(Fwd) Telecom Post #15
Thu, 28 Sep 1995 11:08:01 WST+8
More grist for your mill? (or mist for your grill?)
------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 02:03:03 -0700
To: "Multiple recipients of list email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Telecom Post #15
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Free Speech Media, LLC
September 25, 1995
Compiled, written, and edited by Coralee Whitcomb
Please direct comments and inquiries to email@example.com
The Telecom Post is posted to several distribution lists and is also available
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message SUBSCRIBE TELECOM-POST YOUR NAME.
The Telecom Post will be published weekly while the U.S. Congress works on
a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S information delivery systems.
1. Telecom Legislation
2. Exporting Encryption
3. Dismantling Commerce
4. Intellectual Property Report
5. Spectrum Auction
Update on the Telecom Legislation - anticipation
Still no news on the selection of conference committee members
by Speaker Gingrich. The Washington Telecom Week reports that
though he considers the telecom legislation as a major bill,
this delay in the process is highly unusual. The Senate has not
yet announced their official conferees either.
The exit of Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) leaves the chairmanship
of the Senate Commerce Committee's communications subcommittee
empty. Packwood was a big supporter of the Bell Operating
Companies and cable de-regulation and probably would have been
on the Senate conferee list.
Recipients of Bell largesse in descending order (from Common
Rep. David Bonior (D-MI)
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI)
Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC)
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA)
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL)
Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA)
Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO)
Rep. Jack Fields (R-TX)
Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR)
Long Distance industry campaign donations in the ten year
period- approximately $9,000,000
Combined RBOC donations in the ten year period - $12,585,832
Much to the dismay of industry, the US continues to proceed
slowly with the loosening of export laws concerning encryption
products. Currently the law will only allow the export of
encryption products using keys of 40 bits. Industry feels that
in order to compete in the international market, it must be able
to export products with keys of at least 64 bits (a 16 million
times stronger product). 64 bit products are presently
available from 21 countries.
The US government gets hung up with regard to law enforcement
and wants to ensure that it has access to the key of encrypted
communications. The government's original proposal was the
infamous Clipper Chip which would have stored the keys with
government agencies. This plan was scrapped after a huge outcry
by nearly everybody but the law enforcement community. The
proposed 1995 version is to have the keys escrowed with
certified, commercial, US entities. The key could not exceed 64
bits and several other criteria must be met. Industry and
privacy group remain unhappy.
In the summer of 1994, Vice President Gore released a letter
which included a list of criteria that an encryption policy
should contain; it should be voluntary, it should include
statutory liability rules to protect users, it should be
software based, the algorithms should be public and
unclassified, it should contain Fourth Amendment safeguards and
use multiple escrow agents. Many felt that the Administration
was on the right track. Unfortunately, the latest proposal has
come as a disappointing surprise. The Center for Democracy and
Technology (CDT) finds that the current proposed version of
encryption policy violates four of the six principles (it
adheres to the software implementaiton and public algorithms).
The Administration has proposed that the new policy may need
legislative backing for implementation. CDT also argues for
legislation but to change the proposal rather than fortify it.
Everyone agrees that the delay legislation would produce only
serves to put the US further behind in the global marketplace.
More information can be found at
Using the argument that entities receiving federal grants are
inclined to use that money for lobbying activities, Congress is
attempting to tighten the reigns on nonprofit advocacy work to
the point that many groups will no longer be able to serve their
constituents. The drive goes beyond examining the use of
federal money to 1) constraining the use of private funds, 2)
limiting the association with others that do advocacy work, and
3) bounty hunting by offering a reward for the discovery
noncompliance. By using the term "advocacy" instead of
"lobbying" this net covers a much broader range of activities
than are restricted by current legislation. Those receiving
federal loans, contracts, or tax subsidies (the vast majority
being for-profits) will not be required to adhere to these
restrictions - confirming the suspicion that this legislation is
meant to silence the nonprofit community which receives >90% of
A bill sponsored by Reps. Istook (R-OK), McIntosh (R-IN), and
Ehrlich (R-MD) passed the House committee on August 4. This legislation
is housed in Title VI of the Labor and Health and Human Service
Appropriations Bill (HR 2127). Istook is also trying to attach
the proposal to the appropriations bill that covers Treasury,
Postal Service and General Government. Since that bill is now
in the House-Senate conference committee, it is no longer
subject to public debate. Should it fail there, the Labor and
HHS Appropriations Bill awaits around the corner.
The report "Back Door Extremism: Misusing the Appropriations
Process to Gut Public Protections" by the Citizens for Sensible
Safeguards is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-234-8494 and
The Dismantling of the Commerce Department
In a proposed effort to save $8 billion over five years, HR 1756
would dismantle Commerce, farming most of its functions out to 16
other agencies and eliminating its funding grant programs
altogether. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, having fought hard
against this measure, claims that this move would eliminate the
President's only voice in telecom policymaking circles. It
would relocate many of the telecommunication functions to the
FCC and eliminate the TIIAP grant program. Brown predicts that
this move would, in fact, cost $1.5 million over five years.
Rep. Markey (D-MA) managed to keep NTIA's domestic,
international, spectrum, and research functions together in a
newly created US Trade Administration.
The Senate bill, S 929, would eliminate seven agencies within
the department, and would create a new agency within the
Executve branch - the US Trade Administration which would take
over the trade-related functions. The Senate Apropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and State, and Related
Agencies reduces the National Telecommunicatins and Information
Administration (NTIA) by 82% from the President's FY '96 request
which eliminates the TIIAP grant program and leaves very little
to spectrum management and the Public Telecommunicaitons
Facilities Program (PTFP). In addtion, funds appropriated for
this year's round of TIIAP grants would be rescinded as they
have not yet been disbursed. Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) may
attempt to restore the TIIAP funding through an amendment when
the bill reaches the floor.
The President has vowed to veto any bill that calls for
Intellectual Property Report
The Department of Commerce has released the Clinton
Administration's "white paper" on intellectual property rights.
This report was produced by the Information Infrastructure TAsk
Force (IITF) and was released by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
It is intended to "examine the intellectual property
implications of the NII and make recommendations on any
appropriate changes to the U.S. intellectual propoerty law and
policy" (from the executive summary). The report was developed
using a process which included public hearings in three cities,
1500 pages of documents submitted by individuals representing
over 425,000 members of the public. It found that the patent,
trademark, and trade secret laws are adequate for now. The
Copyright Act is largely adequate but needs a few amendments to
bring it up to date with the new technologies.
The American Library Association faults the report on the
1. It focuses almost entirely on the commercial potential of the
NII and the protecton of copyright owners as the basis of
copyright law. The ALA contends that it is the wide
dissemination of ideas that provides the underpinnings of the
First Amendment and Constitutional language on intellectual
2. An emphasis on the restriction of use as the means to
encourage productivity. ALA argues that much creativity is built
on that of others.
3. School and library use is not adequately covered in the
establishment of licensing arrangements and further work must be
done to clarify the use of digital technology to expand distance
learning opportunities in the digital domain.
Other criticism includes the inadequate attention paid to
international issues, liability of on-line providers, and
Industry has given a "thumbs-up" to the report.
The 238 page white paper can be obtained with a mail request to
"Intellectual Property and the NII" c/o Terri Southwick, Office
of Legislative and Congressional Affairs, Patent and Trademark
Office, Box 4, Washington, DC 20231. Or - www.uspto.gov, goper
to iipf.doc.gov, or call 703-305-8341.
Material taken from the Washington Telecom Week, the September
1,8,15, and 22 issues, were used in this report.
The coming year will witness many more spectrum auctions. As
wireless technologies rush into the marketplace they hit an
arena of spectrum distribution that is undergoing serious
reconstruction. Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS) include
services such as cellular mobile telephone service, non-private
paging service, air-ground service, satellite systems for mobile
communications, commercial dispatch, maritime services, and
personal communications services. In order to allow this
industry to flourish and to develop interconnectivity, old
regulations are seen as constraining and the government is
attempting to offload its oversight responsibilities while
generating revenues to lighten its financial woes. With
de-regulation around the corner for the telecommunications
industry, wireless service holds much promise for bringing real
competition into areas of telephony, cable, and broadcast
Currently the government has access to 94.5% of the spectrum
below 300 GHz. 93.1% of that must be shared with with the
private sector. The private sector has exclusive access to the
other 5.5% and the government has exclusive access to 1.4%. The
shared spectrum is coordinated by the NTIA and FCC.
Use of the spectrum for public safety applications falls within
the 2 GHz band and under the auction rules can be bumped from
its portion of spectrum if a private concern wants it. The move
to another portion of spectrum is to be financed by the buyer.
Obviously, this arrangement has public safety officials
concerned, especially since two public safety entities may wind
up vying for the same portion. The costs to move around are
high and the Association of Public Safety Communications
Officers are anxious to use some of the revenues generated from
the auctions to help finance this restructuring. Until now
auction revenues have gone into the general revenue fund.
This year's budget task has charged Congressional committees
with generating specific sums of money to help balance the
budget. The Commerce committee is required to find $14
million. Many in Commerce see auction revenues as a simple
means of achieving that goal. They would like to auction extra
spectrum currently reserved for the broadcast industry as it
makes its switch from analog to digital (HDTV) TV. Broadcasters
were given this spectrum in 1990 with a 15 year time period
within which to make the switch. At the end of that period they
are to give back the analog channel. Much concern had been
expressed by the public interest community over this seeming
giveaway of spectrum, especially since new technologies allow
much more to travel over the same amount of spectrum and since
broadcasters are now arguing that they want to use it for
applications other than HDTV development. Commerce Chairman
Larry Pressler (R-SD) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) are much in
favor of extracting their $14m out of this chunk. Sen. Ernest
Hollings (D-SC), ranking Democrat, however, is much opposed
arguing heavily for the need to develop HDTV and generally
disapproving of this whole approach to balancing the budget.
Apparently Hollings won. The bill now looks much more like the
House approach which is to dip into 20 MHz of government
spectrum for auction and leave the broadcast portion alone.
There's always next year.
Contention is developing over what to do with the only remaining
Direct Broadcast Satellite licenses. Currently these licenses
are held by the Advanced Communications Corp. but little has
been done with them. This is very desirable spectrum and
includes 27 channels - yet the FCC plans to sell it to a
consortium of cable companies for $5 million - a steal. Sen.
John McCain (R-AZ), with the support of Sen. Larry Pressler
(R-SD), intends to propose auctioning the spectrum instead.
This move is strongly supported by the telephone industry but
Sen. Hollings (D-SC) is likely to oppose it.
Kerry Smith, Lecturer, School of Information & Library Studies,
Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, PERTH, WESTERN
AUSTRALIA 6001. phone (09) 351 7217 fax (09) 351 3152