Capital Round-Up

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CAPITAL ROUNDUP

Privacy Policy: The Office of Management and Budget should release the long-awaited options paper for government policy in the next six weeks, said Beckwith Burr, a privacy expert working for OMB and the Federal Trade Commission.

The paper, drafted by a panel of the National Information Infrastructure Task Force, will offer top decision makers several options for protecting privacy, including the creation of a group that would coordinate various government policies and agencies, she said.

Top leaders have already rejected one option - the creation of a new privacy office armed with regulatory powers.

Encryption: The administration will find congressional sponsors to introduce its much-anticipated encryption bill sometime in the next few weeks, say industry officials. The bill, which is expected to offer legal protection for companies that use government-favored, key-
escrow technology, will likely be
opposed by industry officials.

Online Smut: White House adviser Ira Magaziner acknowledged that the White House's draft plan for online commerce runs counter to its public and legal support for retired Sen. James Exon's controversial anti-smut law, which is disliked by the infotech industry.

"Our paper takes a somewhat different approach" by favoring industry-developed, smut-filtering technology, he said.

Research: Texas Republican Sen. Phil Gramm has introduced a bill intended to double U.S spending on research to $65 billion by 2002. Roughly $25 billion of the money would go to health research, leaving the rest to be spent on areas such as space, infotech and energy.

There's little chance the bill will pass, but it does show influential Republican support for research funding amid calls for a balanced budget and increased entitlement spending.

New Lobbyists: Two of the leading congressional architects of the 1996 telecommunications reform act have set up shop as lobbyists. However, Larry Pressler, who was recently defeated in his Senate re-election attempt, and retired Rep. Jack Fields, must step gingerly around ethics laws that restrict lobbying by recent members of Congress but still allow them to act as advisers to interested companies.

-Neil Munro


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