partnership.jsp

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FCC Requests Public Comments on Accessibility Waiver for E-Readers

The FCC is accepting public comments on a request by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers to exempt e-readers from accessibility requirements applicable to “advanced communications services” under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and its implementing regulations. The deadline for public comments is September 3, 2013.

Congress passed the CVAA to help ensure that people with disabilities are able to utilize the Internet-based communications technologies of the 21st century, including mobile devices and technologies. Advanced communications services include interconnected VoIP services, non-interconnected VoIP services, electronic messaging services, and interoperable video conferencing services.

The law allows the FCC to waive the accessibility requirements for features, functions, or classes of equipment designed primarily for purposes other than using advanced communications services. Here, the Coalition states that “e-readers are devices designed, built, and marketed for a single primary purpose: to read written materials such as books, magazines, newspapers, and other text documents on a mobile electronic device.”

For more information, see the FCC announcement:
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0801/DA-13-1686A1.pdf

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USACM Provides Feedback on Non-Web Accessibility Guidelines

USACM submitted feedback to the W3C on the latest draft of the “WC3 Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies.” The proposed guidance document seeks to provide informative guidance on how the international standards for web accessibility, known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, can be interpreted and applied to non-web documents, software, and technologies.

As indicated in the final draft, several requirements of the international web accessibility standards and their success criteria apply verbatim to non-web ICT. Several other requirements comply: (a) by replacing “web” with “non-web document(s) and software”; (b) by adding “video description” and “descriptive narration” when the criteria refers to “audio description”; or (c) by adding “accessibility features of software” when the criteria refers to “user agents” and/or “assistive technologies.”

Detailed guidance is given for WCAG 2.0 requirements where applying them may pose challenges, such as resizing with assistive technologies, keyboard interfaces, parsing, and custom user interface components.

The document, if adopted by the W3C, will become a “Working Group Note” published by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

For more information, see the working draft of the WC3 Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies at:
http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-wcag2ict-20130711/

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NIST Working On Big Data Technology Roadmap

On September 30, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will host a Big Data workshop at its headquarters in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The focus of the workshop is to continue the work of the NIST Big Data Working Group in developing a Big Data Technology Roadmap. Registration for the conference is free and open to the public, but must be done by September 23.

The Big Data Working Group was established in June to start work on the Technology Roadmap. The Roadmap is intended to help determine the appropriate “analytic techniques, technology infrastructure, and data usage” to support the secure adoption of Big Data. Defining Big Data will be an important part of this work, and definitions is one of the major products the Working Group will have available in advance of the September 30 workshop.

The workshop is not the beginning of the NIST project, but perhaps the end of the beginning. Public feedback to the initial draft of the Roadmap will inform further drafts and possibly influence subsequent deadlines.

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Federal CIO Council Announces Re-Organization

The Federal CIO Council is the primary cross-agency group for information technology management in the government. On Friday the Council announced a major reorganization.

Now led by the federal Chief Information Officer, the Council coordinates federal IT management policies, and works with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Office of Management and Budget as appropriate to develop standards in this area.

As it currently stands, the CIO Council is organized under six committees and 29 subcommittees. The new structure would have just three committees and appears to shift more activity to the Council’s Executive Committee and staff. The committees are Innovation, portfolio management, and information security and identity management. Besides the three committees, the Council would engage with ‘Communities of Practice’ in areas including privacy, accessibility, and workforce to help develop appropriate policies. There will be 14 members of the Executive Committee, with two representatives from each of the committees, and one from each community of practice. There will be a vice-chair of the Council, but that person has yet to be named.

Read the full reorganization plan and the associated blog post online.

Posted in Accessibility, Digital Government, Privacy and Security | Comments closed

USPTO Patent Public Advisory Committee Meeting – August 15, 2013

The USPTO Patent Public Advisory Committee will hold its quarterly meeting on Thursday, August 15, 2013, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia. The meeting is open to the public. The meeting will also be available by WebEx.

Agenda items include:

  • America Invents Act Training Update
  • Legislative Update
  • Patent End-to-End (PE2E) System
  • International Harmonization
  • Finance/Budget Update/Sequestration

The meeting details and full agenda are available at: http://www.uspto.gov/about/advisory/ppac/20130815-ppac-quarterly-meeting.jsp

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USACM Welcomes Claudia Gordon as White House Public Engagement Advisor for the Disability Community

The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council welcomes President Obama’s appointment of Claudia Gordon as the new White House Public Engagement Advisor for the Disability Community.

Ms. Gordon previously served as the Special Assistant to the Director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, a Senior Policy Advisor within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and manager of the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities. She also previously worked as a consulting attorney with the National Council on Disability.

“Accessibility to cyberspace and its content and services is more important than ever. I look forward to finding opportunities for ACM to reinforce Claudia Gordon’s efforts to improve access to computer-based systems,” said Vint Cerf, ACM President.

“Ms. Gordon has a long-standing reputation for actively engaging in policy approaches that make tangible differences in the lives of people with disabilities. I am confident that she will drive forward initiatives that translate ideas into government action, improve public awareness, and increase public involvement in federal disability policies,” said Jonathan Lazar, a member of the USACM Accessibility Committee.

Her appointment comes as the federal government is in its final stages of a multiyear effort, known as the Section 508 Refresh, to revise the regulations governing accessibility requirements for government websites under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the guidelines governing equipment under Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. Later this year, the U.S. Department of Justice anticipates moving forward with its rulemaking to address web accessibility regulations for state and local governments under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Throughout her career, Ms. Gordon has taken the lead to ensure broader and more inclusive approaches. We look forward to working with her, her office, and the Administration to improve the lives of people with disabilities by advancing the accessibility of information and communication technologies,” said Harry Hochheiser, Chair of the USACM Accessibility Committee.

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The Executive Branch Works On Implementing the Cybersecurity Executive Order

Since the President issued an Executive Order on cybersecurity information sharing back in February, several groups have worked on implementing parts of that order. The Senate Commerce Committee has also gotten in on the act, recently approving a bill that would put some parts of the executive order into law.

While a draft of the Cybersecurity Framework required by the Executive Order won’t be out until later this year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been working hard in gathering input on what practices, procedures, tools and other guidance should be part of it. NIST released a draft outline Read More »

Posted in Privacy and Security | Comments closed

USACM Outlines Limitations Of Computing For Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) is an independent federal agency established based on recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. It’s responsible for reviewing executive branch actions in relation to counterterrorism activities to ensure that privacy and civil liberties concerns are part of the conversation in developing and reviewing such policies.

In light of recent disclosures concerning National Security Agency (NSA) electronic surveillance activities, the PCLOB held a workshop on July 9 to review legal, technical and policy issues surrounding two programs. One focused on collection and search of telephone metadata (things like the number called, length of call, etc.) and the other on the collection of electronic communication information. As part of the public record for this workshop, USACM submitted comments to the Board.

In its comments, USACM outlined technical issues for the programs, as well as how to effectively deal with the fallibility of computing systems in the context of these programs. Given the nature of the information that underlies much of this discussion, the comments are necessarily at a high level.

In the letter, USACM highlighted the challenges involved in successfully implementing policies that would help limit access to and use of the collected information. It recommends a systems engineering analysis for the collection and analysis structures utilized through the surveillance programs. This would include technical requirements, operational assumptions and relevant data collection and use practices. That would help the agency better understand the trade-offs involved in balancing national security concerns, privacy and civil liberties principles, and the technical capabilities of the NSA.
Read More »

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USACM Statement to the House Ways and Means Committee on Intellectual Property Provisions in Trade Agreements

The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council today submitted a statement to the House Ways and Means Committee as part of the record for the hearing on “President Obama’s Trade Policy Agenda with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.”

The hearing touched upon major trade negotiations underway, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), a possible Trade In Services Agreement (TISA), and an expansion of the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

The statement identifies three principles for the U.S. government to consider when negotiating provisions relevant to intellectual property protection and enforcement within trade agreements: balancing IP protections with public and private rights, promoting innovation and competition, and preserving the data privacy of individuals.

During the hearing, U.S. Trade Representative Froman said that intellectual property is a “critical part of our economy,” including a critical part of our relationship with the EU. He also said that the “digital economy of digital trade is playing an increasing role” in all trade agreements.

Relevant to the three principles within the USACM statement, Froman addressed intellectual property protections and enforcement generally, the role of innovation, and the data privacy of individuals.

1. Balance Intellectual Property Protection with Relevant Private and Public Interests
Froman broadly discussed intellectual property protections and enforcement. He said that the TTIP provides an opportunity to raise and strengthen IP rights and enforcement for the global community. He did not directly address concerns about ensuring fair uses of intellectual property, as raised in the USACM statement.

2. Promote Innovation and Competitiveness
The USACM statement encourages public policies that foster and encourage a wide variety of technological advancements, approaches, and systems to emerge within a competitive marketplace. Consistent with that principle, Froman said that “as technology develops and the Cloud develops, we want to make sure that businesses are able to structure their operations in a way that makes maximum sense.” He also said cross-border data flows and services are a particular focus of the TPP.

3. Preserve Data Privacy of Individuals
Consistent with the USACM position on the importance of balancing commercial and government needs with protecting the personal data privacy of individuals, Froman stated that it is important to “strike the right balance” with privacy concerns.

Posted in Intellectual Property | Comments closed

Internet Policy Task Force Releases New Green Paper on Copyright Policy

The U.S. Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force today released a green paper titled “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.” The 122-page report provides an analysis of copyright policy since 1995, recommends possible regulatory and legislative actions, and identifies specific policy issues for further discussion and public input. The USPTO and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) provided input to the report.

The Internet Policy Task Force reiterated the Obama Administration’s call for action to allow cell phone unlocking by consumers. Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (H.R. 1123). The bill would restore and extend an exemption to the DMCA to allow consumers, as well as third-parties acting at the request of a consumer, to unlock cell phones for the purpose of allowing the consumer to switch network providers.

The Internet Policy Task Force also recommended the following additional legislative reforms:

  • Updating the libraries and archives exemption in Section 108
  • Updating the Chafee Amendment to ensure access to copyrighted works by people with disabilities
  • Amending the Copyright Act to ensure illegal audio and video streaming can be punished similarly to other types of criminal reproduction and distribution
  • Examining potential legislative adjustments to address mass digitization

The Internet Policy Task Force identified several policy issues for further exploration, discussion, and public input. Here are some of the topics in the report:

  • Fostering voluntary best practices for online enforcement
  • Creating inclusively developed fair use guidelines for various user communities
  • Improving the operation of the DMCA notice and takedown systems
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of voluntary private sector initiatives to combat online infringement
  • Assessing the role for the government to improve the online licensing environment, including access to comprehensive public and private databases of rights information

The Internet Policy Task Force identified five issues in the process of being interpreted by the courts:

  • The meaning of “public performance” in context of new video streaming technologies
  • What constitutes temporary reproductions
  • The scope of distribution rights online
  • The scope of DMCA safe harbors, particularly with respect to repeat infringers
  • The application of “old” contracts to the new digital economy

The full-text of the “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy” is available at:
http://www.uspto.gov/news/publications/copyrightgreenpaper.pdf

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Witness List for Thursday’s Hearing on “Innovation in America: The Role of Technology”

House Hearing on “Innovation in America: The Role of Technology”
House Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
Thursday, August 1, 2013, 9:30 a.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building – Room 2141
A live webcast will be available.

Witnesses:

Danae Ringelmann
Founder & Chief Customer Officer, Indiegogo

Jim Fruchterman
President and CEO, Benetech

Nathan Seidle
CEO, SparkFun Electronics, Inc.

Rakesh Agrawal
Founder & CEO, SnapStream Media

Van Lindberg
VP, Intellectual Property, Rackspace

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The Week Ahead: Congress to Hold Hearings on Copyright and Patents

Four hearings on Capitol Hill this week will focus on intellectual property issues related to cellphone unlocking, standard essential patents, copyright, and cross-border intellectual property rights under a new trade agreement.

Tuesday, July 30

Senate Hearing on “Standard Essential Patent Disputes and Antitrust Law”
Senate Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
Tuesday, July 30, 10 a.m. ET
Dirksen Senate Office Building – Room 226
A live webcast will be available.
Witnesses:

  • A. Douglas Melamed, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Intel Corp
  • Donald J. Rosenberg, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Qualcomm
  • Suzanne Munck, Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property, Deputy Director, Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • John D. Kulick, Ph.D., Chair, Standards Association Board, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Wednesday, July 31

House Markup of H.R. 1123, The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act
House Judiciary Committee
Wednesday, July 31, 10 a.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building – Room 2141

Thursday, August 1

House Hearing on “Innovation in America: The Role of Technology”
House Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
Thursday, August 1, 2013, 9:30 a.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building – Room 2141
A live webcast will be available.
Witnesses: To be announced.

House Hearing on “The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Outlook and Opportunities”
House Foreign Affairs Committee
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
Thursday, August 1, 2013, 1:30 p.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building – Room 2200
A live webcast will be available.
Witnesses:

  • Edward F. Gerwin, Jr., President, Trade Guru LLC
  • Amgad Shehata, Vice President, International Public Affairs, United Parcel Service
  • Steven Metalitz, Counsel, International Intellectual Property Alliance
  • Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 29

July 30

Markup:
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will review pending legislation. Scheduled for consideration is a new cybersecurity bill introduced last week.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

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Congress to Consider Copyright This Week

Two U.S. House of Representatives committees will consider copyright issues at three hearings this week.

 

Markup of H.R. 1123: The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act
House Judiciary Committee
Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 10 a.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building – Room 2141

The full Committee will consider and markup H.R. 1123, the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act.” The bill would repeal the DMCA exemption decision of 2012, replace it with the prior exemption, and call upon the Librarian of Congress to consult and determine whether to include other categories of wireless devices beyond telephone handsets, e.g. tablets. Committee Chairman Goodlatte has offered an amendment that would add clarifications for the unlocking at the discretion of the purchaser and require a GAO study and report on the issues. See my previous blog post for highlights from the Committee’s hearing in June on H.R. 1123.

 

Hearing on “Innovation in America: The Role of Copyrights”
House Judiciary Committee – Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
Thursday, July 25, 2013, 9:30 a.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building – Room 2141
A live webcast will be available.

This hearing is part of the ongoing exploration by the Committee into potential copyright reforms. For additional background, see the May 16th hearing on the Copyright Principles Project (CPP), a project first convened in 2006 by Professor Pamela Samuelson at Berkeley Law School to discuss the diverse perspectives on copyright issues and the need for comprehensive reform to respond to technological advances, new business models, and innovative and emergent uses of copyrighted works.

 

Hearing on “The U.S.-E.U. Free Trade Agreement: Tipping Over the Regulatory Barriers”
House Committee on Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade
Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:45 a.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building – Room 2123
A live webcast will be available.

This hearing will focus on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement between the United States and the European Union. The background memo mentions intellectual property rights. Scheduled witnesses include Dean C. Garfield, the President and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, and Jean Halloran, on behalf of Consumers Union and the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 22

July 23

Hearing:
The Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on cybersecurity and Asia.
2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Building

July 24

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on health care and information technology.
10:30 a.m., 215 Dirksen Building

July 25

The Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee continues its series of hearings on data centers and cloud computing.
9:30 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Building

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the work between the private sector and the National Institute for Standards and Technology on cybersecurity.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

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Presidential Commission on Election Administration Continues Listening Tour

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, established by Executive Order earlier this year, has held two official meetings and been present at other meetings of election officials. While the first meeting, held June 21st in Washington, D.C. was a brief affair, the June 28th meeting in Miami was a full day affair, listening to elected officials, advocacy groups, and motivated voters from all over Florida.

USACM was one of many organizations (and individuals) who submitted comments to the commission, with an emphasis on the roles election technologies can play in election administration. Our comments encouraged the Commission to take advantage of technical expertise as it gathers information and prepares its report. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for August 8 in Denver. Additional meetings are scheduled for September 5th in Philadelphia and September 20th in Ohio, though per the Commission charter, resources are budgeted for an average of two meetings a month for 12 months, with the Commission expected to operate for no more than a year.

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FCC Open Commission Meeting on July 19

The FCC will discuss the IP Speech-to-Speech Relay program and a report on the implementation of Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) at its Open Commission Meeting this Friday, July 19, 10:30 am-noon ET. A live webcast will be available.

According to the meeting announcement, the accessibility topics will be the last two agenda items:

Agenda Item 4: Speech-to-Speech and Internet Protocol (IP) Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay Services (CG Docket No. 08-15); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities (CG Docket No. 03-123): The Commission will consider a Report and Order addressing mandatory minimum standards applicable to the Speech-to-Speech Relay program and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking input on ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this program.

Agenda Item 5: Update on the Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA): In recognition of the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, together with the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Media Bureau, will provide a report on the Commission’s implementation of the CVAA since its passage in 2010.

Additional information about the July 19 meeting is available at:
http://www.fcc.gov/open-commission-meeting-july-2013

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Library of Congress Legislative Data Challenge: Markup of U.S. Legislation in Akoma Ntoso

The Library of Congress invites the public to participate in its first Legislative Data Challenge. The winning solution will provide the most effective representation of four specific bills of the U.S. Congress using the international legislative information standard Akoma Ntoso, as well as a discussion of the suitability of that standard to represent U.S. legislative data. The winning individual or team will present the solution at a Legislative Data Forum in Washington, D.C. to be hosted by the Library of Congress.

The challenge is part of a broader initiative to develop international data exchange standards for legislative data, as mentioned by Robert Reeves, the Deputy Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Gherardo Casini, the Head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Office and Executive Coordinator of the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, at the 2013 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference.

The Akoma Ntoso standards and guidelines are used by many countries for legislative and legal documents. These standards and guidelines define common formats for data interchange and open access, and schema for data, metadata, citations, and cross-references. One of the goals of Akoma Ntoso, an initiative of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is to foster improved search, interpretation, and visualizations of law and legislative data.

To learn more about the Library of Congress Legislative Data Challenge, visit:
http://akoma-ntoso-markup.challenge.gov

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House Committee on Ways and Means Invites Public Submissions on President Obama’s Trade Policy Agenda

The House Committee on Ways and Means is accepting public statements for the record for Thursday’s hearing on President Obama’s trade policy agenda. The deadline for public submissions is Thursday, August 1.

Thursday, July 18

House Hearing on “President Obama’s Trade Policy Agenda with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman”
House Committee on Ways and Means
Thursday, July 18, 9 a.m.
Longworth House Office Building – Room 1100
A live webcast will be available.

According to the hearing announcement, the focus of the hearing will be an exploration of current and future trade issues, such as:

(1) developing and passing of Trade Promotion Authority legislation;
(2) seeking to conclude a successful Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement this year;
(3) negotiating with the European Union for a comprehensive and ambitious trade and investment agreement;
(4) negotiating a Trade in International Services Agreement that increases access for all sectors of our economy;
(5) improving our important trade relationship with major emerging economies like China, India and Brazil, and addressing their trade barriers;
(6) ensuring appropriate trade enforcement efforts;
(7) advancing WTO negotiations, including “post-Doha” issues at the WTO such as Information Technology Agreement (ITA) expansion, a trade facilitation agreement and an agreement for trade in environmental goods and services;
(8) negotiating Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with China and India and exploring new BITs and investment opportunities; and
(9) establishing long-term, closer ties with important trading partners.

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House Hearing on Mens Rea in Federal Criminal Law on July 19

Friday, July 19

House Hearing on “Mens Rea: The Need for a Meaningful Intent Requirement in Federal Criminal Law”
House Judiciary Committee
Friday July 19, 9 a.m.
Rayburn House Office Building Room 2237
A live webcast will be available.

This hearing is related to the activities of the Committee’s Over-Criminalization Task Force of 2013, co-chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).

Scheduled witnesses include: John S. Baker Jr., Ph.D., Visiting Professor, Georgetown Law School, Visiting Fellow, Oriel College, University of Oxford, Professor Emeritus, LSU Law School; and Norman L. Reimer, Executive Director, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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Highlights from Clayton Lewis on “The Future of Inclusive Design”

At the FCC today, Computer Science Professor Clayton Lewis asserted a new paradigm for accessibility is emerging and that this paradigm may require changes to public policies related to accessibility, such as Section 508, and intellectual property laws.

Professor Lewis, a member of the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council, kicked off today’s FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Speaker Series with his presentation on “The Future of Inclusive Design.” The day also included accessible technology presentations and demonstrations in the FCC’s Technology Experience Center.

Lewis framed the discussion in terms of the “Raman Principle,” how to push beyond the Raman Principle, and the needed changes in public policy to respond to the new paradigm.

The Raman Principle

The Raman Principle, named after computer scientist T.V. Raman, Ph.D. at Google Research, states: “The way to think about the visual system is as a way to ask questions about a spatial database. If you give someone another way to ask the questions and get the answers, they don’t need vision.”

This approach provides access to the underlying information and changes the way we think about accessibility. “This idea shifts our focus from making presentations accessible to making content accessible,” explained Lewis. Think about screen readers, he suggested. Although screen readers make certain types of information more accessible, screen readers create a direct path to a non-visual presentation that bypasses the visual presentation. We should provide access to the underlying activity and content, he asserted.

“We have accessibility problems everywhere today because people are creating presentations rather than content,” he said. “We have to replace presentation-oriented tools by content-oriented ones.”

An example of this shift is the increased online access to government content through application programming interfaces (APIs) and bulk downloads. Such access provides programmatic access to content rather than presentations of content. How do we then provide technical accessibility to the content? Third-party providers create and make available clients. In the future, clients might be increasingly tailored to particular users, in keeping with the overall trend away from mass production to mass customization.

Lewis asserted that this model of programmatic accessibility supported by clients not only changes the way we think about accessibility but also has the potential to provide superior access. For example, commands can traverse the logical structure, not just the layout order, and thereby leverage the underlying semantic structure. He provided an example of data flow programming to illustrate his point.

The outcome is a transformation in the approach to providing content so that people with disabilities can easily access the information. He suggested that this new paradigm supports non-visual “visual” programming and the non-visual “visualization” of data.

Further, he sees a broader strategic trend, dating back decades, that has given us today’s difficulties with Section 508 compliance. That trouble can be summed up in one acronym, “WYSIWYG.” Although John Seely Brown controversially warned the computing and disability communities back in 1984 that WYSIWYG was the wrong way to go that warning largely went unheeded, according to Lewis. Even Lewis thought Brown was very mistaken at the time. Yet, Lewis said he come to agree with Brown over the years because WYSIWYG doesn’t allow for more abstract ideas not tied to the presentation.

He observed that one “underexploited” opportunity to improve accessibility is to make content management systems more inclusive by design.

Pushing the Raman Principle

How does the Principle apply when we think about the inclusion of people with cognitive disabilities, he asked. The traditional paradigm is to have a linear progression from task to web page to user understanding. Application of the Raman Principle, he said, would suggest asking the question: “How can we make this task easier to perform?”

Public Policy Challenges

Among the challenges of the increased shift to programmatic access and clients is that government agencies responsible for producing the content might not produce clients. Who then is responsible for accessibility, he asked. Is it solely the providers of the clients? Since clients are developed by non-governmental entities, is government required to make sure they are accessible?

The question isn’t just theoretical, he asserted. He illustrated his point with the example of the Department of Veterans Affairs Blue Button, which allows veterans to download their personal health information in plaintext. The government does not provide clients to view the content. He originally thought it was a horrible idea because it provided no context to make it usable, but he then realized that clients would do that. Yet, does this foster accessibility, particularly given that the Veteran’s Administration is neither providing nor funding the creation of clients. He observed that the VA likely met their Section 508 compliance obligations because that responsibility lies with the clients to be accessible. Since those are developed by non-governmental entities, he said, the government doesn’t need to make sure they are accessible.

Accordingly, there is a new division of labor and responsibility. The government produces the content and makes that content available in “open and machine-readable” data formats. Lewis didn’t mention it, but President Obama issued an executive order on May 9, 2013 to require agencies to comply with a federal Open Data Policy and to make data available in machine-readable formats.

Public Policy Responses

To respond to the challenges of the new paradigm, public policy will need to address not only accessibility, such as Section 508, but also intellectual property laws. The Raman Principle, he said, suggests the conflict with intellectual property rights, particularly copyright, might get even worse. He recommended that someone within a government agency should convene a roundtable or similar forum to discuss these issues.

He said we also need to promote advances in software tools. He referred to the Global Public Infrastructure Initiative and FluidProject.org as examples of efforts to foster flexible, inclusive, innovative, and customizable approaches. He reiterated the challenge put forth a few years ago by Jamal Mazrui, the FCC Deputy Director of the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, at a similar convening of experts and interested stakeholders at the FCC. “The Mazrui Challenge” calls for more software tools for use by developers with disabilities to create apps and software programs for people with similar disabilities.

Additional information and related materials from today’s FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Speaker Series are available at:
http://www.fcc.gov/events/accessibility-innovation-initiative-speaker-series-presents-clayton-lewis-future-inclusive-de

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 15

July 17

Hearing:
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on health information technology
10 a.m., 215 Dirksen Building

Subcommittees of the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a joint hearing on information sharing in the new health care law.
9:30 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Building

July 18

Hearing:
The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on consumer data protection.
11 10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building

The Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on the president’s recent cybersecurity executive order.

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Accessible Technology Demos at the FCC on July 16

Tomorrow, the FCC will feature demonstrations of accessible technology solutions from 12:30 to 3 p.m. in its Technology Experience Center. The event is part of the FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Speaker Series.

As a reminder, USACM member Professor Clayton Lewis will be kicking off the day with his presentation on “The Future of Inclusive Design Online,” beginning at 10 a.m. A live webcast of his presentation will be available.

The accessibility technology demonstrations will include:

  • APIs and developer tools to leverage the information in the FCC’s Accessibility Clearinghouse
  • A cloud-based service that automatically corrects web accessibility problems on a web page and displays the corrected page to the user in real time
  • Tools and services for captioning of video and audio
  • A cloud-based infrastructure for analyzing and managing the accessibility of website components

Additional information is available at:
http://www.fcc.gov/events/accessibility-innovation-initiative-speaker-series-presents-clayton-lewis-future-inclusive-de

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FCC Open Internet Advisory Committee Meeting on July 9

The FCC’s Open Internet Advisory Committee will meet tomorrow, Tuesday, July 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT, to discuss issues related to its four working groups: (1) mobile broadband, (2) economic impacts of open internet frameworks, (3) specialized services, and (4) transparency. A live webcast will be available.

At the Committee’s public meeting in May, the group discussed the importance of the FCC’s educational role in the mobile broadband ecosystem, the decreased control of service providers, the difficulty of defining “specialized services,” consumer-related issues, selective throttling of network traffic, and the challenges of labeling programs designed to educate and inform consumers about performance, data caps, and pricing.

Tomorrow’s discussion is anticipated to include an update on the final report for the term, which will draw upon the efforts of the four working groups.

The 21-person committee is led by Harvard Computer Science and Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain as Chair and MIT Senior Research Scientist David Clark as Vice-Chair.

Information about the July 9 meeting is available at:
http://www.fcc.gov/events/open-internet-advisory-committee-meeting-july-9-2013

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 8

July 9

Workshop:
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will hold a public workshop on surveillance programs. Technology experts will be part of at least one panel during the event.
9:30 a.m., Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C.

Hearing:
The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on cyber threats to intellectual property.
10:15 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Building

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US Rejoins World’s Top 5 Countries for Innovation

The United States is one of the five most innovative countries in the world, according to the Global Innovation Index 2013, a hefty 392-page report published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). After being off the top 5 list since 2009, the United States saw “strong increases in software spending and employment in knowledge-intensive services” to climb from being ranked 10th in the world in 2012 to 5th in 2013.

The United States was outranked in the top 10 by, in order: Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The United States beat Finland, Hong Kong (China), Singapore, Denmark, and Ireland.

Before describing the strengths and weaknesses of the United States in the global innovation-driven marketplace and what you can do to help the U.S. retake the top spot, let me first explain how they measured innovation.

What Makes a Country Innovative?
To measure the innovative nature of each country, the Global Innovation Index 2013 uses a framework of seven high-level categories (five inputs and two outputs) covering 84 individual indicators and relying on data from 30 public and private sources. The analysts made adjustments to the framework in 2013. The survey examines 142 economies representing 95% of the world’s population and 99% of the world’s GDP.

    Inputs

  1. Institutions – political, regulatory, business environments
  2. Human capital and research – education, research and development
  3. Infrastructure – ICT, general infrastructure, eco-sustainability
  4. Market sophistication – credit, investment, trade and competition
  5. Business sophistication – knowledge workers, innovation linkages, knowledge absorption

    Outputs

  1. Knowledge and technology outputs – knowledge creation, impact, diffusion
  2. Creative outputs – intangible assets, creative goods and services, online creativity

What Makes the U.S. “Innovative”?
The U.S. is the world leader in research and development and ranks second in the world for its business and market sophistication.

U.S. Innovation Rankings in the World
Business sophistication – 2
Market sophistication – 2
Human capital and research – 6
Knowledge and technology outputs – 7
Institutions – 17
Infrastructure – 17
Creative outputs – 19

• Research and Development
Continued U.S. world leadership in the traditional innovation indicator of research and development is largely attributable to the rankings of the top three U.S. universities. Other indicators for R&D performance included gross expenditure on R&D, where the U.S. ranked 10th, and the number of researchers per million population, where the U.S. was one of 32 countries without data. The analysts opted not to estimate data.

• Business Sophistication
U.S. business sophistication rankings were boosted by the number of patents filed in at least three foreign offices, royalties and licenses as a percentage of service imports, high-tech imports, and the percentage of gross expenditure on research and development financed by business.

• Market Sophistication
U.S. market sophistication rankings were boosted by the ease of getting credit, financial resources provided to the private sector, the ease of protecting investors, the total value of stocks traded, and the number of venture capital deals.

• Individual Indicators
Other indicators contributing to the U.S. regaining its lead as one of the five best-ranked countries included: performance in online government services, computer software spending, GMAT test takers, and the number of five generic top-level domains (gTLDs) registered per population. The five generic domains included com, org, net, biz, and info. The analysts did not include edu or gov. The U.S. tied with Luxembourg, Belize, and Canada for the top spot for the most registered gTLDs per population.

U.S.A. – We’re No. 1! (10% of the time)
The U.S. can celebrate its top honor in the following 8 of the 84 individual indicators:

  • Research and development
  • Computer software spending as a percentage of GDP
  • Government online services
  • Cost of redundancy dismissal, including unemployment protections
  • Total value of stocks traded as a percentage of GDP
  • Number of GMAT test takers (but we ranked 51 in their test scores)
  • Citable documents (H index)
  • Number of registered generic top-level domains (TLDs) per population

U.S.A. – Let’s Take Back the Top Spot!
The U.S. isn’t even in the top 10 for institutions, infrastructure, and creative outputs.

• Institutions
Although the U.S. has a relatively strong regulatory and business environment, the presence of violence and terrorism (44th for political stability), barriers to starting a business (31st), and low ranking in its freedom of the press (29th), contributed to the U.S. ranking 17th in the world under the institutions category.

• Infrastructure
The U.S. received its lowest ranking within the infrastructure category – gross capital formation. Also within infrastructure, the U.S. ranked 74th in the world for its ecological sustainability, which assesses energy use and environmental performance. This low ranking suggests that the U.S. would benefit from energy and environmental growth strategies.

• Creative Outputs
U.S. creative output rankings show intangible assets (86th) are an issue, specifically trademarks. The U.S. ranked in the bottom half of the world for the number of trademarks based on GDP when adjusted by purchasing power parity. Also, the U.S. ranked 43rd in the number of international trademark registrations issued through the Madrid system by country of origin. In contrast, the U.S. ranked in the top 15 for the number of patent applications filed by residents under the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty and the number of patent families filed in at least three foreign countries. The U.S. also ranked in the top 50 for service imports of IP royalty and license fees.

To take the lead again as #1, the U.S. likely would need to work on its exports of computer and information services, ease of paying taxes, ICT access and use, market capitalization, joint venture/strategic alliance deals, and high-tech exports. It also would need to address its lowest rankings.

• Lowest Ranked
Here are the ten individual indicators where the U.S. ranked lowest, with the ranking given:

  1. Domestic trademark registrations – 77
  2. Non-agricultural market access weighted tariff – 77
  3. Graduates in science and engineering – 77
  4. Growth of GDP per worker – 80
  5. Exports of communications, computer, and information services – 84
  6. ISO 14001 environmental certifications – 94
  7. FDI net inflows as a percentage of GDP – 97
  8. ISO 9001 quality certificates/ PP$ GDP/ – 99
  9. Gross tertiary outbound educational enrollment – 122
  10. Gross capital formation as a percentage of GDP – 123

Help Make U.S.A. #1 in 2014
Show your patriotic pride in your country by making edits on Wikipedia entries and uploading your videos to YouTube. Each time you do, your country gets recognized for being innovative.

The full report and online interactive tools are available at:
http://www.globalinnovationindex.org

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USPTO Invites Public Comments on Reducing Online IP Infringement

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invites public input on the effectiveness of voluntary initiatives encouraged by the Obama Administration to reduce online intellectual property infringement. The deadline for public comments is Monday, July 22, 2013.

The USPTO invites input from all interested parties on the processes, data metrics, and methodologies that could be used to assess the effectiveness of cooperative agreements and other voluntary initiatives to reduce infringement. The USPTO additionally welcomes input on the following questions:

1. How should “effectiveness” of cooperative voluntary initiatives be defined?
2. What type of data would be particularly useful for measuring effectiveness of voluntary initiatives aimed at reducing infringement and what would that data show?
3. If the data is not readily available, in what ways could it be obtained?
4. Are there particular impediments to measuring effectiveness, at this time or in general, and if so, what are they?
5. What mechanisms should be employed to assist in measuring the effectiveness of voluntary initiatives?
6. Is there existing data regarding efficacy of particular practices, processes or methodologies for voluntary initiatives, and if so, what is it and what does it show?

Request of the United States Patent and Trademark Office for Public Comments: Voluntary Best Practices Study
78 Federal Register 37210
https://federalregister.gov/a/2013-14702

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