ACM Washington Update
April 4, 2014
Vol. 18, Issue 3
ACM Washington Update



ACM Washington Update recaps ACM’s initiatives in the technology policy arena monthly.  Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues in the computing community.  View more details on each item below, as well as on the USACM weblog.  You can follow USACM on Twitter and on Facebook.

  • USACM gave additional details on the independent systems engineering analysis it recommended to review design and operation of complex processes and systems
  • USACM supports creation of Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee as new mechanism for input on trade policy issues
  • Citing the rapid growth of computing jobs in the US, ACM issued a report urging states to provide more opportunities for students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to compete for these high-wage positions
  • Leslie Lamport named the recipient of the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award for his work in distributed computing systems
  • G3ict white paper discusses how third-party captioning of video programming can result in copyright infringement
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted workshops on accessibility, usability, reliability, security, and privacy of mobile devices and mobile cloud computing, as well as one on cloud computing and digital forensics

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In comments to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, USACM recommended the use of an independent systems engineering analysis to review the design and operation of complex processes and systems. Members outlined the elements for an analysis and described its implementation in the context of national surveillance programs. This description, submitted in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, links it to several recommendations by the Review Group.
A systems engineering analysis for data flowing into, through and out of a system and includes:
  • Auditability (including provenance)
  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Data Quality (of collected and derived data)
  • Functional completeness
  • Functional correctness
  • Functional appropriateness
USACM believes that conducting the analysis will highlight relevant policy tradeoffs before systems are deployed. You can read about the analysis online

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In comments to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), USACM supported creation of a Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee to serve as a new mechanism for stakeholder input on trade policy issues.
USACM encouraged the proposed Advisory Committee to seek input on trade-related principles and policies affecting public interests in the digital age. Across major industries and society, new developments in digital trade and internet-based products and services have created countless new jobs, products, and services; accelerated the speed, scope, and scale of innovation; resulted in diverse consumer products and growing consumer demand; and facilitated advanced manufacturing and big data analytics vital to U.S. businesses in the global economy. Trade policies should foster and encourage a wide variety of digital technologies and services to emerge within a competitive marketplace.
USACM also encouraged the Advisory Committee to include quality technical information and advice from the computing community to help evaluate and strengthen policy recommendations to the USTR.

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Citing the rapid growth of computing jobs in virtually every industry sector in the United States, ACM issued a report urging states to provide more opportunities for students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to compete for these high-wage positions. The report, Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States, calls on education and business leaders and public policy officials in every state to take immediate action aimed at filling the pipeline of qualified students pursuing computing and related degrees, and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. The report provides recommendations to help these leaders join together to create a comprehensive plan that addresses K-12 computer science education and that aligns state policy, programs, and resources to implement these efforts.
The report presents the results of a study by the ACM Education Policy Committee. The study, based on data gathered from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, was designed to assess the national computing workforce landscape, and to determine how well states are preparing K-12 students with the computing skills necessary for their future careers.
To learn more and to download the full-text of the report for free, visit

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Leslie Lamport, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, has been named the recipient of the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award for his work in distributed computing systems per the award citation:
"For fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of distributed and concurrent systems, notably the invention of concepts such as causality and logical clocks, safety and liveness, replicated state machines, and sequential consistency."
Lamport was also cited for:
"imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages. He devised important algorithms and developed formal modeling and verification protocols that improve the quality of real distributed systems."
Learn more about Dr. Lamport and his work at the A.M. Turing website.

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A G3ict white paper, Third Party Captioning and Copyright, discusses how third-party captioning of video programming can result in copyright infringement. The paper provides background information on accessibility requirements and their limitations under federal laws and regulations, and discusses the responsive trends of crowdsourced captions and automatically generated captions, which have developed to help meet the growing need for accessible captioning.
The paper recommends a legislative fix to make clear that third-party efforts to caption video uncaptioned by the original provider, done for compliance or other accessibility purposes, would not constitute copyright infringement or violate the DMCA's anti-circumvention restrictions.

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The USPTO will hold a Software Partnership Roundtable April 10 on crowdsourcing and third-party pre-issuance submissions to identify prior art for software patents. The roundtable and webcast will be open to the public, but advance registration is required by April 4. The USPTO will accept public comments until April 25.
The USPTO seeks input on:
  1. Leveraging the collective knowledge from crowdsourcing to provide relevant prior art
  2. Encouraging more third-party submissions from scientific and technical crowdsourcing
  3. Leveraging crowdsourcing to get relevant information from scientific and technical experts
  4. Encouraging more third-party participation and ensuring that no protests or other form of pre-issuance opposition to application patent grants are initiated after its publication
  5. What, if anything, is preventing you from submitting prior art as part of a third-party submission
  6. Ideas to ensure examiners have the most relevant prior art in front of them during examination
On a related note, The Presidential Innovation Fellows program invites applications from individuals interested in helping the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) improve patent quality through better prior art identification and evaluation. Fellows will collaborate with innovators in government for 6-13 months. Applications will be accepted through April 7, 2014.

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The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted a Cloud and Mobility Forum and Workshop March 25-27, on directions for the accessibility, usability, reliability, security, and privacy of mobile devices and mobile cloud computing.
Speakers focused on cloud computing technologies; issues for first responders, the financial and banking sectors, and the intelligence community; and objectives and outcomes for a federated mobile cloud, ubiquitous computing, and a diverse, mobile-enabled world.
NIST also hosted a Cloud Computing Forensic Science Workshop on March 24, for digital forensics leaders from government, industry, and academia to share insights on how to identify, recover, examine, analyze, and report on digital evidence in the cloud and in devices connected to the cloud.

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About Washington Update -- ACM Washington Update is produced by ACM's Office of Public Policy in Washington DC. It highlights activities of the U.S. Public Policy Council of ACM (USACM), ACM's Education Policy Committee (EPC) and other events in Washington that affect the computing community.

About USACM -- The U.S. Public Policy Council of ACM (USACM) is the focal point for ACM's interaction with U.S. government organizations, the computing community, and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology.

About EPC -- The Education Policy Committee engages policymakers and the public on public policy issues in science and math education that relate to computing and computer science. It focuses on initiatives to ensure that computer science education is identified as a critical component of education policy in the U.S. at both federal and state levels.

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