ACM Washington Update Vol. 9.1 (January 31, 2005)

By David
January 31, 2005


[1] Cameron Wilson Begins as ACM Policy Office Director
[2] Numerous Briefs Filed in MGM v. Grokster Case
[3] New Legislation on National Standards for Driver’s Licenses
[4] PITAC Approves Report on Federal Cybersecurity R&D
[5] White House Names New Homeland Security Director
[6] Upcoming Events
[7] About USACM

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


Cameron Wilson recently joined ACM as Director the association’s Office of Public Policy in Washington, D.C. Cameron comes to ACM following 10 years on Capitol Hill, where he dealt with a wide range of legislative issues. Most recently he served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director in the office of Congressman Vernon Ehlers. In this position Cameron was responsible for helping set and implement Congressman Ehlers’ overall legislative agenda.

Prior to this role, he worked as a professional staff member on the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards of the House Science Committee. Cameron was responsible for reviewing and advising Chairman Ehlers on policy matters within the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction, including matters before the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This jurisdiction covered a breadth of technology and environmental issues, with specific focus on the application of science to these policy matters. More information about Cameron and other recent changes within USACM is available from ACM’s Membernet at

As policy office director, Cameron takes over from Jeff Grove, who recently followed an opportunity to become the Washington representative of ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world, after several successful years as policy office director.

For more information on USACM and its public policy activities on behalf of ACM, visit the USACM web site at or contact ACM’s Washington, D.C., policy office at 202-659-9711 or


Several amicus briefs have been filed recently in connection with the MGM Studios v. Grokster Ltd. case that is pending before the United States Supreme Court. As reported here last month, the case centers on whether or not the makers of file-sharing software and networks are liable for the copyright infringement of their users. The Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court’s ruling that cleared peer-to-peer (P2P) companies Grokster and StreamCast from liability for copyright infringement committed by their users.

The recently filed briefs comprise those of the petitioner, those written in support of the petitioner, and those written in support of neither party. Among them were briefs filed by the United States Solicitor General, the Business Software Alliance, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, and IEEE-USA. U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch also filed a neutral brief, urging the Court to decide the case on its merits.

Briefs on behalf of the repondents must be filed by March 1st, and the Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on March 29. For more information, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) comprehensive web page regarding MGM v. Grokster, which includes copies of all the briefs related to the case, at

In other P2P news, state Senator Kevin Murray recently introduced a bill in the California legislature that could criminalize the sale and distribution of peer-to-peer file-sharing software. The bill, SB 96, includes penalties ranging from fines to jail time for developers, sellers, advertisers, and distributors P2P file sharing software who do not take “reasonable care” to insure that their software is not used to trade copyrighted recordings or audiovisual works. The bill is seen by many as a way to push file-sharing software makers toward the development and incorporation of filters in their software. More information about the bill (and the issues surrounding it) is available from a recent CNET article at, while the text of the bill itself is available at


House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced legislation (H.R. 418), which includes much of the immigration reform language that was dropped from the intelligence reform bill that became law late last year. Also included in bill are provisions that would require the Department of Homeland Security to develop standards for state driver’s licenses, as well as financial incentives for states to enter into an “interstate compact” for sharing this data. The bill contains details about minimum document requirements (i.e., information and features that must appear on new licenses), as well as the requirement that foreign visitors’ temporary licenses must expire at the same time the visitor’s visa expires.

The bill has over 100 cosponsors, including a number of prominent committee chairmen. However, the bill will likely face substantial opposition from privacy and civil liberties advocates, as well as from House Democrats. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already issued a press release voicing strong opposition to the legislation (available at

More information about the bill is available from THOMAS at, while Rep. Sensenbrenner’s comments are available at

Meanwhile, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) recently held a meeting to address Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, which requires the agency to develop a common identification standard and biometric ID card for Federal employees and contractors. Meeting attendees heard from representatives of — among others — the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Progressive Policy Institute, and the Information Technology Association of America. The deadline for the standard is late February. For more information, see the project’s home page at, as well as the Federal Computer Week article about the recent meeting at


The President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) — whose membership includes USACM Chair Eugene Spafford and ACM President David Patterson — held a meeting in January during which committee members approved a report by their Subcommittee on Cyber Security. Among other things, the report concludes that the Federal research and development budget provides inadequate funding for basic research in civilian (i.e., unclassified) cybersecurity and calls for increased funding for basic research at such agencies as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The report goes on to suggest specific areas in need of more research funding, including authentication methodologies, software assurance, and societal and governance issues. The final report is expected to be published this Spring.

More information about the recent meeting, including an agenda and a presentation regarding the report, is available at, while CRA’s Research Policy Weblog has a good summary at


The White House has chosen Michael Chertoff, a Federal appeals court judge, to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff was a key figure in the United States’ legal response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in the Justice Department’s criminal division, and, as a former assistant attorney general, he has been an advocate of using data mining techniques in counterterrorism activities. Chertoff also played a part in developing the USA PATRIOT Act. If confirmed, Chertoff would succeed Tom Ridge in overseeing a department that includes over 20 federal agencies and has more than 170,000 employees.

The Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold Chertoff’s confirmation hearing on February 2nd — more information is available on the committee’s web site at

Additional information about Chertoff is available from the White House web site at, as well as in a recent Government Computer News article at

In other news, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell announced in January that he will be stepping down from the FCC sometime in March 2005, citing a desire to pursue other opportunities. Potential replacements include fellow FCC Commissioners Kevin Martin and Kathleen Abernathy. Powell’s statement regarding his resignation is available at, while additional information is available in the CNET article at


February 9: Congressional Internet Caucus State of the Net Conference – a full-day policy conference featuring technology demos and networking opportunities. For more information, see

February 14-16: The U.N.’s Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) will meet at the United Nations in Geneva to discuss issue papers prepared following the group’s first meeting. More information is available at

February 17-21: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) holds its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Complete information is available at


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

For earlier editions of the ACM Washington Update, see:

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Should you have questions, comments, or suggestions regarding this newsletter, public policy issues, or USACM activities, please contact the ACM’s Washington, D.C., Office of Public Policy by email at or by calling 202-659-9711.