The Congress passed, and the President signed, a $1 trillion 'Cromnibus' spending package in December. The nickname reflects the combination of a Continuing Resolution (CR) with an omnibus spending bill. The CR funds the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at fiscal year 2014 levels through February. The omnibus combines 11 appropriations bills, which fund the rest of the federal government through the fiscal year ending on September 30.
- Restricts the actions of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to handover its oversight role of Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) functions by next September. The bill would require NTIA to notify Congress no less than 45 days in advance of proposed ICANN and IANA successor contract or any other decision related to changing NTIA's role.
- Extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which blocks state and local governments from taxing Internet access.
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President Obama signed five cybersecurity bills in late December. The bills largely affect various cybersecurity functions and activities within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):
Federal Information Security Modernization Act
) - Updates the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), putting into law the current roles of the Office of Mangement and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). OMB would oversee development of agency information security policies and DHS would have the lead administrative role.
National Cybersecurity Protection Act
) - Formalizes in law the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center at DHS. This Center
shares information among the public and private sectors to provide greater understanding of cybersecurity risks, incidents, analysis and warnings.
Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act
) - Requires DHS to produce a cybersecurity workforce assessment and strategy document on a regular basis, and to provide Congress with an assessment of costs and other requirements for a Cybersecurity Fellowship program.
Border Patrol Agency Pay Reform Act
) - Part of this bill gives DHS increased hiring and compensation authority to help DHS recruit and retain in-demand professionals for certain cybersecurity positions.
Cybersecurity Enhancement Act
) - The bill formalizes in law the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) process behind the Cybersecurity Framework
. The bill also supports the continuation of the Cyber Scholarship for Service program, and National Science Foundation (NSF) research and development programs related to cybersecurity public awareness, international standards development, and the federal cloud computing strategy.
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Each of the new commissioners has years of experience with federal elections law. Hicks was the Senior Elections Counsel for the Committee on House Administration. Masterson was Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer for the Ohio Secretary of State (and worked at the EAC prior to that). McCormick was a Senior Trial Attorney with the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
One commissioner vacancy remains. The President nominated Matthew Butler
in November (another nominee was withdrawn), but a confirmation hearing was not scheduled prior to the end of Congress. With a new Congress, Butler's nomination will need to be resubmitted.
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The U.S. Copyright Office is accepting public input on proposed exemptions
to the prohibitions against circumvention under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This process takes place every three years. The deadline for the first round of public submissions of factual and legal support is February 6 and is limited to supporters of the proposed exemptions and those who are neither in support nor opposition.
The 27 proposed classes of works would allow exemptions for education, derivative works of digital content, jailbreaking of wireless and mobile devices, security research, access to information in networked medical devices, use of non-manufacture-approved feedstock in 3D printers, and use of abandoned video game software and music recording software.
Consistent with the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act enacted into law in 2014, the Copyright Office is considering a proposed cellphone unlocking exemption, as well as additional proposed exemptions for the unlocking of other wireless devices.
The Copyright Office urges commenters to review the guidance regarding the required legal and factual support for the exemptions and the types of evidence commenters might submit for the record.
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The FCC invites nominations
for the 4th Annual FCC Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility. The Chairman's Awards aim to highlight and encourage innovation in accessible technologies, standards, and best practices that will benefit people with disabilities. The deadline for nominations in March 5, 2015.
Award categories include: CAPTCHA alternatives, Internet of Things, wearable devices, real-time text, teleconferencing, video description, augmented reality, and "miscellaneous"
Nominations should include a brief description of the innovation, the award category, the date the innovation was introduced to the public, and why the innovation qualifies for the Chairman's Award.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) invites nominations for a new Disability Advisory Committee. Appointees will serve a two-year term and will be compensated. The FCC anticipates appointing 25 people. Appointees should expect at least three one-day meetings in Washington, D.C. during the year. Nominations are due by January 12.
The Disability Advisory Committee will foster the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the FCC and will provide advice and recommendations related to:
- Telecommunications relay services
- Closed captioning
- Video description
- Access to televised emergency information
- Access to video programming apparatus
- Access to telecommunications services and equipment
- Access to advanced communications services and equipment
- Hearing aid compatibility
- Access to 9-1-1 emergency services
- The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution program
- The impact of IP and other network transitions on people with disabilities
Representatives from civil society, federal agencies, and state and local governments are strongly encouraged to express an interest in serving on the Disability Advisory Committee and to participate in the meetings of the Committee once established.
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