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EFFector Online Volume 5 No. 7 4/30/1993 firstname.lastname@example.org
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062Ð9424
In this issue:
Congressman Boucher Introduces NREN Applications Bill
"Future of Computing" Program in Palo Alto, CA
Congressman Boucher Introduces NREN Applications Bill
--Offers greatly expanded vision of applications program
for widespread social benefit
by Andrew Blau
EFF Associate for Telecommunications Policy
On April 21, Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced legislation
to create computer and networking applications to serve the
education, library, and health care communities, and to promote
access to government information. The bill, H.R. 1757, significantly
expands on similar provisions found in last year's "Information
Infrastructure and Technology Act" (often referred to as "Gore II,"
then-Senator Gore's follow-up to his NREN bill, the High Performance
Computing Act ("HPCA")), and the Senate bill to promote U.S.
competitiveness, S. 4.
Boucher, who chairs the House Science Subcommittee which oversees
the NSF, has held oversight hearings on the development of the NREN
program at which EFF Chairman Mitch Kapor testified. Many of EFF's
suggestions, and the suggestions of EFF's partners in the education,
library, and health care sectors, have been included in this
*a substantial broadening of the focus of NREN to accelerate
progress toward "a universally accessible high-capacity and high
speed data network for the nation";
*a significant commitment to public libraries, K-12 schools, and
support for hardware purchases;
*the creation and inclusion of local 'civic networks' of local libraries,
schools, and local and state government offices, which would be
connected to the Internet;
*an emphasis on promoting access to government information; and
*a codification of the distinction between research and production
This bill also shifts away from the manufacturing focus of the earlier
bills; it has no provisions for manufacturing applications at all.
There are a handful of weak spots, most notably that the bill seems
to emphasize broadband connections to the Internet, which EFF
believes could drive up the costs of the connections program and
reduce the number of beneficiaries; and the lack of any coordinating
or responsible agency for the government information program, the
network security program, the privacy program or the ease of use
EFF supports the approach outlined in this bill, and will be working
to secure passage of it. We will also seek some minor modifications in
order to improve the bill at the margins -- for example, to improve
the access to information section in order to support putting federal
information online and enabling innovative non-profit groups to
make it available as demonstration projects, and to clarify that the
broadband provisions are an option, not a mandate. Overall, however,
EFF believes this is a substantive advance that merits widespread
discussion and support.
EFF will make a copy of the full text of the bill in our ftp archives
Sections 1 and 2 include the bill's title ("High Performance Computing
and High Speed Networking Applications Act of 1993") and the
Congressional findings that support the need for this legislation.
Sec. 3. Applications of the High Performance Computing Program.
Contains the major provisions, which are proposed as an amendment
to the original HPCA. Sections 301 through 305 cover administrative
Sec. 301 establishes the applications program. The bill improves on S.
4 by specifying that the applications should be "designed to be
accessible and usable by all persons in the United States"; adds the
provision of government information to the program purposes, and
mandates that the Plan to create applications must take into account
the recommendations of the High Performance Computing Advisory
Committee, which this bill also mandates will include representatives
of the research, K-12, higher education, and library communities,
consumer and public interest groups, network providers, and the
computer, telecommunications and information industries.
Sec. 302 describes the Plan to implement the program. The Plan
must: (a) be submitted within one year and revised at least once
every two years; (b) include goals and priorities, specific
responsibilities of agencies and departments to meet goals,
recommend funding levels to departments; and (c) include progress
reports, evaluations and recommendations.
Sec. 303 describes the role of the Federal Coordinating Committee for
Science, Engineering, and Technology (FCCSET) for coordination
among agencies and budget review.
Sec. 304 creates a new "Coordinator" position, which is to be chosen
from the staff of the White House Office of Science and Technology
Policy. The Coordinator is to monitor the agencies, report any
discrepancies to the OSTP Director, assist in interagency coordination,
and act as Congressional and public liaison.
Sec. 305 describes the annual reports that each agency is to submit
to OMB and OMB's review and report to the President.
The major application areas:
Sec. 306 creates a program to foster network access. This is a new
provision to create local networks of K-12 schools, libraries, state and
local governments, etc. It includes support for buying hardware and
connecting those local nets to the Internet; it also expands training to
teachers, students, librarians, government personnel to use networks
and the Internet. Note however, that the provisions specify
broadband connections, which could slow down the program,
increase the costs, and reduce the beneficiaries if institutions are not
free to choose the most appropriate-sized connection for their needs.
NSF is the lead agency. Over the next five years, it authorizes 20, 60,
70, 80 and 80 million dollars (i.e., $310 million).
Sec. 307 calls for research into security and privacy of information,
integrity of digital information, and ease of use for non specialists.
This is also a new provision with no counterpart in S. 4. It authorizes
10, 30, 35, 38, and 38 million dollars over the next five years for
these activities (i.e., $151 million). No lead agency is specified.
Sec. 308 outlines educational applications. H.R. 1757 broadens the
range of educational applications compared to S. 4, and adds
additional features to support the intent of this section. New
provisions include: support for hardware and software purchases in
order to demonstrate the educational value of the Internet; support
for systems, software and networks for "informal education"
including job training and life-long learning applications outside of
school; a mandate to address the needs of rural and urban
communities; a clearinghouse of K-12 network projects and available
educational resources; and the creation of undergraduate level
course materials for student teachers to familiarize them with the
Internet and educational uses of computer and networking
applications. Other elements are similar to or better specified
versions of provisions found in S. 4 that call for projects to enable K-
12 students and teachers to communicate with peers and university
level students and teachers, and to gain access to educational
materials and other computing resources. NSF is directed to be the
lead agency, and the section authorizes 24, 70, 82, 94 and 94 million
dollars over the next five years ($364 million) for education.
Sec. 309 outlines health care applications. This is a substantially
expanded version of S. 4's health care section. The lead agency is
shifted from the National Library of Medicine to the Department of
Health and Human Services, which is to implement it through the
NLM, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease
Control. H.R. 1757 also splits health care applications into three
subsections. Besides clinical information systems, which repeats S. 4's
six health care provisions for clinicians, H.R. 1757 adds two sections
of entirely new provisions: health information to public, and health
delivery systems and population data sets for epidemiology. The
section authorizes 24, 70, 82, 94, and 94 million dollars ($364
million) over the next five years.
Applications for health information to the public include: consumer-
oriented, interactive, multimedia materials for health promotion and
distribution of such materials to public access points, such as
community health and human service agencies, schools and public
libraries; interactive, multimedia materials to assist patients in
deciding among health care options; interfaces to allow non
specialists ease of access and use; and the means to provide
customized preventative and treatment information to non
Applications for health delivery systems and population data sets
include: networks and software for communication among local
public and private health and human service providers, e.g., health
centers, clinics, entitlement offices, and school based clinics to enable
social service providers to deliver coordinated services; access for
health care providers to current clinic-based health promotion and
disease prevention recommendations and two-way links with
prevention specialists at state and local health departments; and
database technologies to help clinicians diagnose, treat, and provide
preventative information to patients and facilitate the gathering of
systematic population data sets in order to measure treatments and
national health trends.
Sec. 310 describes the applications programs for libraries. Most of
this section describes the same digital library applications found in S.
4: terabit storage systems accessible by thousands of simultaneous
users; high speed digitizing of printed and photographic materials;
tools to search huge volumes of stored text, imagery, data and sound;
encouragement of the development and adoption of standards; smart
systems to categorize and organize information; training for
librarians and database users; making networked databases easy to
use; and visualization tools to help browse through large volumes of
imagery. The subsection on the development of prototypes, however,
is expanded in three significant ways. H.R. 1757 specifies that the
prototypes should be testbeds for all the features noted above. Most
importantly, H.R. 1757 specifies that the prototype libraries will be
accessible to the public via the Internet. Lastly, H.R. 1757 requests
an evaluation of the suitability and utility of distributing electronic
information over the Internet, including an assessment of the
barriers that hinder the use of the Internet for this purpose. H.R.
1757 also directs NASA to develop databases of remote-sensing
images to be made available over computer networks. NSF is named
as the lead agency, and 10, 30, 35, 44, and 44 million dollars ($163
million) is authorized over five years. For its part, NASA is
authorized 6, 16, 20, 20, and 20 million dollars ($82 million) for the
Sec. 311 calls for applications for government information. H.R. 1757
has a set of new provisions to promote public access to information
generated by Federal, state and local governments. H.R. 1757 calls for
projects that connect depository libraries and other sources of
government information to the Internet to enable access to Federal,
state and local government information, and access to "related
resources" as well as linkages among libraries in order to enhance
the use of that information. H.R. 1757 also calls for the creation of
technologies to increase access to and effective use of government
information in support of three goals: research and education;
economic development; and an informed citizenry. Finally, the
section mandates the creation of a Federal information locator to help
the public find and retrieve government information. No agency is
given coordinating or lead responsibilities, but the bill authorizes 8,
24, 26 30 and 30 million dollars over the next five years ($118
Section 4 changes the High Performance Computing Advisory
Committee into a Computing *and Applications* Advisory Committee.
It also adds representatives from K-12, consumer and public interest
groups, and computer, telecommunications, and information
industries. Among the Committee responsibilities is to assess
whether the applications that are developed successfully address the
needs of the targeted populations and to estimate the number of
users served by the applications.
Section 5 rewrites Section 102 of the HPCA. Whereas HPCA proposed
that portions of the NREN would reach gigabit transmission rates "to
the extent technically feasible," this bill appears to assume gigabit
networking and moves on to redefine test-bed networks separately.
The Network Program now would have three parts: R&D to support
gigabit transmission speeds; experimental test-beds networks to
develop advanced networking technologies in the quest for gigabit
networks and to support applications that exceed what commercial
networks can handle; and a connections program to help researchers,
educators and students obtain access to and use of the Internet.
H.R. 1757 adds a new section to the HPCA, 102(d), that would codify
the distinction between experimental, "bleeding-edge" research
networks and services available off-the-shelf from commercial
service providers. The bill specifies that eighteen months after the
bill is enacted, test bed networks are forbidden to provide services
that could otherwise be provided satisfactorily over commercial
Other sections include one that creates a new OSTP Associate Director
to oversee Federal efforts to disseminate scientific and technical
information, and a handful of miscellaneous provisions.
Program Announcement for Palo Alto, California
from Ted Haynes of the Churchill Club
Terry Winograd and Jim Warren will speak on "The Future of
Computing and Its Impact on Society", May 27, 1993, at the Hyatt
Rickey's, Palo Alto, California; sponsored by the Churchill Club (415-
321-9016). A reception and a light dinner begin at 6:00 PM with the
program starting at 6:45 PM.
Terry Winograd is a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford and a
founder of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Jim
Warren is a MicroTimes columnist, founder of Infoworld, and a
founder of the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conferences. They
will be joined by Denny Brown, founder of Coherent Thought and
President of Expert Support.
Will more powerful computers turn into twenty-first century
servants or Big Brother? What are the implications for employment,
economic growth, privacy, education, and the family? Come and find
The Churchill Club, founded in 1985, is a non-profit public affairs
organization in Silicon Valley that provides a non-partisan forum on
timely issues. Past speakers include Edward Teller, Bill Joy, Bill
Clinton and Sandra Kurtzig. The club has 1100 members of which
about 66% work in a "high tech" related company.
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