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Status Update on Data Privacy Legislation

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved three bills on Thursday, September 22nd aimed at setting national standards for security breaches involving personal data.   The bills were the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011 (S. 1151) introduced by Sen. Leahy (D-VT), the Data Breach Notification Act of 2011 (S. 1408) introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), and the Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act of 2011 (S. 1535) introduced by Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT). 

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President Signs Patent Reform Law

Today, September 16, 2011, President Obama signed the America Invents Act, the first major revision of the patent system in almost 60 years.  The legislation had strong support from many higher education groups since it should enable universities to more easily and more competitively transfer research innovations into the commercial sector (see blog post of 9-9-11). 

At today’s signing, the President also announced efforts to help research institutions and universities monetize their inventions.  These initiatives include:

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Google Announces Accessibility Improvements for Visually Challenged Users

Google has announced a new initiative to increase accessibility for visually challenged users on its major Web services.  At the outset of a new school year, Google is rolling out accessibility improvements to Docs, Sites and Calendars.  Google is hosting a live webinar for enterprise customers - which include educational institutions - on Wednesday, September 21 at 12:00 pm (Pacific Time).

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The Orphan Works Controversy Heats Up Again

On Monday, September 12th, the Authors Guild filed a copyright infringement suit against the HathiTrust, a non-profit digital repository partnership between major research institutions and libraries, the University of Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and Cornell University.  The suit alleges that the HathiTrust and the universities are violating the rights of rightsholders by systematically digitizing, storing, and distributing copies of books held by these institutions without permission.

What’s on Washington’s Technology Agenda?

Congress and other Washington policy makers have returned to work after the August recess where they face a number of technology policy issues.  The Center for Democracy and Technology has published a top ten list of these issues, including Protect IP, privacy, data retention, cybersecurity, ECPA, and more.  EDUCAUSE has been following many of these issues and reporting on them as developments occur.  We will continue to do so throughout the fall term.

Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

Intellectual property and information policy experts from around the world recently met in Washington, DC and have released the Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest that challenges the dominant direction of the negotiations on intellectual property in U.S. trade agreements. 

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Congress Approves Historic Patent Legislation

The Senate approved the first major overhaul of the United States patent system in nearly 60 years, voting 89-9 on Thursday, September 8th to send the America Invents Act of 2011 to the President for signature.

The bill changes the U.S. patent system by creating a “first-to-file” system, which will clarify and simplify the application process and harmonize the patent system with global trading partners.  Provisions in the new law will improve patent quality and reduce patent litigation costs, including expanding the opportunity for the public to submit information to the Patent and Trademark Office concerning patents under examination that could eliminate weak patents and strengthen those patents that survive a challenge.

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Data Privacy Legislation: A Policy Brief

With the ubiquity of mobile devices and the increases in data breaches, Congress has responded with bi-partisan support for comprehensive privacy legislation.  As of August 2011, 18 bills have been introduced in Congress concerning data privacy.  The EDUCAUSE Policy Analysis and Advocacy Program Policy Brief: “Data Privacy Legislation: An Analysis of the Current Legislative Landscape and the Implications for Higher Education” analyzes these various pieces of legislation.  If enacted, many of the bills have implications for data collection, storage, and use that could affect campus IT operations and academic research.

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Workshop on Research Data Lifecycle Management

This NSF-funded workshop, a collaboration between the EDUCAUSE ACTI Campus Cyberinfrastructure Group and the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC), took place July 18 –20, 2011 at Princeton University.

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Streaming Legislation

Earlier this spring, Victoria Espinel, the U.S Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, produced a “White Paper” (see May 11th blog) that detailed a number of intellectual property enforcement recommendations to Congress.   One of those recommendations: Congress should “clarify that [copyright] infringement by streaming . . . is a felony in appropriate circumstances.”  

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