Information Technologies – Documents on the Web –
High-Speed Services for Internet Access: Status as of June 30, 2006
Industry Analysis and Technology Division. Wireline Competition Bureau. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). January 2007. 26 pages.
High-speed lines connecting homes and businesses to the Internet increased by 26% during the first half of 2006, from 51.2 million to 64.6 million lines in service, compared to a 21% increase, from 42.4 million to 51.2 million lines, during the second half of 2005. For the full twelve-month period ending June 30, 2006, high-speed lines increased by 52% (or 22.2 million lines). The presence of high-speed service subscribers was reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and in 99% of the Zip Codes in the United States.
HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Early Efforts Initiated but Comprehensive Privacy Approach Needed for National Strategy
Government Accountability Office (GAO). January 2007. 57 pages.
The expanding implementation of health information technology (IT) and electronic health information exchange networks raises concerns regarding the extent to which the privacy of individuals’ electronic health information is protected. In April 2004, President Bush called for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and implement a strategic plan to guide the nationwide implementation of health IT. The plan was to recommend methods to ensure the privacy of electronic health information. GAO was asked to describe HHS’s efforts to ensure privacy as part of its national strategy and to identify challenges associated with protecting electronic personal health information. To do this, GAO assessed relevant HHS privacy-related initiatives and analyzed information from health information organizations.
Copyright Protection of Digital Television: The Broadcast Video Flag
Brian T. Yeh. Congressional Research Service (CRS). January 11, 2007. 11 pages.
In November 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a rule that required all digital devices capable of receiving digital television (DTV) broadcasts over the air, and sold after July 1, 2005, to incorporate technology that would recognize and abide by the broadcast video flag, a content-protection signal that broadcasters may choose to embed into a digital broadcast transmission as a way to prevent unauthorized redistribution of DTV content. This report provides a brief explanation of the broadcast video flag and its relationship to digital television. The report also examines a legislative proposal introduced in the 109th Congress, the Digital Content Protection Act of 2006, which appeared as portions of two bills, S. 2686 and H.R. 5252 (as reported in the Senate), that would have expressly granted statutory authority to the FCC under the Communications Act of 1934 to promulgate regulations implementing a broadcast video flag system. Although not enacted, these bills represent approaches to authorizing the broadcast video flag system that may be of interest to the 110th Congress.
“Spam:” An Overview of Issues Concerning Commercial Electronic Mail
Patricia Moloney Figliola. Congressional Research Service (CRS). January 3, 2007. 32 pages.
Spam, also called unsolicited commercial email (UCE) or “junk email,” aggravates many computer users. Not only can spam be a nuisance, but its cost may be passed on to consumers through higher charges from Internet service providers who must upgrade their systems to handle the traffic. Also, some spam involves fraud, or includes adult-oriented material that offends recipients or that parents want to protect their children from seeing. Proponents of UCE insist it is a legitimate marketing technique that is protected by the First Amendment, and that some consumers want to receive such solicitations.
RESEARCH CENTER REPORTS:
Lee Rainie. The Pew Internet & American Life Project. Data Memo. January 31, 2007. 9 pages.
Just as the Internet allows users to create and share their own media, it is also enabling them to organize digital material their own way, rather than relying on pre-existing formats of classifying information. A December 2006 survey has found that 28% of Internet users have tagged or categorized content online such as photos, news stories or blog posts. On a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorize online content. The report features an interview with David Weinberger, a prominent blogger and fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
Election 2006 Online
Lee Rainie and John B. Horrigan. The Pew Internet & American Life Project. Report. January 17, 2007. 33 pages.
Twice as many Americans used the Internet as their primary source of news about the 2006 campaign compared with the most recent mid-term election in 2002. Some 15% of all American adults say the Internet was the place where they got most of their campaign news during the election, up from 7% in the mid-term election of 2002. A post-election survey shows that the 2006 race also produced a notable class of online political activists. Some 23% of those who used the Internet for political purposes -- the people we call campaign Internet users -- actually created or forwarded online original political commentary or politically-related videos.
Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview
Amanda Lenhart and Mary Madden. The Pew Internet & American Life Project. Data Memo. January 7, 2007. 10 pages.
A social networking site is an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions of Internet users. More than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites, according to a new national survey of teenagers. The survey also finds that older teens, particularly girls, are more likely to use these sites. For girls, social networking sites are primarily places to reinforce pre-existing friendships; for boys, the networks also provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends.
Implementing the EU Copyright Directive in the Digital Age
Urs Gasser & Silke Ernst. Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. December 2006. 27 pages.
Today, years after intense struggles, almost all EU Member States have transposed the EU-Copyright Directive (EUCD) into national law. The continuing controversies surrounding the EUCD itself, however, and conflicts about the national implementations have made clear that we are far from having reached a consensus about the appropriate design of copyright law for the digital age that satisfies -- or better, serves the interests of -- all relevant stakeholders, including creators, artists, teachers, students, and the public at large. At a time where the existing EU copyright framework is under review, this best practice guide seeks to provide a set of specific recommendations for accession states and candidate countries that will or may face the challenge of transposing the EUCD in the near future. It is based on a collaborative effort to take stock of national implementations of the EUCD and builds upon prior studies and reports that analyze the different design choices that Member States have made.
THINK TANK OPINION AND ANALYSIS:
Localizing the Internet: Five Ways Public Ownership Solves the U.S. Broadband Problem
Becca Vargo Daggett. Institute for Local Self-Reliance. January 2007. 32 pages
Local governments have taken the lead in U.S. broadband policy. Hundreds of communities of all sizes are making decisions about how to best deliver universal, affordable access to high-speed information networks. Many are offered seemingly attractive arrangements with no upfront cost to the city. They do themselves and their households and businesses a disservice if they do not seriously explore the costs and benefits of a publicly owned network. In this report, the authors highlight five arguments for public ownership: high-speed information networks are essential public infrastructure; public ownership ensures competition; publicly owned networks can generate significant revenue; public ownership can ensure universal access; and public ownership can ensure non-discriminatory networks.
Hold Off on Net Neutrality
David Farber and Michael L. Katz. AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. January 2007.
The Internet needs a makeover. Congress failed to pass legislation amid rancorous debate last summer, but recently a group of senators reintroduced several initiatives under the banner of "network neutrality." Network neutrality is supposed to promote continuing Internet innovation by restricting the ability of network owners to give certain traffic priority based on the content or application being carried or on the sender's willingness to pay. The problem is that these restrictions would prohibit practices that could increase the value of the Internet for customers.
AT&T-BellSouth Merger: Regulation Through the Backdoor
James L. Gattuso. The Heritage Foundation. January 6, 2007.
The fight over neutrality rules -- which would bar network owners from charging content providers (such as e-bay and Amazon.com) extra for premium access to their networks -- has been simmering on Capitol Hill for close to a year. In its most recent session, Congress declined to regulate. Nonetheless, two members of the FCC insisted that neutrality regulation be imposed on AT&T as a condition of its approval of the proposed merger.