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Law Would Protect ISPs<@VM>Understanding Safe Harbor<@VM>Fostering IT Leadership

By Kerry GildeaHouse Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., Jan. 4 introduced new legislation to protect Internet service providers from criminal liability for online content provided by another person or group."Exposing ISPs to criminal liability for user content will impose costly burdens on a key part of America's economy ? the technology sector," Dreier said in introducing H.R. 12. "It will seriously degrade the ease and speed of consumer access to the Internet, and it will expose ISPs to control and regulation by foreign courts and governments, many of which don't respect the First Amendment."Dreier said recent actions in Europe, such as the Council on Europe's draft cybercrimes convention, are moving in the direction of criminal liability.There is no counterpart to the Dreier bill in the Senate at this time.Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta, who also is Transportation Secretary nominee in the new Bush administration, this month kicked off a series of meetings with senior Commerce officials to inform high-tech business officials on the ramifications of the new U.S.-European Union privacy "Safe Harbor" agreement.The Safe Harbor Business Implementation Forum will highlight the significant privacy implications of the agreement and conditions that could affect most businesses engaged in the $350 billion annual U.S.-EU trade market, the Software & Information Industry Association reported Jan. 4. The meetings will take place in major U.S. cities over the upcoming months through cooperation between SIIA, the U.S. Council for International Business and Morrison & Foerster.Encouraging America's technological leadership will be a central concern of the Commerce Department under the leadership of Commerce Secretary nominee Donald Evans, he told the Senate Commerce Committee at a Jan. 4 confirmation hearing."The nation's security and prosperity rely on the promise of effective intellectual property protection," he said. "Maximizing competitive opportunity also results from the establishment of appropriate industrial standards from the exploitation of new technologies and new means of doing business, and from the predictable, common-sense administration of controls on exports of strategically important goods."

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