ACM Washington Update Vol. 8.9 (September 30, 2004)

CONTENTS

[1] ACM Leadership Approves Position Statement on Voting Systems
[2] USACM Joins Diverse Coalition Seeking Hearings on the Induce Act
[3] USACM Launches New Web Site and Tech Policy Weblog
[4] Congress to Take Action on 9/11 Commission Recommendations
[5] International Developments in Cybercrime, Spam, and Internet Governance
[6] Upcoming Events of Interest to Computing Community
[7] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available here.]

[1] ACM LEADERSHIP APPROVES POSITION STATEMENT ON VOTING SYSTEMS

Seeking to improve the security, accessibility, and public confidence in the voting process, ACM’s elected leadership has approved a public statement on the deployment and use of computer-based electronic voting (e-voting) systems for public elections. ACM’s position is that while computer-based e-voting systems have the potential to improve the electoral process, such systems must embody careful engineering, strong safeguards, and rigorous testing in both their design and operation. The action came after seeking input from the broad ACM membership. For more information (including the complete ACM statement on e-voting), see http://www.acm.org/usacm/weblog/index.php?p=73.

In other e-voting news, a group of experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has called for voter-system research and reform, warning of broad vulnerability. A panel on election technology cautioned that the American system of voting is broadly vulnerable to error and abuse and called for reform to make results more reliable and to promote better access by voters, especially those who have historically encountered serious impediments to exercising their right to vote. For more information, see http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2004/0921evote.shtml.

Finally, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill requiring the state’s new e-voting machines to produce voter-verifiable paper trails by July 2005 (older machines have an additional year to comply). For more information, see the Federal Computer Week article at http://www.fcw.com/geb/articles/2004/0927/web-calif-09-28-04.asp.


[2] USACM JOINS DIVERSE COALITION SEEKING HEARINGS ON THE INDUCE ACT

USACM has joined a broad coalition of stakeholders (including IEEE-USA, the American Association of Universities, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and numerous IT companies) in sending a letter to the U.S. Senate concerning the so-called “Induce Act” (S. 2560). A copy of the letter is available at http://www.acm.org/usacm/PDF/coalition_induce_letter.pdf. The coalition is troubled by the broad scope and potential consequences of creating secondary liability for the creators of technologies such as peer-to-peer software. Rather than fast-tracking the legislation into law, the coalition is calling for further public debate. Earlier this summer, USACM sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch expressing reservations about the legislation and offering to provide input on its development. USACM is concerned that the Induce Act’s flawed approach of broadly restricting technology rather than narrowly targeting specific acts of infringement could undermine continued innovation in software and digital computing. This letter is available at http://www.acm.org/usacm/induce_letter.pdf. In addition, more information about the Induce Act itself can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:S.2560:.


[3] USACM LAUNCHES NEW WEB SITE AND TECH POLICY WEBLOG

USACM has launched its new web site and technology policy weblog. The site will provide better access to USACM resources, information about USACM and its activities, and will provide timely pointers to technology policy news items, policy activities, and related events. Additional changes are planned for the web site, as USACM works to create a technology policy resource for both the ACM community and the public. Please visit the redesigned USACM site at http://www.acm.org/usacm/. Please email any questions or comments about the site to David Padgham at david.padgham@acm.org.


[4] CONGRESS TO TAKE ACTION ON 9/11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

The White House recently issued an executive order creating a privacy and civil liberties advisory board made up of a number of federal officials and charged with advising the President on effective means to protect the freedoms, civil liberties, and information privacy guaranteed by federal law. For more information on the order, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/08/20040827-3.html or http://tinyurl.com/4ka3n.

Shortly thereafter, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) (S. 2774, the 9/11 Commission Report Implementation Act of 2004) that–among other provisions–creates a similar board. However, unlike the board created by the executive order, S. 2774 requires that the board include members from outside the federal government, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The proposed Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board would also result in a body with a wider range of responsibilities. The text and information about the status of the legislation is available from http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:S.+2774:.


[5] INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS IN CYBERCRIME, SPAM, AND INTERNET GOVERNANCE

The Council of Europe held a meeting in Strasbourg, France, recently to get governments worldwide to accelerate ratification of the 2001 Cybercrime Convention, the first international treaty to combat Internet crimes. For more information about the conference, see http://www.coe.int/T/E/Com/Files/Events/2004-09-cybercrime/. In June, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony regarding the Cybercrime Treaty (see the July edition of Update at http://www.acm.org/usacm/update/update86.html), although Senate action on the treaty is unlikely this session. The full text of the convention itself is available at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/185.htm or http://tinyurl.com/6m9ey.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently created a task force to coordinate the fight against spam. OECD countries have set up the task force to “marshal the efforts of government, business and civil society in the most comprehensive, strategic and inclusive response to date to the problems posed by unsolicited e-mail messages, or spam. Spam undermines user trust online, reduces productivity, spreads computer viruses and increases costs for all parties, and close international co-operation is essential in order to combat it. At present, a number of countries have several agencies with competencies in tackling spam.” For more information, see the OECD press release at http://www.oecd.org/document/7/0,2340,en_2649_201185_33656711_1_1_1_1,00.html or http://tinyurl.com/5bpkn. To review USACM’s recommendations on spam policy, see http://www.acm.org/usacm/PDF/SPAM.pdf.

The Internet Governance Project (IGP)–a collaboration between Syracuse University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Centre for Comparative and International Studies of the University of Zurich, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology–has issued a report analyzing the current state of Internet governance, and calling upon the United Nations to make fundamental decisions to safeguard the functioning of the Internet. The report was commissioned by the United Nations Information and Communication Technology Task Force as an input into the deliberations of the UN Secretary-General’s Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). The complete report is available (PDF) at http://dcc.syr.edu/MainReport-final.pdf. For more information, see the IGP home page at http://www.internetgovernance.org/.


[6] UPCOMING EVENTS OF INTEREST TO COMPUTING COMMUNITY

* October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Organized by the National Cyber Security Alliance, its sponsors hope to raise awareness of cyber security issues so that users improve their cyber security preparedness. The National Cyber Security Awareness Month initiative is structured around four week-long components, targeting home users in week one, small businesses in week two, education audiences (K-12 and higher education) in week three, and focusing on child safety online in week four. In addition, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) has introduced a resolution in Congress in support of the month, stating that Congress should work with federal agencies, national organizations, businesses, and educational institutions to encourage the improvements in U.S. computer security. For more information, visit http://www.staysafeonline.info/.

* The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2004 will take place in Chicago from October 6-9. It is the fifth in a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. More information, including registration details, can be found at http://www.gracehopper.org/.

* Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) are holding their annual meeting on October 16, hosted by the Communication, Culture & Technology Program at Georgetown University: “Making the Grade?: A Report Card on US Policies for the Information Society.” More information is available at http://cpsr.org/conferences/annmtg04/.

* The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold an Email Authentication Summit on November 9-10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the FTC’s satellite building at 601 New Jersey Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. For additional information, see the FTC’s summit announcement and request for comments at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/09/emailauth.htm, as well as the GCN article at http://www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/27286-1.html or http://tinyurl.com/4mpna.


[7] ABOUT USACM

USACM is the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). ACM is the premier organization for computing professionals, delivering resources that advance the computing and IT disciplines, enable professional development, and promote policies and research that benefit society. USACM serves as the focal point for ACM’s interactions with U.S. government organizations and the science and technology policy community. For more information about USACM, see http://www.acm.org/usacm/about.html.


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