USACM Submits Comments On National Privacy Research Strategy

On October 17, comments closed on a Request for Information from the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program.  Agencies in this program are working on a National Privacy Research Strategy, and sought input from the public.  Specifically, the request asked for input on the privacy objectives that would inform the strategy.  The strategy will emphasize “research directions for privacy-enhancing technologies, designs, and methods to enable privacy-preserving information systems.”

USACM submitted comments in response to the Request for Information.  In those comments, USACM outlined several scenarios that highlight privacy issues that would benefit from additional research.  The comments also recommended including more than one paradigm for evaluating privacy research results.  Focusing on one privacy paradigm (such as economic privacy) to the exclusion of others (like privacy as autonomy) would provide a limited view on the value of research questions and the results of privacy research.

USACM encouraged the use of multi-disciplinary approaches to privacy research questions.  To that end, it also recommended new training for computer science researchers, so that they can better understand how end users experience privacy.  Finally, in commenting on privacy architecture, USACM noted that it’s important to address both software architecture and enterprise architecture.

This Request for Information was the first part of the development of the National Privacy Research Strategy, a process likely to take a few months.  There may be additional opportunities to comment once NITRD has developed a draft or preliminary research strategy.

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Heading Into Midterms, USACM Re-emphasizes Role Of Technology In Elections

With mid-term Congressional elections fast approaching, USACM released a statement to emphasize the importance of voting technology in elections.  It echoes past statements from USACM on voting, including its 2013 remarks to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.  In the statement USACM outlines seven principles needed to effectively protect the accuracy and impartiality of elections:

  • Reliability: Minimize the chances of failures and ensure the success of holding elections for which citizens trust results, whether or not they supported the outcome.
  • Responsiveness: Ensure that voters can register, vote, and be notified of results within the time limits required by the system.
  • Security: Prevent the insertion of users or votes into the system, the removal of votes, or the determination of vote content by unauthorized personnel.
  • Privacy: Protect the identities and votes of system users.
  • Auditing: Allow ballots to be recounted accurately and without revealing voters’ individual choices.
  • Accessibility: Ensure that voting systems, including voting technologies, are accessible and usable for every citizen throughout the voting process.
  • Usability: Ensure validated design of paper and electronic ballots so users can confidently record their intent.

USACM continues to recommend that voting systems:

  • Embody careful engineering, strong safeguards, and rigorous testing in both their design and operation;
  • Enable each voter to inspect a physical (e.g. paper) record to verify that his or her vote has been accurately cast, and to serve as an independent check on the results produced and stored by the system; and
  • Make stored records permanent to enable an accurate recount of the vote.
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USACM Focuses On Roadmap In Cybersecurity Framework Comments

As part of its work on the Cybersecurity Framework (Framework), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sought comments from stakeholders on their experiences with it.  USACM has followed the development of the Framework since the 2013 Executive Order that required it.  We submitted comments on a preliminary outline of the Framework back in April 2013.  Our latest comments re-emphasized a point of our April 2013 comments – the need to minimize the amount of information disclosed.

In our comments, USACM focused on the Roadmap that supports the Framework.  The Roadmap identifies areas for alignment, collaboration, and development that would assist parties in implementing the Framework.  USACM identified areas in the Framework that could inform each other, such as Technical Privacy Standards and Data Analytics.  Additionally, the comments identified autonomous devices (items like a smart meter that rely on networking to function) as an area that should be a priority.  As they can be used in sectors like energy and health care, they could qualify as critical infrastructure.

The comments NIST receives will inform the upcoming workshop it is hosting in Tampa on October 29-30.

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NITRD Agencies To Develop National Privacy Research Strategy

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has asked a steering group in the Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program to lead development of a National Privacy Research Strategy.  As part of this effort, there is a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comment.  Submissions (of no more than 20 pages) must be sent in by October 17.

The call for such a research strategy is informed, per the RFI, from calls for additional research into privacy-enhancing technologies.  The resulting strategy will include research objectives and a framework for organizing ideas intended to address those objectives.  This framework is intended to encourage approaching privacy research questions from a multi-disciplinary perspective, including several disciplines in approaching privacy-enhancing technologies.

There are four main questions/topics in the RFI:

  • Privacy Objectives
  • Assessment Capabilities
  • Mulit-disciplinary Approach
  • Privacy Architectures

While most of these topics are described in general terms, the RFI mentions a ‘responsible use model’ when discussing Privacy Architectures.  This is linked to the Administration’s Big Data report, which was one of the reports cited in the RFI.

It’s worth noting that the RFI specifically states that while social and legal solutions can address concerns over privacy, those tools will not be a focus of the emerging National Strategy.  That will focus on “the research directions for privacy-enhancing technologies, designs, and methods to enable privacy-preserving information systems.”

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U.S. Copyright Office Invites Petitions for 2015 DMCA Rulemaking

The U.S. Copyright Office is accepting petitions for the triennial rulemaking proceedings to determine exemptions to the anti-circumvention prohibitions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The deadline for petitions is November 3.

To help enhance public understanding of the process and its evidentiary requirements, the U.S. Copyright Office has changed the procedures to lower the burden during the first step of submitting a petition. Parties still need to provide a statement on the requested proposed exemption, describing the specific class or category of copyrighted works, the technological protections measures that prevent access, the noninfringing uses that would be facilitated by circumvention, and how the inability to circumvent adversely affects proposed noninfringing uses. However, parties no longer need to submit the full legal and factual support with the initial petition.

Consistent with the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act enacted into law earlier this year, the Copyright Office will consider any proposal for a cellphone unlocking exemption. The Copyright Office invites proposals to expand the unlocking exemption to other wireless devices but urges parties to provide an “appropriate level of specificity,” noting that the exemption may vary across the different types of wireless devices.

The U.S. Copyright Office will consider and consolidate the petitions before publishing the list of proposed exemptions and inviting submissions of legal and evidentiary support. All petitions will be posted online to allow parties to coordinate their efforts in later proceedings.

For additional information, read the Federal Register announcement: Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies.

Posted in Intellectual Property | Comments closed

NIST Will Present Draft Privacy Engineering Objectives

On Thursday, October 2, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a webcast scheduled to present its draft (including a discussion deck) Privacy Engineering Objectives and Risk Model.  The development of these materials has been informed by two Privacy Engineering workshops that NIST co-hosted with the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

The current draft available online was prepared in advance of the second Privacy Engineering workshop, and whatever NIST releases on October 2 may reflect additional changes.  It’s focus is on protecting privacy in the course of unanticipated consequences of normal system behavior.  Malicious actors and attacks can be mitigated through security procedures.

Part of the motivation for this document is to address communications gaps around privacy and the development of tools to measure the effectiveness of privacy practices.  The objectives are not intended to describe a complete privacy risk management framework, as they are just one component of such a model.  NIST intends to add more components over time, but is focused on the objectives and the risk model for now.

Comments are being taken on the draft objectives and risk model until October 15.  They can be sent to privacyeng at nist.gov.

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The Food And Drug Administration Seeks Input On Medical Device Security

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a workshop on medical device cybersecurity for October 21 and 22 in Arlington, Virginia.  Titled “Collaborative Approaches for Medical Device and Health Care Cybersecurity,” the event is intended for a broad audience of stakeholders engaged in health care and public health.  The workshop will be webcast, but if you are planning to attend in person, registration will close by 4 p.m. Eastern on October 14.

As part of the workshop announcement, the FDA issued this Federal Register notice seeking comment.  Whether or not you attend the workshop, the FDA is looking for comments on any aspect of the workshop by November 24.  But for a set of questions connected to the workshop themes, comments are needed by October 7.  Those questions are (HPH means Health Care and Public Health):

  • Are stakeholders aware of the “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity”? If so, how might we adapt/translate the Framework to meet the medical device cybersecurity needs of the HPH Sector?
  • How can we establish partnerships within the HPH Sector to quickly identify, analyze, communicate, and mitigate cyber threats and medical device security vulnerabilities?
  • How might the stakeholder community create incentives to encourage sharing information about medical device cyber threats and vulnerabilities?
  • What lessons learned, case studies, and best practices (from within and external to the sector) might incentivize innovation in medical device cybersecurity for the HPH Sector? What are the cybersecurity gaps from each stakeholder’s perspective: Knowledge, leadership, process, technology, risk management, or others? and,
  • How do HPH stakeholders strike the balance between the need to share health information and the need to restrict access to it?
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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of September 8

Congress has returned from recess, so hearings have resumed.

September 9

Hearing:
The Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a hearing on the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
10 a.m., 311 Cannon Building

September 10

Hearing:
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on cybersecurity and terrorism.
9:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Building

Nomination Hearing:
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing to review the nominations of Matthew Masterson and Christy McCormick to serve as Commissioners of the Election Assistance Commission.
10 a.m., 301 Russell Building

The Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities of the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on cyber operations in the military.
2 p.m., 2212 Rayburn Building

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NIST Second Privacy Engineering Workshop on September 15-16 in San Jose

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), in coordination with the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), will host the Second Privacy Engineering Workshop on September 15-16 in San Jose, California. The workshop will bring together legal experts, system designers, privacy engineers, and other privacy professionals from government, industry, academia, and civil society to discuss definitions, objectives, and the privacy risk model developed during the first workshop held in April. NIST will consider feedback from this second workshop during the development of an initial report on privacy engineering. Attendance is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required.

For those unable to participate in the workshop, NIST invites written feedback on the following items by September 30:

1. Proposed definition of privacy engineering:

Privacy engineering is a collection of methods to support the mitigation of risks to individuals of loss of self-determination, loss of trust, discrimination and economic loss by providing predictability, manageability, and confidentiality of personal information within information systems.

2. Whether it is constructive to focus on mitigating the following problematic data actions:

  • Appropriation: Personal information is used in ways that exceed an individual’s expectation or authorization
  • Distortion: The use or dissemination of inaccurate or misleadingly incomplete personal information
  • Induced Disclosure: Pressure to divulge personal information
  • Insecurity: Lapses in data security
  • Surveillance: Tracking or monitoring of personal information that is disproportionate to the purpose or outcome of the service
  • Unanticipated Revelation: Non-contextual use of data reveals or exposes an individual or facets of an individual in unexpected ways
  • Unwarranted Restriction: The improper denial of access or loss of privilege to personal information

3. Whether these privacy harms are relevant:

  • Loss of self-determination
    • Loss of autonomy
    • Exclusion
    • Loss of liberty
  • Discrimination
    • Stigmatization
    • Power imbalance
  • Loss of trust
  • Economic loss

4. Whether these context factors are the right ones:

  • The relationship between individuals and the organization that controls the system
  • The extent and frequency of direct interactions between an individual and the system
  • The nature and history of those interactions
  • The range of goods or services that the system offers, and such use by individuals
  • The types of personal information that is foreseeably necessary for the system to process or generate in order to provide the goods or services
  • The level of understanding that reasonable individuals would have of how the system processes the personal information that it contains
  • Information known by the system about the privacy preferences of individuals
  • The extent to which personal information under the control of the system is exposed to public view
  • General user experience with information technologies

Advance registration is required to attend the Second Privacy Engineering Workshop on September 15-16 in San Jose, California. Read the Discussion Draft of the NIST Privacy Engineering Objectives and Risk Model and the 31-slide overview to be discussed at the workshop.

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FCC Roundtables on Open Internet

The FCC will hold a series of Open Internet Roundtables in September and October, including a roundtable on the technological aspects on September 19. These staff-led roundtables aim to discuss policy issues related to the 2014 Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the best approaches to regulatory requirements for fixed and mobile markets. The roundtables will be open to the public and will be streamed live.

Additional details for each roundtable will be posted on the individual event pages.

September 16 – Policy Approaches and Mobile Broadband
September 19 – Effective Enforcement and Technological Aspects
October 2 – Economics of Broadband: Market Success and Market Failures
October 7 – Internet Openness and the Law

As a reminder, the FCC will accept reply comments on the 2014 Open Internet NPRM until September 15. The FCC extended the deadline by three days in response to technical issues that extended the first comment period. To read submitted comments or to submit a reply comment, use WC Docket No. 14-28 in the FCC online filing system.

Want to conduct in-depth analysis of the comments or create visualizations? The FCC provides the 1+ million comments submitted during the first round of comments as six XML files.

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NIST Continues To Take Feedback On The Cybersecurity Framework

(Edited September 4 to focus on NIST activities concerning the Cybersecurity Framework)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has posted a Request for Information on the Cybersecurity Framework, with a deadline for comments of October 10.   Developed and administered by the (NIST), the first version of the Framework was released in February of this year, along with a Roadmap.

NIST is particularly interested in understanding how companies and organizations in all critical infrastructure sectors are approaching the Framework.  The broad categories in the request are:

  • Current Awareness of the Cybersecurity Framework
  • Experiences With the Cybersecurity Framework
  • Roadmap for the Future of the Cybersecurity Framework

NIST is hosting its 6th workshop on the Framework October 29-30 in Tampa.  An agenda is not yet available, but NIST indicates the target office is owners and operators of critical infrastructure and cybersecurity staff.  Registration is available online.

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U.S. Department of Justice Invites Public Comments on Movie Captioning and Audio Descriptions

The U.S. Department of Justice is accepting comments on proposed changes to its regulations for captioning and audio descriptions in movie theaters under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III covers public accommodations and commercial facilities, including movie theaters. The proposed rule provides specific requirements for movie theaters to provide effective communications for patrons with hearing and vision disabilities through access to text-based captions and audio descriptions. Comments are due September 30.

The U.S. Department of Justice proposes to require movie theaters to:

  • Provide closed or open captions and audio descriptions for movies shown with digital cinema systems unless it would result in an “undue burden” of significant difficulty or expense;
  • Make a certain number of captioning and audio devices available for patrons based on a sufficient amount for the number of seats;
  • Train staff on how operate the equipment;
  • Train staff on how to show patrons how to use those devices; and
  • Inform the public about caption and audio availability.

Movie theaters would still be allowed to show movies without captions or audio descriptions if the movies are produced without captions or audio descriptions.

The U.S. Department of Justice also seeks input on setting a compliance date for the few remaining analog screens. In a “Questions and Answers” posting about the proposed rule, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that nearly 94% of movie screens nationwide have converted to digital. One option is to require analog theaters to comply fully within four years from publication of the final rule. Another option is to defer that decision and rulemaking until a later date.

For additional information, read the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations-Movie Theaters; Movie Captioning and Audio Description.”

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White House Invites Public Comments on Strategy for American Innovation

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council invite public input on the 2015 update of the Strategy for American Innovation, which was last updated in 2011. Comments are due by September 23.

Among the 25 questions in the call for comments, the strategy invites input on the Administration’s intellectual property policy. Specific comments are sought on new challenges and opportunities for intellectual property given the increased diversity of models in the digital marketplace, including big data-driven and Internet-enabled innovation. The announcement also invites comments on skilled workforce development, education, and R&D priorities.

For additional information, read an overview of the current Strategy for American Innovation. For specific topics, browse the Table of Contents.

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ACM Fellow Randal Bryant Joins White House Staff To Tackle Big Data

Randal Bryant, University Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, has accepted a temporary assignment to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  Bryant, an ACM Fellow since 2000 and the 1998 recipient of ACM’s Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award, will work on Big Data issues as an adviser to OSTP Deputy Director for Policy Tom Kalil.  His title will be Assistant Director for Information Technology Research and Development, and he expects to work on applications of large-scale information sources to government operations.

Bryant recently completed a decade of service as Dean of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, and has been with the University for 30 years. Bryant’s research is in formal verification of hardware systems, and his Kanellakis Award recognized his work in symbolic model checking.

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White House Launches U.S. Digital Service and Digital Resources

On Monday the White House announced the launch of the U.S. Digital Service.  According to the Administration, the Digital Service is a team of digital experts that will work with agencies to improve and simplify the digital experience for citizens and companies interacting with the government.  It will be led by Mikey Dickerson, who was an integral part of the team that helped revamp the HealthCare.gov website.  He will also serve as Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer.

The Digital Service is comparable to the 18F team at the General Services Administration.  Both are in-house innovation centers, something more commonly found outside of government, but rare in either location.  Formed in April of this year, 18F has a similar purpose to the Digital Service, but places an extra emphasis on open source development (you can peruse their open source repository on GitHub).  They encourage the reuse of government-derived code and reuse other open source code when practical.  To guide others in reuse of government code, 18F released a Contributor’s Guide earlier this week.

In addition to launching the Digital Service, the Administration released two documents intended to help agencies with that digital experience.  The Digital Services Playbook is a baker’s dozen of ‘plays’ derived from best practices in digital services from the private and public sectors.  The plays are sketches, with a checklist and set of questions to help guide the provision of digital services from a very high-level perspective.  The TechFAR Handbook is an iterative document that identifies parts of the Federal Acquisition Regulation that can be used to implement the plays in the Digital Services Playbook.  The current version focuses on agile software development, but subsequent editions will address other areas of IT.

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USACM Comments On Intersection Of Big Data And Consumer Privacy

Yesterday USACM responded to a Request for Comment from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  In response to a recommendation in the Administration’s Big Data report released in May, the NTIA solicited public comment on how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights could support big data.

In its comments, USACM notes that while big data adds to the complexity of limiting data collection, such limits should not be deemphasized.  It’s important to have controls on both the collection and use of data, and innovations, including privacy enhancing technologies, should make it easy for someone without a technical background to apply their data preferences when interacting with a data collector.

Among the USACM recommendations:

  • Use a broadly construed risk-based approach to responsible use that accommodates multiple privacy risk models, and allows designers to accommodate variations in risk and exposure.
  • Attach consumer guidance to data supplied by the consumer only once. Organizations should be responsible for applying the guidance wherever and whenever the data is communicated or used.
  • Systems designers should build reasonably effective deletion capability into the system and document the capability and its limitations.
  • Have sector-independent means of handling data of different levels of sensitivity could help address cost concerns and spur innovation in Big Data by simplifying the set of privacy rules.
  • In addition to proper access and physical security controls, contract language is a practical tool available to organizations that want to discourage attacks against latent information about individuals.

The full set of recommendations is available online, as is our press release.

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USACM Announces New Leadership

ACM President Alex Wolf has appointed Ed Felten as Chair and Stuart Shapiro and Jeremy Epstein as Co-Vice Chairs of the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council. Alex Wolf thanked Eugene Spafford for his 16 years of dedicated service leading USACM as its Chair.

Ed Felten is the Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University and holds the endowed chair title of Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, named for one of the co-designers of the TCP/IP protocol. His research interests include privacy, cybersecurity, technology for government transparency, and Internet policy.

Stuart Shapiro is a Principal Information Privacy and Security Engineer and a member of the Privacy Community of Practice at the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit company performing technical research and consulting primarily for the U.S. government. At MITRE, he has supported a wide range of security and privacy activities involving, among others, critical infrastructure protection, policy frameworks, risk and control assessment, and incident response. In particular, he has led multiple projects in the area of enterprise privacy-enhancing technologies (ePETs) for several government sponsors, focusing in particular on technologies and methodologies for data desensitization (also referred to as anonymization and de-identification).

Jeremy Epstein is Lead Program Officer for the National Science Foundation Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, NSF’s flagship cybersecurity research program. Jeremy is on loan from SRI International, where his research areas are voting system security and software assurance. He is the Associate Editor in Chief of IEEE Security & Privacy magazine, and founder of the Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security.

The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council is chartered as the focal point for ACM’s interaction with U.S. government organizations, the computing community, and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology.

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ACM Europe Council and U.S. Public Policy Council Address Computing Issues in EU-US Free Trade Agreement

The ACM Europe Council and the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council presented a consensus position on policy issues relevant to the computing field to negotiators of a new EU-U.S. free trade agreement. ACM Europe Council Chair Fabrizio Gagliardi delivered the remarks for consideration at the sixth round of negotiations for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement held in July in Brussels.

The proposed treaty addresses a broad range of trade issues between the European Union and the United States. The sixth round focused, in part, on defining the architecture of the intellectual property chapter. The negotiators also discussed e-commerce, trade in goods and services, and opportunities for small and medium enterprises. At the press conference at the conclusion of the negotiating round, U.S. Chief Negotiator Dan Mullaney said that the negotiators are discussing specific text. EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero described this round of negotiations as “highly technical.”

The ACM Europe Council and the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council urged the negotiators to foster innovation of software and computing and to minimize barriers that could impede the economic potential of digital trade and Internet-based services. Nearly 400 stakeholders representing stakeholders in Europe and the United States attended the Stakeholder Forum. ACM was among fifteen stakeholders with dedicated time to present remarks during a session focused on digital services, intellectual property rights, and customs and trade facilitation.

The Stakeholder Forum took place the day before a 2-day session of the Transatlantic Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Working Group, also held in Brussels. EU and U.S. trade officials met to discuss ways to strengthen intellectual property protections and enforcement. The parties agreed to continue to work on policy approaches that will benefit small and medium enterprises while ensuring that intellectual property owners are protected against counterfeit and pirated goods. The Working Group was established in 2005 and serves as a continuing forum for dialogue on intellectual property issues between the United States and the European Union. Its focus areas include customs cooperation, public-private partnerships, and intellectual property protections in third countries. The Working Group will meet again in summer 2015.

More information about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations is available from the European Commission and the U.S. Trade Representative.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of July 14

July 15

Hearing:
The Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on botnets and associated criminal networks.
2:30 p.m., 226 Dirksen Building

July 16

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a hearing on the future of the video marketplace, with an emphasis on the impact of online video.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

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Supreme Court Recognizes Technology Matters

Guest blog post written by Mark Rasch, U.S. Public Policy Council member

The Supreme Court has always had to consider the impact of new technologies on both individuals’ expectations of privacy and ultimately on their rights to be free from “unreasonable” searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. When the telephone was invented, the court had to consider whether listening in on a phone call was a “search” and seizure — since nothing was “seized” the court initially concluded it was not, but later reversed itself. When airplanes were used to fly over people’s houses, or cameras to take pictures of them the court had to consider peoples privacy rights in their own backyards (they have none if the plane is at a “lawful altitude.”) The court has had to consider whether the use of canine technology (a dog sniff) violates privacy rights (airports, OK, traffic stops, OK, at your doorstep, not so much). The court also considered whether the cops can peer into your home with technology (NO for infrared sensors), or follow your movements when you drive (YES with a beeper, NO with GPS installed without a warrant on your bumper, MAYBE with a cell phone).

In the waning days of its term in June, the Court considered the circumstances under which the police can search the cell phone of a person arrested. Under the doctrine of “search incident to a lawful arrest” the cops wanted the authority to conduct as invasive and detailed a search of an arrestee’s cell phone as it could conduct for example of a briefcase in the arrestee’s possession. Just because a cell phone might carry more information, well, that’s your problem for carrying all that data with you.

The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed. While the Court addressed the purposes and scope of the “search incident” doctrine (to protect the cops, and ensure that evidence is not destroyed, and possibly because people arrested have lower privacy rights) the Court found that cell phones were no ordinary container. In fact, the Court said that it wasn’t accurate to call them cell phones — they were really hand-held computers. And not all the data to be “searched” incident to an arrest would be on the phone either — the phone can act as a portal to data stored elsewhere — on a Facebook or Twitter server, a cloud device, or anywhere else. This is much more invasive that just checking out someone’s wallet for a razor blade or betting slips.

What is significant about the decision is not just that the Court recognized that technological advances can impact privacy rights, but also that quantitative changes can create a qualitative impact. There is a huge difference between being able to read a message of mine, or a Facebook posting of mine, and being able to see everything I have ever done. There’s a difference between being able to follow me in a car and know where I am going, and being able to track every place everyone has ever been — and where they are now. Privacy rights are collective, temporal, proximate, and combined. And so is erosion of them. When the Atlanta father was arrested for leaving his child in a car seat on a hot day to die, and the police indicated that his browser history indicated that he had researched leaving a child in a hot car, my question was “when?” A browser history search for a few weeks or months ago is reasonable and relevant. But data may be kept (at least by someone) for decades. The fact that the father may have looked up something of interest to the police years or decades ago is no longer relevant. In fact, after the Atlanta case, I also looked up kids in hot cars (well, actually cases in which people had been convicted or acquitted for kids in hot cars). God forbid this search history becomes relevant later on.

The Court has a long way to go. It will be forced to consider issues like privacy right with respect to drones and micro-drones, cell phone location services, third party doctrine, crowdsourcing, cloud, data aggregation, big data, and how the Internet acts and does not act as a “public space.” But the Founding Fathers never considered a pay phone either. The fact that a unanimous court accepted the fact that a phone is not just a container is heartening. The fact that they had to, not so much.

Mark Rasch is a member of the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council. He is an attorney and author, working in the areas of corporate and government cybersecurity, privacy, and incident response. He is the former Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, and Chief Privacy and Data Security Officer for SAIC.

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U.S. Supreme Court Tells Police to “Get a Warrant” for Cellphone Searches

The U.S. Supreme Court recently unanimously ruled that law enforcement need to obtain a warrant to search a cellphone seized incident to an arrest. The decision addressed two separate warrantless cellphone search cases before the Court – one involving a smartphone and one involving a flip-lid phone. In the new balancing of law enforcement needs and the rights of arrestees, the Court concluded, “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”

The Court was not clearly convinced that a warrantless search might be necessary to prevent potential evidence destruction of data on the cellphone by remote wiping, geofencing, or data encryption. Geofencing is when the contents of the phone are deleted upon crossing some geographic boundary; this is generally achieved through pre-programmed mechanisms that leverage the device’s GPS location information or the WiFi tower location. When discussing the techniques used to destroy or encrypt data, the Court cited the “Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics,” published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in May 2014. The guidelines identify three means to prevent data destruction and encryption, each with tradeoffs for forensics examination: (a) airplane mode, (b) turning off the device, and (c) placing the device in a shielded container, such as a Faraday bag.

Even though the Court asserts a clear rule with a simple answer, warrantless searches of cellphones could still be lawful in certain circumstances. For example, the Court spotlighted the continued applicability of the exigent circumstances exemption, which could allow law enforcement to search the phone immediately without a warrant if they believe an arrestee’s phone is in imminent threat of a data destruction attempt. Presumably, the imminent threat would not be mitigated by disconnecting the cellphone from the network through the “simple” and “reasonable” responses discussed earlier in the opinion. The Court also clarified that law enforcement can disable a phone’s auto-lock security feature to prevent the phone from locking and encrypting data for the purpose of preserving evidence while they obtain the warrant.

“The most significant part of the decision is not the fact that the Supreme Court has limited searches incident to an arrest,” said U.S. Public Policy Council member Mark Rasch. “It’s that it has recognized that data – and digital data in particular – is a different kettle of fish than physical objects and must be treated accordingly. And that’s a big deal. A very big deal.”

Riley v. California; United States. v. Wurie, U.S. Supreme Court Slip Opinion

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FCC Workshop on Accessible Social Media on July 17

The FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative will host an all-day workshop on “Accessing Social Media,” on Thursday, July 17, 2014, from 9 am to 4 PM. The workshop will foster discussion on how to make social media apps, tools, and content more accessible to people with disabilities. Bring your ideas, case studies, and list of best practices to share with others. Technology demonstrations will showcase accessible social media initiatives by industry and government entities.

The meeting will be webcast with live captioning for those unable to attend in person. You can tweet questions, suggestions, and ideas in advance and during the event using hashtag: #ACCSocMedia

For additional information or to register to attend in person, visit: http://www.fcc.gov/events/accessing-social-media

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NIST Seeks Members for Cloud Computing Working Groups

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is looking for individuals from industry, government, and academia to participate in three new cloud computing public working groups: (1) cloud services, (2) federated community cloud, and (3) interoperability and portability. The working groups will address requirements of the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap. The working groups are open to all interested parties.

These new working groups will help provide guidance to federal policy leaders on how to advance effective adoption of cloud computing by the U.S. government. Additional working groups are already addressing security, accessibility, and standards requirements in the Roadmap.

NIST developed the Roadmap to assist government CIOs and other decision makers as they address the challenges of implementing cloud services in the U.S. government in the short and long term. The Roadmap defines high-priority requirements critical to increasing cloud adoption and identifies standards and guidelines for satisfying those requirements. It also recommends collaboration with the cloud computing stakeholder community and standards organizations and coordination with other federal initiatives, including privacy and cybersecurity initiatives.

• Cloud Services Working Group
The Cloud Services Working Group will focus on how to clearly and consistently categorize cloud services under Roadmap Requirement 4. Consistent categorization is intended to help federal agencies and other buyers better understand, evaluate, compare, and select cloud services. A survey conducted by NIST showed cloud providers inconsistently used a wide variety of terms to describe their models and services. This working group will assess the use of terms such as Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Data as a Service, Network as a Service, and more. The working group will perform a study of cloud services and make recommendations as to how to implement more consistent categories.

• Federated Community Cloud Working Group
The Federated Community Cloud Working Group will focus on how to create seamless implementations across multiple cloud environments under Roadmap Requirement 5. This will involve providing guidance on effective ways to integrate across diverse provider environments and public and private cloud environments. Potential areas of focus could include assessing the applicability of grid computing models, identifying how hybrid cloud and cloud broker elements can be leveraged and harmonized, and assessing standardization efforts.

• Cloud Interoperability and Portability Working Group
The Cloud Interoperability and Portability Working Group will focus on identifying issues and characteristics necessary for fostering cloud computing innovation, commonality, and synergism across evolving environments, technologies, and implementations. Interoperability and portability are cross-cutting topics in the Roadmap. The initial focus will be on the types of cloud computing interoperability and portability, the relations and interactions between cloud computing interoperability and portability, the contexts where these elements are relevant to cloud computing and reference architectures, and the common terminology and concepts used to describe interoperability and portability.

The working groups conduct their business by email and occasional teleconference. These three new public working groups held a combined kick-off teleconference on June 25. Additional participants are encouraged to join the working groups.

Learn more about the NIST Cloud Computing Program, the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, and the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.

To learn more about the working groups, visit the NIST Cloud Computing Collaboration Site.

To get involved in one of the working groups, join the relevant NIST Cloud Computing Working Group listserv to receive information about activities and upcoming teleconferences.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of June 30

July 1

Field Hearing:
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a field hearing on Internet rules to foster competition.
10 a.m., Davis Center at the University of Vermont 590 Main St., Burlington, Vermont

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FCC Chairman Offers Thoughts On Cybersecurity

In remarks at the American Enterprise Institute on June 12, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler outlined how he sees the Commission addressing cybersecurity.  While perhaps not the first government entity that comes to mind when thinking about cybersecurity, the FCC is concerned with the operations of networks, and would certainly be interested in keeping them secure.

Wheeler’s remarks were consistent with the approach outlined by the Obama Administration in its cybersecurity policies, including the 2013 Executive Order and the Cybersecurity Framework released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in response to that order.  While Wheeler did mention the new leadership and organization in the Commission responsible for cybersecurity, his remarks focused on the kind of collaborative, private-sector led approaches to cybersecurity encouraged by the Executive Order and the process that informed the Cybersecurity Framework.  He exhorted the commercial network ecosystem to assume new responsibility and accountability for managing cyber risks  He would like the Commission to encourage and support increased attention to network security, resorting to regulation only if increased private sector activity is not successful.  Wheeler considers the current activity insufficient to protect network cybsecurity but does not want to prescribe activity at the moment.

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June 27 Congressional Briefing on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Aereo Decision

Tomorrow, the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will hold a lunch briefing responsive to yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc.. The event is open to the public. Advance registration is requested.

You can submit questions in advance or during the event by tweeting your questions with the hashtag #ICACAereo.

“What Does Aereo’s Supreme Court Death Sentence Mean for Internet Startups, Copyright & Communications Act Legislation, and the Viewing Habits of Cord-Cutting Congressional Staff?”
Friday, June 27, 2014
12:00 pm – 1:15 pm. Check-in starts at 11:40 am.
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2237
Box lunch will be served. This is a widely attended event.
Register: http://www.eventbrite.com/o/tim-lordan-4772290819?s=26349807

Description:

Aereo is a $100 million unique Internet startup service that streams live local TV broadcasts to users over the Internet for a fee. Utilizing user-dedicated tiny antennas Aereo grabs the broadcast TV stream at the user’s request and streams the video to that user. While the design of Aereo’s novel and “technologically complex service” struck many as specifically architected to comply with existing U.S. copyright and communications laws, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that it did not. The decision likely spells the end of Aereo the startup.

Opponents of Aereo’s service argued in court that it violates copyright laws, as Aereo doesn’t pay licensing fees. Others said if Aereo had won, the precedent would have mortally wounded the free broadcast TV business, forcing broadcasters to move to a pay-TV model.

While those folks are now applauding the decision as the correct result many technologists and startups entrepreneurs are finding the Court’s decision disquieting. Some legal scholars are calling the decision confusing, baffling and a threat to innovation. In fact the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Commerce Committees respectively pointed to the decision as evidence of the need for Congress to review copyright and communications law.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of June 23

6/24 updated to include cellphone unlocking on Thursday

Monday, June 23, 2014

The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a field hearing on “Mass Gathering Security: A Look at the Coordinated Approach to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey and Other Large Scale Events.”
10 am, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on “21st Century Cures Roundtable: Digital Health Care.”
10 am, 2123 Rayburn

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law will hold a hearing on “The Proposed Merger of AT&T and DirecTV.”
10:30 am, 2141 Rayburn

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet will hold a hearing on “Protecting American Innovation, Competitiveness, and Market Access in Foreign Markets.”
1:30 pm, 2141 Rayburn

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on “Pathways to Exploration: A Review of the Future of Human Space Exploration.”
10 am, 2318 Rayburn

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will consider the “Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014,” the “National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Act of 2014,” and the H.R.1232 – Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act during its Business Meeting.
10 am, SD-342 Dirksen

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet will hold a hearing on “Music Licensing Under Title 17 Part Two.”
10 am, 2141 Rayburn

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies will hold a joint hearing on “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy.”
11 am, 311 Cannon

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology and Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a joint hearing on “Technology for Patient Safety at Veterans Hospitals.”
9 am, 2318 Rayburn

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, S. 517, and a Managers’ Amendment during its Business Meeting.
9:30 am, 226 Dirksen

NSF, DISCOVER Magazine, UC Berkeley and NSF’s Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC) will present a Congressional briefing on “Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Biotech.” The briefing will cover the vital role of computing in this emerging field of research.
Noon, B-339 Rayburn

Friday, June 27, 2014
No hearings are scheduled. No votes are expected in the House.

Save the Date – July 11
On Friday, July 11, the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will hold a lunchtime briefing on “The NSA Surveillance Programs: Assessing The Damage to U.S. Commerce, Confidence & Credibility.” The Congressional briefing is open to the public. Advance registration is requested.

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Free Webinar on Cybersecurity and Public Policy on June 25

Navigating Cybersecurity and Public Policy: Six Key Issues
ACM Learning Center Webinar
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 11 am ET
Registration: Free. Advance registration is required.

In this emerging era of truly pervasive computing, cybersecurity is a hot public policy topic. Numerous policy proposals have been advanced to address emerging cyber threats directed at governments and private businesses and vulnerabilities affecting consumer data and individual privacy. These policy proposals have far-reaching implications for the economy, innovation, Internet governance, supply chains for information and communications technologies, and global security.

Dr. Herbert Lin of the National Research Council will discuss the findings of a recent National Research Council report on cybersecurity and the 6 key things to know about cybersecurity as it intersects with public policy. The report, At the Nexus of Cybersecurity and Public Policy: Some Basic Concepts and Issues, identifies leading technical and nontechnical approaches to enhancing cybersecurity that are important for making informed public policy choices. It provides an overview of the cybersecurity policy agenda of the past two decades, the growing cybersecurity threat spectrum, and the anatomy of vulnerabilities and adversarial activities in cyberspace. It concludes that tradeoffs are inevitable and need to be accepted within political and policymaking processes.

How can we better understand and implement public policies to fight cybersecurity threats while preserving innovation, cutting-edge security research, civil liberties, and individual privacy? Join us for this overview and engaging discussion of important technical, legal, and policy issues.

Duration: 30 minutes, including 10 minutes of audience Q&A

Presenter: Herbert Lin, Chief Scientist, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, National Academies

Herbert Lin is Chief Scientist at the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council of the National Academies, where he has been study director of major projects on public policy and information technology. His projects also have included a number of studies related to cybersecurity: At the Nexus of Cybersecurity and Public Policy: Some Basic Concepts and Issues (2014); Proceedings of a Workshop on Deterring Cyberattacks: Informing Strategies and Developing Options (2010); Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities (2009); Toward a Safer and More Secure Cyberspace (2007); Engaging Privacy and Information Technology in a Digital Age (2007); Realizing the Potential of C4I: Fundamental Challenges (1999); and Cryptography’s Role in Securing the Information Society (1996). Prior to his NRC service, he was a professional staff member and staff scientist for the House Armed Services Committee (1986-1990), where his portfolio included defense policy and arms control issues. He received his Ph.D. in physics from MIT.

Moderator: Jeremy Epstein, Lead Program Officer, National Science Foundation Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program; ACM Senior Member; ACM U.S. Public Policy Council

Jeremy Epstein is Lead Program Officer for the National Science Foundation Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, NSF’s flagship cybersecurity research program. Jeremy is on loan from SRI International, where his research areas are voting system security and software assurance. He is the Chair of the Voting Committee within the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council. He’s also Associate Editor in Chief of IEEE Security & Privacy magazine, and founder of the Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security.

Register to attend the June 25 webinar with Dr. Herbert Lin, Chief Scientist, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council of the National Academies: “Navigating Cybersecurity and Public Policy: Six Key Issues.”

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DARPA Launches Cyber Grand Challenge

Today marks the start of the Cyber Grand Challenge, organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  The New York Times has a lengthy article on the challenge, which involves over 35 teams deploying automated cybersecurity solutions.  There’s also an extensive commercial website devoted to the event.  The teams will receive a suite of programs with hidden flaws.  The challenge is to detect and address the security flaws while permitting the infected programs to do their intended jobs.

This is the qualifying round of the Challenge.  The top seven teams will receive money to prepare for a final round, planned for 2016 in Las Vegas and held concurrently to that year’s Def Con.  The winning team would receive $2 million, with $1 million going to the second place team and $500,000 to the third place team.

DARPA has had success with previous Grand Challenges, including their work on autonomous vehicles.  The agency expects that work on this challenge would prompt developments in the following:

  • Expert-level software security analysis and remediation, at machine speeds on enterprise scales
  • Establishment of a lasting competition community for automated cyber defense
  • Identification of thought leaders for the future of cybersecurity
  • Creation of a public, high-fidelity recording of real time competition between automatic systems

While the competition officially begins today, teams may register to participate through November 2 of this year.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of June 2

June 4

The Privacy, Technology and the Law subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a location privacy bill.
2:30 p.m., 226 Dirksen Building

June 5

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

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Second Annual National Day of Civic Hacking May 31-June 1

Want to help make sense of the government’s Big Data? The 2nd National Day of Civic Hacking will take place this weekend, May 31 to June 1, in cities throughout the country. Anyone willing to contribute their time and skills can participate. A broad range of skills is needed.

Launched last year by the White House, this public-private initiative encourages citizens to help improve access to local, state, and federal government information through improved and new user interfaces, APIs, desktop applications, mobile apps, or other resources.

Here are a few of the challenges posed by federal agencies to inspire innovative solutions that can provide better and more effective services for the public:

  • White House Safety Data Initiative

    The White House would like to implement cross-agency and government-wide visualizations of safety data provided by individual agencies.

  • USPTO Patent Application Notification System

    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invites technologists, programmers, and innovators to help build useful apps for the patent datasets. The USPTO particularly would like apps that allow users to subscribe to alerts for specific criteria, such as: (i) inventor name, (ii) assignee, (iii) classification, and (iv) keywords.

  • FEMA Interactive API Explorer

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency would like to improve support for developers who create tools for first responders, businesses and organizations supporting disaster victims, and individuals affected by disasters.

  • Highway Performance Monitoring Travel System

    The Federal Highway Administration would like to provide visualizations of highway traffic using newly available spatial data.

  • NASA Coastal Inundation in Your Community App

    NASA would like an app to help businesses and residents of coastal communities understand if they are in an existing or possibly future floodplain.

There are many more data challenges requiring interface designers, accessibility designers, usability designers, programmers, scientists, graphic artists, educators, program managers, testers, and creative thinkers.

Interested in participating in the 2nd National Day of Civic Hacking? Learn more at: http://hackforchange.org

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Two Administration Big Data Reports Hint At Policy Challenges Ahead

In early May the White House and the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) each issued reports on ‘big data’ as part of the Administration’s 90-day big data review.   John Holdren, co-chair of PCAST and the President’s science adviser, was involved with both reports.  USACM submitted comments to the Office of Science and Technology Policy in connection with the big data review, and the White House solicited public feedback via its website.  The responses expressed significant concerns with data collection and use practices associated with big data, and reflected a strong interest in having effective transparency and oversight in place for data practices.

The review, announced in January as part of the response to leaks and disclosures about how the government was collected and using data for national security reasons, was focused in particular on the effects of big data on how people live and work.  This includes how private and public sector entities collect and use this data.  As you might expect, the focus of the PCAST report was more narrow than that of the White House report.  The White House report acknowledges the benefits possible through big data, which can include saving lives and making organizations run more efficiently.  It also made recommendations for legislative changes and additional policy actions that should improve the security and privacy of how big data is collected and used.

Besides concerns over the privacy and security of collected big data, the White House report highlighted how big data can facilitate discriminatory outcomes, especially in areas where there are existing protections in place.  This is in addition to the chilling effect government data collection and use can have on free expression and association.  The ease by which information can be collected, merged and analyzed without human interaction or interpretation makes it easier for large groups to be targeted.

Read More »

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of May 19

May 21

Hearing:
The Counterterroism and Intelligence Subcommittee and the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on cyber threats.
10 a.m., 311 Cannon Building

Markup:
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will review pending legislation, including an authorization bill for the National Science Foundation.
2 p.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

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USPTO Patent Public Advisory Committee Meeting on May 22, 2014

The USPTO Patent Public Advisory Committee will hold its next quarterly meeting on Thursday, May 22, 2014 from 9 am to 3 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:

  • Patent legislation in Congress
  • International harmonization
  • Patent End-to-End (PE2E) System
  • Update and discussion of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) activities

The USPTO Patent Public Advisory Committee advises the Secretary of Commerce and the USPTO Director on “the management of patent and trademark operations including goals, performance, budget, and user fees.” The committee also prepares an annual report, which is sent to the President, the Secretary of Commerce, and the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

For additional information, read the meeting agenda for the PPAC Quarterly Meeting on May 22, 2014.

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Nominations for National Medal of Technology and Innovation Due June 2

Nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation are due by June 2, 2014. The award is bestowed by the U.S. President as the country’s highest honor for achievements in the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. Anyone can nominate eminent researchers, scientists, engineers, and inventors for the award by submitting the nomination form with six letters of support.

The purpose of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation is to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the country’s competitiveness and quality of life through innovation and who have strengthened the scientific, technological, engineering, and computing workforce in the United States. This includes individuals who have pioneered advancements in computer science, cybersecurity, and mathematics, as well as the biological, physical, environmental, and social sciences.

Nominations may be submitted to honor an individual or a group of up to four individuals. The award also may be given to a company or a division of a company. The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony.

Past individual recipients include:

  • Vint Cerf and Robert E. Kahn for their pioneering work on the TCP/IP internet protocols
  • Ralph H. Baer for his work that led to the commercialization of interactive video games
  • Glen Culler for his work on digital speech processing and interactive graphical mathematics
  • David Cutler for his design of operating systems and computer architectures
  • Bill Gates for his contributions to universal computing and the personal computing industry
  • Raymond Kurzweil for his work on voice recognition
  • Grace Murray Hopper for her development of computer programming languages
  • Steven Sasson for his invention of the digital camera
  • Steven P. Jobs and Stephen Wozniak for their work to extend the power of the personal computer

Past companies bestowed with this honor include: AT&T, IBM, Motorola, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, and Xerox.

Which innovator or company do you think has demonstrated extensive pioneering achievements in technology?

The nomination form, evaluation criteria, and guidelines are available from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.

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USTR Annual Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights

Piracy of devices, storage technologies, and mobile technologies is growing worldwide according to the USTR’s annual Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights. The USTR also reports an increase in software and devices to circumvent the protection systems of game consoles.

The report, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, examines patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret laws in countries around the world. For this year’s report, the U.S. government reviewed 82 trading partners and placed 10 of them on the Priority Watch List and 27 on the Watch List.

Italy was removed from the Watch List, mainly due to its efforts to address online copyright piracy. Italy enacted regulations that provide for notice-and-takedown procedures and that address large-scale piracy. Those regulations went into effect at the end of March 2014.

China, at the top of the Priority Watch List, is working on reforms to its patent, copyright, trade secret, and other IP-related laws and regulations.

India, second on the Priority Watch List, is characterized as having a “challenging environment for IPR protection and enforcement.” One key concern is the inadequacy of India’s contract-based approach to trade secret protection. There are few remedies when a competitor steals trade secrets but where there is no contractual relationship between those companies.

The Priority Watch List includes: China, India, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela.

The Watch List includes: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

For additional information, read the press release and the Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights.

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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of May 12

May 14

Hearing:
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing on elections data.
9:30 a.m., 301 Russell Building

May 15

Hearing:
The Investigations Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing about the hazards of online advertising.
9:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Building

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UCLA Sanjam Garg Wins ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

The ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award is presented annually to the author of the best doctoral dissertation in computer science and engineering.

Sanjam Garg, who earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013, has won the annual ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award for his work on innovative cryptography tools that address two key elements: security and functionality.

His solution, based on multilinear maps, makes it essentially impossible to reverse-engineer obfuscated software using today’s computing power yet still allows the obfuscated software to run. This combination also makes it difficult to tamper with software. His approach to create ‘unhackable’ software enhances the cryptography tool set and enables a range of new cybersecurity applications.

In his dissertation “Candidate Multilinear Maps,” Garg described new mathematical tools, referred to as plausible lattice-based constructions, that serve as key ingredients for transforming a program into a “jigsaw puzzle” of encrypted pieces. Corresponding to each input is a unique set of puzzle pieces that, when assembled, reveal the output of the program. Security of the obfuscated program hinges on the fact that illegitimate combinations of the puzzle pieces do not reveal anything.

To learn more about the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, visit http://awards.acm.org/doctoral_dissertation/

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State of the Net Wireless Keynote by Cellphone Pioneer Martin Cooper

The inventor of the wireless phone, Martin Cooper, called for a spectrum policy roadmap focused on promoting efficient use, competition, and innovation at this week’s State of the Net Wireless conference, sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee.

Cooper, who serves as a member of the FCC Technological Advisory Council and its Spectrum Frontier Working Group, has long been a proponent that the wireless revolution requires not only more spectrum for mobile services but also improved spectral efficiency. Efficiency will help drive down costs and provide better-managed spectrum, he said.

Cooper’s Law” holds that spectral efficiency has doubled every 2.5 years for the past 104 years since Guglielmo Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless transmission. This translates to cutting the costs of delivering information by half every couple of years. According to Cooper, two main factors have driven improved utilization of the spectrum: technological innovation and government action.

He predicts that improvements in innovative enabling technologies to use the spectrum efficiently will continue. What he sees lacking are the built-in incentives in spectrum management for providers to deliver low-cost, reliable high-speed wireless services through improved efficiency. As a result, we see that cellphone providers are not motivated to achieve lower costs or to pass cost savings on to consumers.

Spectrum auctions are “terrible,” he said. Given Cooper’s Law of spectral efficiency doubling every few years, auctioning at a fixed price gives the buyer a “huge bargain.” He favors a policy approach that encourages and rewards efficient use of the spectrum. Achieving spectral efficiency is becoming increasingly important as we see mobile technologies revolutionizing healthcare, education, and business and the Internet of Things driving new demands on the network.

Cooper is best known for his development of the 2.2-lb. Motorola DynaTAC portable handset, which had a battery life of 20 minutes. Although demonstrated in 1973 when Cooper used the world’s first portable phone to make a public call to his competitor, a commercial version wasn’t available until the FCC approved its use a decade later in 1983. Picking up a model of the early prototype phone, he told the audience that no one stayed on “The Brick” for more than 2-3 minutes back then because it was so heavy.

The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee presented Cooper with an award and hosted an evening reception in his honor.

For more information and to listen to the audio, visit: http://www.stateofthenet.org/wireless/

 

Upcoming Events
The FCC will address two major spectrum policy issues at its public meeting on Thursday, May 15. The FCC will consider repurposing broadcast television spectrum through incentive auctions (GN Docket No. 12-268) and rules related to mobile spectrum (WT Docket No. 12-269). The FCC also will release its proposed Open Internet rules. A live webcast will be available.

The following day, Friday, May 16, the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will hold a staff briefing for Congress where two panel of experts will offer a range of viewpoints on spectrum auctions, the need for unlicensed spectrum, and the proposed Open Internet rules and their implications for net neutrality.

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ACM Presidential Award Winner – Mehran Sahami

The ACM Presidential Award is given at the discretion of the ACM President, to individuals whose contributions in computing fall within the goals of the ACM.

The ACM Presidential Award goes to Mehran Sahami, a Professor and Associate Chair for Education in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University, for his outstanding leadership during a three-year collaborative effort between ACM and the IEEE Computer Society to produce Computer Science Curricula 2013 (CS2013), a comprehensive revision of the curricular guidelines for college programs in computer science at an international level.

The CS2013 report sets the standards for computer science education worldwide for the next decade and offers curricular and pedagogical guidance for educators. The report also includes examples of flexible courses and curricula models for a broad range of higher education institutions worldwide.

In leading this effort, he engaged the computer science education community worldwide, managed the process of public review and comment, and led the production of a final report that is international in scope. The process included multiple opportunities for public consultation and robust scrutiny. His commitment to the participatory process and responsiveness to the community ensured consideration and incorporation of the latest developments in the discipline.

To learn more about the ACM Presidential Award, visit http://awards.acm.org/president/

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ACM Distinguished Service Award Goes to Gerhard Goos, Juris Hartmanis, and Jan van Leeuwen

The ACM Distinguished Service Award is given to individuals on the basis of value and degree of services to the computing community.

Gerhard Goos of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Juris Hartmanis of Cornell University, and Jan van Leeuwen of Utrecht University are the recipients of the ACM Distinguished Service Award for their definitive role in establishing computer science as a vibrant subject.

Among their contributions to the computing community, they served as series editors of the Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), published since 1973. Through the LNCS series Goos, Hartmanis, and van Leeuwen provided a widely read, well visited forum that supported the exploration of new areas, enabled the dissemination of ideas, and served as an initial platform for many a young researcher.

To learn more about the ACM Distinguished Service Award, visit http://awards.acm.org/distinguished_service/

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Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Negotiations in Washington, D.C. on May 19-23, 2014

The 5th round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations will take place in the Washington, D.C. area from May 19-23, 2014. Stakeholders are invited to provide their viewpoints on the proposed U.S.-EU trade agreement and to hear from the Chief Negotiators on Wednesday, May 21. The negotiating teams will discuss a broad range of trade issues between the United States and European Union, including intellectual property rights and digital trade.

In prior comments to the U.S. Trade Representative, the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council outlined three principles for trade provisions relevant to intellectual property rights, electronic commerce, and information and communication technology services. 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 generally; 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.

The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council urges the negotiators to consider the following three principles:

1. Balance Intellectual Property Protection with Relevant Private and Public Interests
Adequate protection of intellectual property requires carefully balancing various interests. The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council is committed to ensuring that intellectual property rights are protected. How those rights are enforced can have unintended negative consequences, including blocking legitimate uses of intellectual property. Policymakers must ensure that fair uses of intellectual property are preserved. Fair use rights ensure that researchers, students, people with disabilities, and others can effectively exchange knowledge and information for legitimate purposes.

2. Promote Innovation and Competitiveness
Whether it is within computing fields and industry or across society broadly, computing technology is driving innovation. New developments in computing have created new jobs, products, and services, and have spurred the increased speed, scope, and scale of innovation. Advances in computing have facilitated the collection, organization, and analysis of information in many different fields of research and development. Public policy should foster and encourage a wide variety of technological advancements, approaches, and systems to emerge within a competitive marketplace. The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council encourages policymakers to adopt policies that narrowly address specific user behaviors, rather than broadly prohibiting technologies because of their potential for undesirable use.

3. Preserve Data Privacy of Individuals
As society embraces new technologies and increases interaction with the data and systems these technologies entail, the issues of security and privacy in computing become increasingly paramount. Striking a balance between individual privacy rights and valid government and commercial needs is a complex challenge facing technologists and policymakers, but one of vital importance. Computing techniques are available today that can meet many private sector and government needs, while fully embracing the data privacy principles of minimization, consent, openness, access, accuracy, security, and accountability.

For additional information on the 5th round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations in Arlington, Virginia on May 19-23, 2014, visit: http://www.ustr.gov/ttip/round-information

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Internet Policy Task Force Multistakeholder Forum on DMCA Notice and Takedown on May 8, 2014

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force will hold the second meeting of the Multistakeholder Forum on DMCA Notice and Takedown on May 8, 2014 in Berkeley, California. A webcast will be available.

The meeting will focus on the operational aspects of online copyright infringement notification, including the benefits of harmonizing notice procedures and the potential development of a standardized notification template for voluntary adoption and online implementation by stakeholders. Currently, internet service providers, hosting companies, and search engines use different forms and procedures for copyright holders to request removal of infringing content from the internet.

As discussed at the first meeting, an anticipated outcome of the second meeting will be the formation of a smaller working group that will develop a proposal for the full group to consider. Stakeholders with technical and operational expertise in copyright infringement notification systems are encouraged to participate and will be asked to identify their interests in participating in the working group at the meeting.

Future meetings of the Multistakeholder Forum on DMCA Notice and Takedown will alternate between the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia and the West Coast.

To register to attend in person or for the webcast, select “multistakeholder” on the registration page.

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ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences Winner – David Blei

The ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences recognizes personal contributions by young scientists and system developers to a contemporary innovation that, through its depth, fundamental impact and broad implications, exemplifies the greatest achievements in the discipline.

ACM recognizes David Blei, an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department of Princeton University, with the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences for his pioneering work in topic modeling of large data sets through probabilistic models.

His work on a suite of algorithms allows us to identify, analyze, and better understand thematic patterns and structures in vast document collections when manual organization and analysis would be impractical, if not impossible. The implications for businesses and consumers are far-reaching. For example, his work has practical implications for identifying patterns in computational biology and other sciences, understanding more efficient ways to search and browse archival records for relevant content, and better predicting changes based on massive amounts of data. Pragmatically, his research helps to make Big Data relevant rather than overwhelming.

ACM President Vint Cerf said that Blei’s contributions provided a basic framework for an entire generation of researchers to develop statistical modeling approaches. “His topic modeling algorithms go beyond the search and links approach to information retrieval. In an era of explosive data on the Internet, he saw the advantage of discovering the latent themes that underlie documents, and identifying how each document exhibits these themes. In fact, he changed the way machine learning researchers think about modeling text and other objects in the digital realm.”

To learn more about the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences, visit http://awards.acm.org/infosys/

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NSF Requests Recommendations for Scientific and Technical Advisory Committees

The National Science Foundation (NSF) requests recommendations for membership on its scientific and technical federal advisory committees. Self-recommendations are accepted. Committee members serve varying term lengths. NSF has 13 scientific and technical advisory committees, including:

Committees meet twice per year and provide advice on the impact of NSF policies, programs, and activities. Members also contribute expert advice on current and emergent issues in their respective scientific and technical disciplines and fields.

For a full list of advisory committees and information on recommending yourself or someone else, visit: https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-08976

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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.

Posted in Privacy and Security | Comments closed

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

Posted in Intellectual Property | Comments closed

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.

Posted in Privacy and Security | Comments closed

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.

Posted in Web Accessibility | Comments closed

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.

Posted in Web Accessibility | Comments closed

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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