Recent Congressional Studies for the National Telecommunications
and Information Administration
Congress in recent years has authorized the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Department of Commerce certain mandates.
As a result of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, NTIA is required to consult with the Register of Copyrights regarding infringing uses of copyright material; NTIA is required to consult with the Register of Copyrights and report to Congress on the Act's effect on encryption, technological measures and protection of copyright owners; and consult with the Register of Copyrights and report to Congress on the development of electronic commerce and associated technology.
As a result of the Next Generation Internet Research Act of 1998, the Secretary of Commerce is directed to sponsor a National Academy of Sciences study that will look at the effects on trademark rights of adding new top-level domain names and make recommendations on how best to protect trademarks in the growing cyberspace economy.
Congress authorized $800,000 for this study; however, no funds were appropriated. NTIA is the lead government agency carrying out the Presidential directive on Electronic Commerce supporting efforts to make the governance of the domain name system private and competitive. NTIA is working towards creating a contractually based self-regulatory regime that deals with potential conflicts between domain name usage and trademark laws on a global basis.
As a result of the International Anti-Bribery and Fair Competition
Act of 1998, the Secretary of Commerce is required to report to Congress
on July 1, 1999, and each year for 5 years thereafter, with respect to
implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Among other things,
the Secretary is required to report on advantages, in terms of immunities,
market access, or otherwise, in the countries or regions served by Intelsat
and Inmarsat, the reason for such advantages, and an assessment of progress
towards a procompetitive privatization of these organizations. NTIA has
been tasked as the lead for the Department on the Secretary's report to
Potential Studies Proposed by Congress
H.R. 1554, the Satellite Copyright, Competition, and Consumer Protection Act, passed by the House on April 27, 1999, directs NTIA and the Register of Copyrights to submit to Congress a joint study on technical and economic impacts of the must-carry obligations on delivery of local signals. The study would be due to Congress on July 1, 2000.
H.R. 1714, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, introduced by House Commerce Committee Chairman Bliley on May 6, would, among other things, require NTIA to report to Congress, within 180 days, and annually thereafter, identifying foreign barriers to commerce in electronic signatures. Second, the bill would direct NTIA to promote the acceptance and use internationally of electronic signatures, and take such actions as necessary to eliminate or reduce impediments to commerce in electronic signatures. Third, the bill would direct NTIA within three years after enactment, to conduct an inquiry regarding State statutes, regulations, or other rules of law enacted or adopted after enactment and the extent to which statutes, comply with statute.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman McCain has indicated he will introduce soon legislation that will require NTIA, in collaboration with the FCC, to analyze the facts and the issues involved in the ongoing deployment of advanced broadband data networks, especially in rural and low-income areas, and report findings to Congress.