ACM Washington Update, Vol. 13.8 (October 8, 2009)

By David Bruggeman
October 8, 2009


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] ACM Argues for Computer Science Education in Kansas
[3] FCC Chairman Plans to Create Net Neutrality Rules
[4] House Committee Approves Two Technology Bills
[5] Cybersecurity Research Legislation Approved by Subcommittee
[6] Article Explores the Long Road to Computer Science Education Reform
[7] USACM Releases FY2009 Annual Report
[8] USACM Member Presents on Human-Computer Interaction Research and Policy
[9] About USACM

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


Happy new fiscal year. Fiscal Year 2010 started on October 1, but only one of 12 FY10 appropriations bills are finished. Congress is busy trying to finalize the budget and health care legislation. There are more details on each item below, as well as on our weblog at

* ACM and the Computer Science Teachers Association urge the Kansas Board of Regents to ensure that computer science education is a core requirement for students.

* The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission addresses net neutrality, saying the Commission will convert its four principles into six rules.

* A key House Committee approves two technology bills, one on data security and breach notification, and the other on peer-to-peer file sharing programs.

* A subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee approves legislation that would amend the Cybersecurity Research and Development Act.

* Communications of the ACM article explores why it is so difficult to reform computer science education in the United States.

* USACM details its past year’s activities and agenda in the FY2009 Annual Report.

* USACM member Dr. Jonathan Lazar lectures on Human Computer Interaction and Policy at a meeting of the DC ACM chapter.


Recently the Kansas Board of Regents formed a task force to review the Qualified Admission Regulations, which are high school requirements that ensure automatic acceptance into one of Kansas’ public universities. Since the requirements influence students’ admissions into those schools, it has become the de facto college prep curriculum in Kansas. The task force’s assessment concluded that the current computing technology requirement is outdated, the content is being taught in other courses and it should be removed from the admission requirements. This requirement has allowed the development of computer science content in Kansas schools.

In response, ACM and the Computer Science Teachers Association wrote the board urging them to reinstate computer science as a core requirement. ACM and CSTA argued that if the computing requirement were eliminated then students would solely focus on the core requirements and computer science education in Kansas will fade away. The letter provided the board with recommendations to ensure that students are being exposed to rigorous CS courses instead of basic computing literacy — including that computer science courses should count as a math or science credit.

To read the letter see:

For more information on Kansas State Board of Regent’s Qualified Admission Regulations:


The Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Julius Genachowski, recently outlined actions for the Commission to establish and expand the definition of net neutrality to “safeguard and free the open Internet.” Beginning in October, the Commission will start a rule-making process to codify the four current net neutrality principles that guide its decisions on this issue. These principles state that “consumers must be able to access the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, and attach non-harmful devices to the network.” In addition they will add two more principles focused on non-discrimination: “broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications” and transparency: “providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices.”

Read more here on the net neutrality principles here: – Commission’s press release – Full text of Chairman’s remarks


The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently passed two technology bills, the Data Accountability and Trust Act (H.R. 2221) and the Informed P2P User Act (H.R. 1319).

The Data Accountability and Trust Act requires that the Federal Trade Commission set regulations for data security policy for all entities that own or possess electronic data containing personal information. In the event of a breach or by request of the FTC, the entities would produce those security policies. The bill also gives the FTC the authority to conduct audits if a breach occurs. This bill has previously passed through this committee but has not made it to the House floor due to various jurisdictional issues.

The Informed P2P (peer-to-peer) User Act would require notice and consent from a consumer who installs and/or operates certain P2P programs on their computer. The intent is to make consumers more aware of what files on their computers can be accessed when using a P2P program. The bill is a response to the exposure of various sensitive documents through P2P networks. Recent revisions to the legislation focused on narrowing definitions to ensure that valid P2P applications would not be subject to the notice and consent requirements and then not bombard consumers with such notices.

Both bills currently are waiting consideration on the House floor.

To read more about recent action on this legislation see:


The Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House and Science Technology Committee passed legislation to amend the Cybersecurity Research and Development Act. Proposed revisions will extend authorized budget amounts to various research programs related to cybersecurity, put into law the current Scholarship for Service program administered by the National Science Foundation, require federal agencies to collaborate on a strategic plan for R&D, and replace an early faculty development program with a postdoctoral research fellowship program. The bill now waits to be approved by the full committee in order to proceed to the House floor.


In September’s issue of Communications of the ACM, ACM’s Director of Public Policy, Cameron Wilson, co-wrote a piece on the state of computer science education with Computing Research Association’s Director of Government Affairs, Peter Harsha. The piece provides policy insight on the factors that are hindering the improvements to K-12 computer science education. A major concern is that challenges at the beginning of the computer science education pipeline must be addressed as too few students have the chance to engage in rigorous computing courses in high school. The article speaks on why progress in this area has not happened in the U.S., how computing fits into overall K-12 STEM education reform through the understanding of standards and assessments, and gives examples of efforts already underway to fight the national problem.

To read the article in full (subscription required) see:


ACM’s Policy Office staff and USACM’s leadership have compiled USACM’s annual report for the past fiscal year – 2009 (which ended June 30). This year’s report contains descriptions of USACM’s work on advancing computer science education and innovation, electronic voting, privacy, and security. The report details testimonies given by our members as well as their activities to educate Congress about different technology policy issues.

The full report can be read at:


On September 21st, Dr. Jonathan Lazar spoke at a meeting of the DC ACM chapter on the topic of “Current issues in Human-Computer Interaction and Public Policy”. Dr. Lazar is a professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Townson University and a USACM member. He discussed how government policy affects the work done in human-computer interaction and the current status of policy initiatives in a number of areas. Topics addressed included voting machine usability, web accessibility, ergonomic rules, privacy, and identification systems. The meeting was also sponsored by the New America Foundation.

To watch the lecture online see: and


USACM is the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, unites computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

USACM acts as the focal point for ACM’s interaction with the U.S. Congress and government organizations. It seeks to educate and assist policy-makers on legislative and regulatory matters of concern to the computing community.

For more information about USACM and ACM, see:


For earlier editions of the ACM Washington Update, see:


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