P> A federal judge in Philadelphia has frozen part of the Internet-censorship law included in the telecommunications reform act. The judge decided that the law's ban on the on-line distribution of "obscene" material was too vague, but allowed the government to bar the on-line distribution of "patently obscene" material to minors. However, the issue is not finalized, allowing both proponents and critics of the law to claim partial victory.
And just in case the free-speech lobbyists lose in court, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has introduced a bill that would repeal the Internet censorship law.
Abortion-rights advocates are also laboring against the obscenity law, which they fear may restrict the flow of information about abortions. Longtime abortion-rights proponent Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., is leading an effort to repeal that portion of the law, which she unwittingly supported in earlier votes.
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown released a new survey to buttress the controversial Advanced Technology Program. The survey of 125 companies showed that the ATP helped many companies find funding and often reduced their R&D stage by two years, said Brown. The study was prepared by Silber & Associates, Clarksville, Md.
But ATP opponent, Rep. Bob Walker, R-Pa., chairman of the House Committee on Science, countered with a study by the General Accounting Office that showed that 63 percent of 128 ATP applicants did not seek private sector funding before applying to the ATP, and that 42 percent of the companies would have continued their R&D even if they had not won the ATP money. The GAO report is titled, "Measuring Performance: The Advanced Technology Program and Private Sector Funding."
The Washington-based Business Software Alliance has asked the Federal Communications Commission to avoid setting in stone the technical standards for digital TV. The issue is critical to the software industry, whose leading companies bankroll the BSA, because digital TV is widely expected to play a central role in linking homes to the National Information Infrastructure.
After two years of study, the White House-appointed U.S. Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure has released its main report which calls for making sure the average citizen gets to shape the development of the information superhighway. The report is titled, "A Nation of Opportunity Realizing the Promise of the Information Superhighway."