Tech Policy: 2003 Year in Review
A Roundup of Key Developments
Wednesday, December 17, 2003;
It was a tumultuous year in the war to protect digital music, movies and software from the growing number of ordinary Americans using file-sharing networks like Kazaa. The fight shifted from Congress to the courthouse in 2003, when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) won a court case allowing it to subpoena Internet service providers to obtain the identities of suspected file sharers.
* Music Industry Reluctantly Yielding to Internet Reality(Nov. 27, 2003)
* Kazaa Launches Legitimacy Campaign(Nov. 19, 2003)
* Senate Bill Targets Internet Pirates(Nov. 13, 2003)
* FCC Approves First Digital Anti-Piracy Measure(Nov. 5, 2003)
* Congressional Caucus to Examine Entertainment Piracy(Oct. 21, 2003)
* Music Industry Will Talk Before Suing(Oct. 1, 2003)
In reaction to growing consumer irritation with the 16 billion telemarketing calls made each year, Congress gave the Bush administration authority to create a national do-not-call registry that gives Americans the ability to get off telemarketers' pitch lists once and for all. The do-not-call list proved an immediate success, with the Federal Trade Commission reporting a sign-up rate as high as 108 phone lines per second. The telemarketing industry, fearing a dent to its $275 billion business, took the government to court over the list and won a ruling that said it violated free speech rights under the First Amendment. The federal government has appealed that ruling but no decision has come yet. In the meantime, the list remains in effect and is held up as a model for fighting spam.
Many members of Congress expressed irritation this year over continued delays by states, local governments and telecommunications providers in rolling out "enhanced" 911 (E-911) services. Federal E-911 plans call for wireless phones and 911 call centers to be upgraded so that emergency operators can instantly pinpoint the locations of 911 calls made from wireless phones. Governments and wireless companies have consistently missed deadlines, delaying the staggered rollout outlined by the FCC. In February, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers formed an E-911 caucus to pressure all E-911 stakeholders to pick up the pace. In November, the House of Representatives passed legislation to better fund and coordinate E-911 rollout efforts.