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George Washington University to Host Debate Over Using DNS to Curtail Bad Behavior Online on 1-25-12

On Wed., Jan. 25, 2012, starting at noon, the GWU Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute will host a debate on a very controversial topic both inside and outside the Beltway – the use of DNS to curtail bad behavior regarding copyright and trademark infringement.

The debaters are David Sohn, Senior Policy Counsel of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), and Paul Brigner, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).


U.S. Supreme Court Releases Decision in United States vs. Jones - Warrant Required for GPS Tracking

Today, the United States Supreme Court released a decision that is being hailed as a victory for personal privacy.


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FCC to Reform Universal Service Fund Contribution Methodology - EDUCAUSE Will Fight for Higher Education

A federal program called the Universal Service Fund (USF) collects money by “taxing” interstate and international telephone bills.  This spring, the FCC is likely to start a further rulemaking in WC Docket No. 06-122 to reform the USF contribution mechanism and it could have very large negative effects on colleges and universities.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) listed this effort as a major goal under USF reform.  See Recommendation 8.10 (the FCC should broaden the universal service contribution base) on P. 149 of the NBP (

FCC Seeks Comments on "Interoperable" Video Conferencing and Other Provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010

The FCC seeks comments on new provisions to the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, related to the law that strives to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the communications technologies of the 21st Century (known as the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.)

Comments are due on February 13, 2012, and Reply Comments are due on March 14, 2012.

The issues teed up for discussion include:

  • * “interoperable” video conferencing services,
  • * video mail services,
  • * accessibility of information content,
  • * small entity exemption,
  • * electronically mediated services,
  • * mobile phone browser functionality, and
  • * accessibility Application Programming Interface software.


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FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Holds Forum on Distributed Antenna Systems and Small Cell Solutions on 2/1/12

On February 1, 2012, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau will host a public forum at their HQ facilities to provide an overview of distributed antenna systems and small cell technologies that help to augment broadband and wireless services on campus, particularly in-building systems.  I will attend the forum and report on my findings.


Obama Administration Urges Removal of DNS Provisions in Federal Online Piracy Legislation

In a somewhat surprising response to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) announcement on Jan. 13, 2012, that he was going to remove the DNS provisions from the SOPA bill (H.R. 3261) (see:, and in response to two petitions opposing the bill, the Obama Administration released a statement on Jan. 14, that said, “Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Drops DNS Provisions from SOPA Legislation

Breaking News:

For Immediate Release: January 13, 2012                                    Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951

Smith to Remove DNS Blocking from SOPA

Retains Strong Provisions to Protect American Technology and Consumers

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today said he plans to remove a provision in the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261<>) that requires Internet Service Providers to block access to certain foreign websites.

ICANN Will Move Forward with Release of New Generic Top-Level Domains

In a move fraught with controversy, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will move forward with its plan to increase the number of generic top-level domains (gTLDs).  Thursday Jan. 12, 2012, will be the first day that ICANN will accept applications for the new gTLDs.  There are currently 22 gTLDs, including .com, .edu, .org, and .net.  Applicants for a new gTLD must pay $185,000 for an evaluation fee ($5,000 at the time of filing) of its application.

Members of Congress, the FTC, the NTIA, and others have expressed concerns that many companies and organizations believe that they will need to file defensive applications during the pending application window in order to protect their trademarks.  Here is a sampling of letters raising such concerns:

International Telecommunications Union Approves Worldwide SmartGrid Standards

The ITU has approved two worldwide SmartGrid recommended standards – G.9955 and G.9956 – regarding next generation narrowband powerline communications (NB-PLC) that are intended to kick-start the market.

On Dec. 21, 2011, the ITU ratified a family of international NB-PLC standards that will enable cost-effective SmartGrid applications, such as distribution automation, diagnostic and fault location, smart metering, demand response, energy management, smart appliances, grid-to-home communications and advanced recharging systems for electric vehicles.


FCC Releases Interim Rules for Migratory Birds Proceeding After Court Remand

The FCC, on Dec. 9, 2011, released interim rules (FCC 11-181) in response to a remand from the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in American Bird Conservancy v. FCC (516 F.3d 1027, D.C. Cir. 2008).  In this case, the court held that the FCC’s antenna structure registration (ASR) procedures failed to offer members of the public a meaningful opportunity to request an Environmental Assessment (EA) for proposed communications towers that the FCC would categorically exclude from any reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Thus, the FCC took the following actions in the Remand Order:

1.  Requires ASR applicants to provide notice to the public to comment on environmental effects of the proposal prior to the filing of a completed application;


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