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CRS Report of the Week – Science and Technology Policymaking: A primer

The report begins with an overview of U.S. science and technology policy, followed by explanations on who makes the policy, what organizations provide information on policy, and the challenges that policymaking presents. CRS No. RL34454, April 22, 2008. From the Report’s Summary: Several organizations, when requested by the federal government or Congress, provide formal science and technology policy advice: federal…

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Does “Targeting” Authorize the Vacuum Cleaner?

Does the new FISA bill authorize wholesale interception of all communications to and from the US, or does it only authorize the interception of the communications of particular individuals? In either case, the legislation affects Americans, because some of the intercepted communications of persons abroad will be with people in the United States. Also, in either case, the…

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FOIA Brain Teaser: When Is An Agency Not An Agency?

A judge ruled this week that the Office of Administration (OA), part of the Executive Office of the President (EOP), is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests because it is not an “agency” under the law. The ruling adds to the inconsistent and somewhat arbitrary set of determinations on what is and what is not an FOIA agency….

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CRS Report of the Week: Reauthorization of the E-Government Act

From the report’s summary: Building upon the Clinger-Cohen Act, the E-Government Act serves as the primary legislative vehicle to guide evolving federal IT management practices and to promote initiatives to make government information and services available online. In doing so, it also represents a continuation of efforts to realize greater efficiencies and reduce redundancies through improved intergovernmental coordination, and…

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Too Much of that First Amendment Thing?

Isn’t it about time for the U.S. wake up and fall in line with the rest of world when it comes to placing restrictions on certain kinds of speech? Why, in a world so volatile and fraught with religious and ethnic tension, does the U.S. stand alone in providing a safe harbor for speech that oozes with hate, incitement…

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Reporting from the front lines: the COPA oral argument

In Philadelphia today I attended the oral argument in the seemingly-never-ending case in which the “Child Online Protection Act” (COPA) has repeatedly been found to be unconstitutional. Chris Hansen, lead counsel in the case for the ACLU, presented an superb argument to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (as detailed more…

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Debating Watermarking and Privacy

CDT’s recent paper on digital watermarks and privacy got some positive reviews here and here; however, it also prompted criticism from Timothy Lee on ars technica. Lee argues that the paper “misses the point” because it does not come out and say that individualized watermarks — watermarks that correspond to individual users, devices, or…

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From Transition to Transition

Political affiliation and rhetoric aside, there is an undeniable excitement underlying this election cycle. The political process has finally found the alchemy of the Internet that has eluded all previous attempts and found a way to draw in voters. The Internet is largely responsible for putting a sense of empowerment for people back into the political process and that…

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Does Phorm Fit?

Last week, the European Commission issued an answer to several queries regarding Phorm, a U.K. company that uses Internet traffic data to serve targeted advertisements. Phorm has proposed partnerships with some of the United Kingdom’s largest ISPs that allow Phorm to use deep packet inspection (DPI) to create profiles of individual consumers’ Web habits. Several members of the European…

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An Unfortunate (and I hope temporary) Change of Heart …

The year was 1995 and the biggest threat to Internet free speech was a bill called the “Communications Decency Act.” If passed, the bill threatened to criminalize all manner of constitutionally protected speech under the guise of keeping “indecent” material from being viewed by children. Momentum for passage of the bill was enormous. The bill passed…

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