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EFFector - Volume 5, Issue 13 - Online Congressional Hearings Postponed


EFFector - Volume 5, Issue 13 - Online Congressional Hearings Postponed

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EFFector Online Volume 5 No. 13       7/23/1993
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation   ISSN 1062-9424

                        In this issue:
             Online Congressional Hearings Postponed
             Summary of New Infrastructure Bill
             EFF Joins Telecommunications Policy Roundtable

Online Congressional Hearing Postponed

In the last issue of EFFector Online (Volume 5, Number 12, July 7, 1993),
we announced an upcoming online Congressional hearing to be held over the
Internet on July 26 at 9:30AM EDT.  Unfortunately, this event has been
postponed until October or November.  The following note from Internet Town
Hall organizer Carl Malamud explains:

"I wanted to explain a bit more my understanding of why we
are delaying the congressional hearings.  Please be very
clear that I do not represent the committee and that this
explanation is being sent in my capacity as the organizer
of the Internet Town Hall.

"The Internet Town Hall depends on voluntary donations from a
large number of parties.  For this Internet Town Hall, we've
had a tremendous outpouring of support from groups such as
O'Reilly & Associates, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, ARPA, Empirical
Tools and Technologies, BBN, UUNET, Metropolitan Fiber Systems,
and many others.

"The purpose of this broad coalition is to demonstrate how the
Internet works and how the Internet can be made to work in the
congressional process.  We wanted to make the point that there
exists a general-purpose infrastructure that allows everything
from email to IRC chat to WAIS databases to the World Wide Web
to be accessed.

"One of the key things we wanted to show the Congress was how 
audio and video can work over a general purpose infrastructure 
such as the Internet.  Rather than transmit video over the key 
transit networks, which tend to get overloaded during events 
such as the Internet Town Hall, ARPA had agreed to furnish the 
use of DARTNET, the experimental advanced research network they 

"The underlying transmission facilities for DARTNET are operated
by Sprint.  In order for the National Press Club, the headquarters
site for the hearing, to be part of DARTNET we required a T1
line from our facility to the Sprint point of presence a few
blocks away.  We had requested Sprint to provide that T1 line
and become part of the Internet Town Hall.

"In the course of examining our request, Sprint postulated that
furnishing a T1 line for a congressional hearing might violate
congressional ethics laws.  There are in fact laws on the books
that prohibit members of Congress or its committees from accepting
in-kind donations over a certain value under certain circumstances.
Sprint forwarded their concerns to the House Ethics Committee,
and then later informed the Subcommittee on Telecommunications
and Finance and my organization of their actions.

"Needless to say, there are technical alternatives to the T1 line
that we asked Sprint to furnish.  In fact, a single call to
Metropolitan Fiber Systems resulted in a 10 Mbps virtual Ethernet
using ATM between Washington, D.C. and Boston which is available 
for the hearing when it does occur.

"Even though the technical issue is solved, there still remains
the ethics concern.  We firmly believe that a broad industry/government
group volunteering time and money to show how the congressional
process can be changed to include more input from the general
public to be in the public interest.  However, we are equally
adamant that *ANY* ethical concerns *MUST* be cleared before
we proceed with the hearings.

"The crux of the issue has to do with in-kind contributions.  If
you are testifying before Congress, it is clearly allowed to bring
in computers.  However, a donation to the underlying infrastructure
of the congressional committee might be construed as an expense
that must be reimbursed by the committee to the donor.  The purpose
of such laws is to establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that
the congressional process is clean and not subject to the undue
influence of a particular interest group.

"We will spend the next few months describing to congressional
officials exactly what we have in mind for the hearings.  Since this
will be a historical occasion, there is no precedent for on-line
hearings.  We want to make sure that everybody is very comfortable
with the issues and that officials believe that there is public
benefit in such a demonstration.

"I'd like to thank all the volunteers for their time and effort
to date.  A tremendous amount of behind the scenes efforts has
already taken place and we're hoping to salvage some of that
effort so we don't have to start from scratch.  I'd also like
to thank everybody on the network who sent in letters.  The
Subcommittee and Congressman Markey were truly impressed at
the volume and the quality of the commentary from the public
through e-mail and are looking forward to a successful on-line
hearing later in the year.

"BTW, we're keeping open ... no sense
in cutting off communication!

Carl Malamud
Internet Multicasting Service"

Telecommunications Infrastructure Act of 1993 (S. 1086)

Introduced by Senators Danforth and Inouye on June 9, 1993
First hearing scheduled: July 14, 9:30 AM

A Summary by the Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Senate Communications Subcommittee is now in the process of 
considering legislation that would eliminate the legal monopoly that 
local telephone companies have on local phone service, allow any 
communications provider to offer local phone service, and allow local 
telephone companies to compete fully in the cable television market.  
The legislation's goal is to promote increased investment in the 
nation's telecommunications infrastructure.

The bill proposes many significant policy changes, chief among 
which is a very rapid move toward deregulating the local telephone 
companies' monopoly on local telephone service.  The policies proposed 
are laid out in broad concepts, leaving the Federal Communications 
Commission to wrestle with the actual implementation of the policies.


One year after the bill is enacted, any company would be allowed 
to offer local telephone service.  Potential new entrants that would be 
allowed in the local exchange market under this bill include cable 
television companies, wireless service providers, and even Bell 
companies outside their current local exchange monopoly areas.  Any 
State laws that would preserve the current telephone company monopoly 
or limit the entry of competitors are pre-empted by the bill.


Any company that offers telecommunications service or is 
interconnected with the local exchange carrier's network has several 
obligations under this bill.  The definition of telecommunications 
service is somewhat vague, but it certainly includes voice telephone 
service, interactive data services used to carry information services, 
and possibly one-way video services such as those currently provided by 
cable television companies.  Carriers' obligations include:

1. Interconnection

All carriers that either provide telecommunications service or are 
interconnected with a carrier that provides telecommunications 
service must allow other carriers to interconnect with their network 
for the purpose of providing telecommunications or information services 
to users of either network.  Network operators must provide 
interconnection under nondiscriminatory terms, on an unbundled basis.  
Operators must also supply all necessary technical information to enable 
others to interconnect and interoperate from one network to another.

2. Universal Service

All providers of telecommunications service must contribute to the 
"preservation and advancement of universal service."  States, in 
cooperation with the FCC, are responsible to make regulations that 
establish the mechanism for supporting universal service in the newly 
competitive telephone market.  The bill does provide, however, that any 
universal service support should be given directly to "individuals and 
entities that cannot afford the cost" of telecommunications service.  
Subsidy for users' communications equipment is also allowed.

3. Number Portability

The FCC will establish regulations the provide for "portable" 
numbers from all carriers as soon as possible.  Thus, a customer could 
switch telecommunications providers without having to change telephone 
numbers.  The administration of the numbering system would be removed 
from Bellcore and placed with an "impartial entity."


The bill recognizes that in a competitive market environment, 
rural and "noncompetitive markets" may not enjoy the level of investment 
necessary for providing advanced telecommunications services.  The 
minimum level of service desired in the bill is that which would 
"provide subscribers with sufficient network capacity to access to 
information services that provide a combination of voice, data, image, 
and video; and are available at nondiscriminatory rates that are based 
on the reasonably identifiable costs of providing such services."  It is 
not clear that such services would be interactive.  State regulators would 
be given the primary responsibility to ensure that carriers have an 
incentive to provide high-quality services to all areas.  If this 
approach fails, the FCC is empowered to take action to have necessary 
service delivered to these areas.


All segments of the communications industry are encouraged to work 
together to set voluntary standards for interconnection and 
interoperability.  If the FCC determines that standards development is 
not succeeding or is proceeding too slowly, it may set incentives or 
deadlines for work to be completed.  The FCC may also impose mandatory 
standards if the voluntary process fails.  

The FCC and the States are required to ensure that advanced 
telecommunications services are designed to be accessible to people with 


The current ban preventing local telephone companies from entering 
the cable television market is lifted, in part.  Local phone companies 
will be allowed, under the bill, to provide cable television service 
within their serving area, if the service is provided by a 
separate subsidiary and the phone company does not break any laws 
regarding improper cross-subsidization between phone service and cable 
services.  By the same token, cable companies that provide 
telecommunications service must do so through separate subsidiaries and 
obey laws regarding cross-subsidization.  Phone companies are still not 
allowed to purchase more than 5 percent interest in any cable system 
that provides services within the phone companies' service regions.


The restrictions on local phone companies against providing long 
distance (InterLATA) telecommunications service are lifted, in part, by 
the bill, to enable local phone companies to function more easily in the 
cable television and cellular phone markets.  Bell companies would be 
allowed to operate wireline and satellite links for the purposes of 
distributing cable television signals over long distances.  Some 
relaxation of the InterLATA restriction is also allowed to enable Bell 
companies to carry cellular phone calls from one region to another, and 
to hand off calls from one cellular system to another.  


Bell companies that provide information services must do so 
through a separate subsidiary in order to prevent cross-subsidies that 
would be unfair to consumers of basic phone service and to information 
service competitors.  The separate subsidiary must maintain separate 
books and records, only engage in arms-length transactions with the Bell 
company, and follow other regulations that the FCC issues regarding 
accounting, tariffing, and business practices.


Telecommunications carriers are prohibited from disclosing 
information about individual customers unless there is an affirmative, 
written request to do so by that customer.  Carriers must, however, make 
any information (Customer Proprietary Network Information) that is 
disclosed available equally to their affiliates and all competitors who 
request the information.  Customer Proprietary Network Information 
includes quantity, type, and technical characteristics of 
telecommunications service used by a customer, as well as information 
contained in bills received by the customer.

[A complete copy of S.1086 is available by anonymous ftp on]
[Please direct any questions to]

EFF Joins Telecommunications Policy Roundtable

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is pleased to announce its participation
in the newly formed Telecommunications Policy Roundtable.  With market
actions fast outpacing the public policy process, it is critical that
citizens' groups articulate basic public interest goals that can help frame
the debate over information infrastructure policy.

Organizations such as the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for
Media Education, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and the
Institute for Civic Networking all played leading roles in initiating the
Roundtable.  We thank these organizations, for creating the very important
forum, in which a wide range of public interest organizations work together
to frame common communications policy goals.  In addition to general
participation in the group, EFF has agreed to focus its efforts on the
public policy and legislative strategy taskforce of the Roundtable.

The initial announcement of the Roundtable (posted to com-priv) contained
some suggestion that EFF's work on infrastructure policy issues over the
last year was narrow and lacking in vision.  Though we have never pretended
to know, or be able to pursue, the solutions to all communications policy
problems, we do feel that we have made a significant contribution to the
infrastucture debate and to the effort to protect free speech and privacy
in new electronic media.  Some criticize our emphasis on ISDN and other
affordable digital media as too narrow.  We believe that our Open Platform
policy efforts in support of ISDN have caused a major change in the way
communications infrastructure policy is discussed.  With the example of
ISDN, we showed that citizens do not have to wait around 20 years while
RBOCs lay fiber-to-the-home.  Rather, with affordable, available
technology, those who don't own telephone networks or cable television
networks can start to create the applications and services that will shape
our experience of the information age.  Our Open Platorm efforts are aimed
at increasing the diversity of information sources, expanding the notion of
universal service, increasing access to information, and protecting
privacy. ISDN is not our final goal, but a first step that shows we should
begin to expect the benefits of digital networking technology soon, at
affordable rates, and with nondiscriminatory terms.

In order to show that we are not stuck on ISDN, either as a technology or a
policy goal, we convened a meeting of over 20 major public interest
organizations on June 1, 1993 (several weeks before the Roundtable was
announced), to discuss EFF's long-term policy concerns and to hear the views
of other groups.  A section of the paper that we prepared for that meeting
is appended to this message.  We hope that this will clarify that EFF does
have a view of communications policy goals beyond ISDN.  We certainly
invite comments on this document, but hope that in the future people who
write about our positions will take the time to read our work first. 
(Please see also an article in the July/August '93 issue of Wired Magazine
by Mitchell Kapor, EFF's Chairman of the Board, "Where Is the Digital
Highway Really Heading?  A Case for a Jeffersonian Information Policy" for
a broad statement of EFF's infrastructure vision.)

EFF has joined the Roundtable to be part of the process of framing a
comprehensive public interest communications policy.  We are looking
forward to the success of this effort.


A Framework for Discussion

by the Electronic Frontier Foundation

June 1, 1993

I.      Introduction

For over a decade, techno-prophets have been predicting the
convergence of telephone, computer and television technologies.  In this
world, endless information would be available at the touch of a button, and
many of life's chores would be simplified by artificially-intelligent
personal assistants.  The prophesied results were said to be everything
from a newfound global village enabled by democratized communications
tools, to an Orwellian multimedia, mind-numbing, thought-controlling,
consumer culture/police-state gone wild.  In the past, discussions of this
convergence has been relegated to the musings of futurists and the arcana
of telecommunications regulatory policy.  This year, however, the grand
convergence is evident both on the front pages of national magazines and
newspapers, as well as in the White House.  Telecommunications
infrastructure policy -- the management of this grand convergence -- has
arrived as a mainstream policy issue.

Most telling of all, large investments are now being made in order
to take advantage of business opportunities arising out of the convergence
of television, computers, and telecommunications.  Despite existing
regulatory barriers, a number of major corporations have undertaken major
initiatives which blur the traditional media distinctions.  Regional Bell
Operating Companies, including Bell Atlantic and US West, have announced
multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment plans that position them to
expand from the telecommunications market to the video entertainment
market.  By the same token, cable television companies are crossing over
from their traditional domain toward being able to offer telecommunications
services.  Early in 1993, Time-Warner announced plans to offer interactive
services and connections directly to long distance telephone networks for
residential customers in Orlando, FL.  Six cable television companies also
recently joined forces to purchase a company called Teleport, which
competes directly with local telephone companies.  And finally, US West
announced in May 1993 that it will purchase a multi-billion dollar stake in
Time-Warner Entertainment Partners.

All of these developments are being watched with great interest by
Congress and the Administration.  No longer is telecommunications policy a
matter of sorting out the special interests of newspaper companies,
telephone companies, and cable companies.  Rather it has been re-christened
as "information infrastructure" policy.  As such, it is recognized to have
major implications for domestic economic development, global
competitiveness, and science and technology policy.  The ultimate symbol of
this increased interest in telecommunications policy is the Vice
President's frequent declaration that the Clinton Administration is
committed to promoting the creation of electronic superhighways in the
1990s, just as the Vice President's father oversaw the construction of the
interstate highway system in the 1950s.  

Talk of superhighways and potential for new economic growth,
though, may lead some to forget that in shaping information infrastructure
policy, we must also be guided by core communications policy values.  The
"highways" that are being built here are for speech as well as for
commerce.  In order to preserve the democratic character of our society as
we move into the Information Age, these key public interest communications
policy goals must be kept at the forefront:

o       Diversity of Information Sources:  Creating an infrastructure that
promotes the First Amendment goal of availability of a maximum possible
diversity of view points;

o       Universal Service:  Ensuring a minimum level of affordable,
interactive service to all Americans;

o       Free Speech and Common Carriage:  Guaranteeing infrastructure
access regardless of the content of the message that the user is sending;

o       Privacy:  Protecting the security and privacy of all communications
carried over the infrastructure, and safeguarding the Fourth and Fifth
Amendment rights of all who use the information infrastructure;

o       Development of Public Interest Applications and Services:  Ensuring
that public interest applications and services that are not produced by
the commercial market are available and affordable.

Advances in telecommunications have tremendous potential to support all of
these important communications policy values.  In many cases, inexpensive
equipment exists that could give individuals and small organizations a
degree of control over information that has never before been possible. 
However, if not implemented with core communications values in mind, the
technology will do more harm than good.  The convergence of historically
separate communications media poses a major challenge to the public
interest community.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation hopes to play a
role with other public interest organizations in realizing the democratic
potential of these new technologies.

II.     Framing Public Interest Communications Policy Goals For The
Information Age:  What Is at Stake in the Development of the Information

A. Diversity of Information Sources

Aside from the universal service guaranty, the driving communications
policy value for the last 50 years has been promotion of the maximum
diversity of information sources, with the greatest variety of viewpoints. 
Most agree that from a diversity standpoint, the ideal environment is the
print medium.  Compared to both the broadcast and cable television arenas,
print is the vehicle for the greatest diversity of viewpoints and has the
lowest publication and distribution costs.  Despite the regulatory steps
taken to promote diversity in the mass media, the desired variety of
opinion and information has never been fully achieved.

The switched nature of advanced digital network technology offers
to end the spectrum and channel scarcity problem altogether.  If new
network services are deployed with adequate down- and up-stream capacity,
and allow point-to-point communication, then each user of the network can
be both an information consumer and publisher.  Network architecture that
is truly peer-to-peer can help produce in digital media the kind of
information diversity that only exists today only in the print media.  If
network access is guaranteed, as is the case in the public switched
telephone network, the need for content providers to negotiate for air time
and channel allocation will be eliminated.  Even in a truly interactive
network environment, the government will still need to provide financial
support to ensure that public interest programming is produced and
available, but channel set-asides per se will not be necessary.

B. Universal Service:  From Plain Old Telephone Service to Plain Old Digital

The principle of equitable access to basic services is an integral part of
this nation's public switched telephone network.  From the early history
of the telephone network, both government and commercial actors have taken
steps to ensure that access to basic voice telephone services is affordable
and accessible to all segments of society.  Since the divestiture of AT&T,
many of the internal cross-subsidies that supported the "social contract"
of universal service have fallen away.  Re-creation of old patterns of
subsidy may no longer be possible nor necessarily desirable, but serious
thought must be given to sources of funds that will guaranty that the
economically disadvantaged will still have access to basic communications

The universal service guaranty in the Communications Act of 1934
has, until now, been interpreted to mean access to "plain old telephone
service" (POTS).   In the information age, we must extend this guaranty to
include "plain old digital service."  Extending this guaranty means
ensuring that new basic digital services are affordable and ubiquitously
available.  Equity and the democratic imperative also demand that these
services meet the needs of people with disabilities, the elderly, and other
groups with special needs.  Failure to do so is sure to create a society of
information "haves" and "have nots."

C. Free Speech: Common Carriage

In a society which relies more and more on electronic communications media
as its primary conduit for expression, full support for First Amendment
values requires extension of the common carrier principle to all of these
new media.  Common carriers are companies that provide conduit services for
the general public.  The common carrier's duties have evolved over hundreds
of years in the common law and statutory provisions.  Common carriers have
a duty to:

o     provide services in a non-discriminatory manner at a fair price, 
o     interconnect with other carriers, and 
o     provide adequate services

The public must have access to digital data transport services, such as
ISDN and ADSL, which are regulated by the principles of common carriage.  

Re-shaping common carriage duties for new media environments is of
critical importance as mass media and telecommunications services converge
and recombine in new forms.  Telephone companies, the traditional providers
of common carriage communications services, are moving closer and closer to
providing video and content-based services.  By the same token, cable
television companies, which have functioned as program providers, are
showing great interest in offering telecommunications services.  In what is
sure to be an increasingly complex environment, we must ensure that common
carriage transport is available to those who want it.  

Unlike arrangements found in many countries, our communications
infrastructure is owned by private corporations, not the government. 
Therefore, a legislatively imposed expanded duty of common
carriage on public switched telephone carriers is necessary to protect free
expression effectively.  A telecommunications provider under a common
carrier obligation would have to carry any legal message, whether it is
voice, data, images, or sound, regardless of its content.  For example, if
full common-carrier protections were in place for all of the conduit services
offered by the phone company, the terminations of "controversial" 900
number services, such as political fundraising, would not be allowed, just
as the phone company is now prohibited by the Communications Act from
discriminating in the provision of basic voice telephone services.  As a
matter of law and policy, the common carriage protections should be
extended from basic voice service to cover basic data service, as well.

D. Privacy

With dramatic increases in reliance on digital media for communications, 
the need for comprehensive protection of privacy in these media grows.  
The scope of the emerging digital communications revolution poses major 
new challenges for those concerned about protecting communications 
privacy.  Communication that is carried on paper through the mail 
system, or over the wire-based public telephone network, is relatively 
secure from random intrusion by others.  But the same communication 
carried, for example, over a cellular or other wireless communication
system is vulnerable to being intercepted by anyone who has very
inexpensive, easy-to-obtain scanning technology.  As such, access to 
robust, affordable encryption technology will be critical to enable people
to protect their own privacy.  Government controls on encryption systems,
whether for law enforcement or national security reasons, raise grave
constitutional issues and could undermine individuals' ability to protect
the privacy of personal information and communications. 

For more information contact:

Electronic Frontier Foundation
1001 G St, NW
Suite 950 East
Washington, DC  20001

A complete copy of this document is available by anonymous ftp at in the file named 


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