Policy Highlights from Communications of the ACM – November 2009 (Vol. 52, No. 11)

By David Bruggeman
November 30, 2009

Below is a list of items with policy relevance from the November issue of Communications of the ACM. As always, much of the material in CACM is premium content, and free content one month may slip behind a pay wall the next. You need to be a member of ACM or a subscriber to CACM to access premium content online.


Implementing Electronic Medical Records, Leah Hoffman

A review of the implementation challenges facing the drive to establish electronic medical records in a much higher percentage of American medical practices.

Viewpoints: Legally Speaking

Are Business Methods Patentable? by Pamela Samuelson

A discussion about how a pending Supreme Court case concerning business method patents may affect software patents. The influence of this decision will come from why the Court decides to strike down the patents at issue, if it rules that way.


On Public Service and Computer Science, by Jonathan M. Smith

This essay argues for researchers to take time to serve as program directors or program managers at federal research agencies, describing the personal, professional, and community gains from taking the time to serve.


Communications Surveillance: Privacy and Security at Risk, by Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau

A discussion of how digital wiretapping and the associated logistics of producing and selling telephone equipment have challenged the security and privacy of telecommunications.

Four Billion Little Brothers?: Privacy, Mobile Phones, and Ubiquitous Data Collection, by Katie Shelton

An examination of how mobile phones can function as mobile sensors, allow for massive amounts of data collection. While a boon for research, there are significant privacy implications attached to these devices and the information they collect. The author describes various steps that users and developers can take to make sure that these devices collect and use information in ways so that users have control over this information.