Internet: An Overview of Key Technology Policy Issues Affecting Its Use and Growth

Internet: An Overview of
Key Technology Policy Issues
Affecting Its Use and Growth
Updated January 5, 2007
Lennard G. Kruger, John D. Moteff, Angele A. Gilroy,
Jeffrey W. Seifert, and Patricia Moloney Figliola
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Rita Tehan
Knowledge Services Group

Internet: An Overview of Key Technology Policy Issues
Affecting Its Use and Growth
In the decade between 1994 and 2004, the number of U.S. adults using the
Internet increased from 15% to 63%, and by 2005, stood at 78.6%. From electronic
mail to accessing information to watching videos to online purchasing, the Internet
touches almost every aspect of modern life. The extent to which use of the Internet
continues to grow, however, may be affected by a number of technology policy
issues being debated in Congress.
First is the availability of high-speed — or “broadband” — Internet access.
Broadband Internet access gives users the ability to send and receive data at speeds
far greater than “dial-up” Internet access over traditional telephone lines. With
deployment of broadband technologies accelerating, Congress is seeking to ensure
fair competition and timely broadband deployment to all sectors and geographical
locations of American society.
Next are a range of issues that reflect challenges faced by those who do use the
Internet, such as security, privacy (including spyware and identity theft), unsolicited
commercial electronic mail (“spam”), protecting children from unsuitable material
(such as pornography), and computer security, including the vulnerability of the
nation’s critical infrastructures to cyber attacks.
Other issues include the Internet’s domain name system (DNS), which is
administered by a nonprofit corporation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers (ICANN). With the Department of Commerce currently
exercising legal authority over ICANN, Congress continues to monitor the
administration of the DNS, particularly with respect to issues such as privacy,
governance, and protecting children on the Internet.
The evolving role of the Internet in the political economy of the United States
also continues to attract congressional attention. Among the issues are what changes
may be needed at the Federal Communications Commission in the Internet age,
federal support for information technology research and development, provision of
online services by the government (“e-government”), and availability and use of
“open source” software by the government.
A number of laws already have been passed on many of these issues. Congress
is monitoring the effectiveness of these laws, and assessing what other legislation
may be needed. Other CRS reports referenced in this document track legislation,
and the reader should consult those reports, which are updated more frequently than
this one, for current information.
This report will not be updated.

In troduction ......................................................1
Background: Internet Usage and E-Commerce Statistics...................1
Internet Usage in the United States................................2
Trends ..................................................2
Number of Users..........................................2
Geographic Distribution.....................................2
International Internet Usage......................................3
E-Commerce .................................................4
Broadband Internet Regulation and Access..............................5
Computer and Internet Security.......................................7
Internet Privacy..................................................11
Spyware ....................................................11
Identity Theft and “Phishing”...................................11
“Spam”: Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail.......................13
Protecting Children from Unsuitable Material...........................14
Internet Domain Names............................................15
Background .................................................15
Issues ......................................................17
Governance .............................................17
ICANN-Verisign Agreement and the .com registry...............18
Protecting Children on the Internet...........................19
Trademark Disputes.......................................20
Privacy .................................................20
Government Information Technology Management......................21
The Federal Communications Commission.........................22
Information Technology R&D...................................23
Electronic Government (E-Government)...........................23
Open Source Software.........................................25
Appendix A: List of Acronyms......................................28
Appendix B: Legislation Passed by the 105th-109th Congresses.............31

Internet: An Overview of Key Technology
Policy Issues Affecting Its Use and Growth
The continued growth of the Internet for personal, government, and business
purposes may be affected by a number of technology policy issues being debated by
Congress. Among them are access to and regulation of broadband (high-speed)
Internet services, computer and Internet security, Internet privacy, the impact of
“spam,” concerns about what children may encounter (such as pornography) when
using the Internet, management of the Internet Domain Name System, and
government information technology management.
This report provides overviews of those issues, plus appendices providing a list
of acronyms, and a discussion of legislation passed in earlier Congresses. Other
issues that are not directly related to technology could also affect the use and growth
of the Internet, such as intellectual property rights and Internet taxation. Those are
not addressed in this report.
This report does not attempt to track legislation. For more timely information,
see the other CRS reports identified in the following sections.
Background: Internet Usage and
E-Commerce Statistics1
A December 2006 survey by the Nielsen/Net Ratings market research firm
found that 78% of active home Web users connected via broadband during the month
of November, up 13 percentage points from 65% of active Web users a year ago.
Social activities dominate broadband time online: websites for online gaming, instant
messaging, e-mail and social networking all made the top 10 list when ranked by
average time per person among broadband users at home. The Internet has become
an integral part of everyday social life, particularly among children and teenagers.2

1 By Rita Tehan, Knowledge Services Group.
2 Nielsen/NetRatings press release, Over Three-fourths of U.S. Active Internet Users
Connect via Broadband at Home in November, According to Nielsen/Netratings, December

12, 2006. See [].

A spring 2006 Pew Internet & American Life survey found that 48 million
Americans — mostly those with high-speed access at home — have posted content
to the Internet.3
Internet Usage in the United States
Trends. The Fifth Study of the Internet by the Digital Future Project Finds4
Major New Trends in Online Use for Political Campaigns highlights the major
findings in the Annenberg School’s Digital Future Project, which is studying the
impact of the Internet on Americans. Among the findings are:
!Internet users are finding growing numbers of online friends, as well
as friends they first met online and then met in person. Internet
users report having met an average of 4.65 friends online whom they
have never met in person.
!Although more than 40%of users say that the Internet has increased
the number of people with whom they stay in contact, a lower
percent say that since starting to use the Internet they are
communicating more with family and friends.
!While large percentages of Internet users say that going online
increases contact with family and friends, almost all users report that
the Internet has no effect on the time spent with close friends or
family face-to-face.
Number of Users. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issues5
biannual reports on broadband Internet access service. In its July 2006 report, the
FCC reported that during the year 2005, high-speed lines serving residential, small
business, larger business, and other subscribers increased by 33%, to 50.2 million
lines. High-speed lines serving residential and small business subscribers increased6
by 36% during 2005, to 42.9 million lines. Additional demographic information on
Internet users is compiled by MRI Cyberstats.7
Geographic Distribution. Rural Americans are less likely to log on to the
Internet at home with high-speed Internet connections than people living in other

3 Pew Internet and American Life. Home Broadband Adoption 2006, May 28, 2006. See
[ht t p : / / www.pewi nt ernet .org/ PPF/ r/ 184/ report _di spl a y.asp].
4 USC Annenberg School, Center for the Digital Future. Online World As Important to
Internet Users as Real World?, November 29, 2006. See
[ page s/news_c ontent.asp?intGlobalId=212&intT ypeId=1].
5 For the purposes of the FCC report, broadband means high-speed lines that deliver services
exceeding 200 kilobits (kb) per second in at least one direction. Broadband Internet issues
are discussed later in this report.
6 FCC. Federal Communications Commission Releases Data on High-Speed Services for
Internet Access. Press release, July 26, 2006. Available at
[ edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-266593A1.pdf].
7 MRI Cyberstats, Internet Access and Usage in the U.S., Spring 2006. See
[ h t t p : / / www.i n f opl i p a/ ml ]

parts of the country. However, rural areas show fast growth in home broadband
uptake in the past two years and the gap between rural and non-rural America in
home broadband adoption, though still substantial, is narrowing. As of March 2006,
39% of adult rural Americans went online at home with high-speed Internet
connections compared with 42% of adults in urban and suburban areas.8 A Nation
Online: Entering the Broadband Age, the sixth report released by the U.S.
Department of Commerce examining Americans’ use of computers, the Internet, and
other information technology tools, examined the geographic differences in
broadband adoption and the reasons why some Americans do not have high-speed
service.9 According to the September 2004 report, although the rate of Internet
penetration among rural households (54.1%) was similar to that in urban areas
(54.8%), the proportion of Internet users with home broadband connections remained
much lower in rural areas than in urban areas.
International Internet Usage
There are many different estimates of international Internet usage. Some
sources which compile Internet usage data are: the International Telecommunications
Union (ITU), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD), the CIA Fact Book, and independent market research firms such as
Nielsen//NetRatings, eMarketer, and the Computer Industry Almanac.10
According to a January 2006 estimate from the Computer Industry Almanac, the
worldwide number of Internet users is 1.08 billion.11 The 2 billion Internet users
milestone is expected to occur in 2011. Much of current and future Internet user
growth is coming from highly populated countries such as China, India, Brazil,
Russia, and Indonesia. In the next decade many Internet users will be accessing the
Internet with mobile devices, in addition to personal computers.12
Broadband subscribers in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) member countries13 reached 181 million by June 2006. Over

8 Pew Internet & American Life, Home Broadband Adoption 2006, May 28, 2006. See
[ht t p : / / www.pewi nt ernet .org/ PPF/ r/ 176/ report _di spl a y.asp].
9 U.S. Department of Commerce. A Nation Online: Entering the Broadband Age. September
2004. See []. Rural/urban geographic
distribution figures are on pp. 15-19.
10 One source of comparative data is: Internet Usage Statistics - The Big Picture
World Internet Users and Population Stats. See [].
11 ClickZ Stats, Web Worldwide, See:
[ h t t p : / / www.c l i c kz.c om/ s howPa ge .ht ml ? p a ge = s t a t s / we b_wor l d wi de ] .
12 Computer Industry Almanac, Worldwide Internet Users Top 1 Billion in 2005, January

4, 2006. See [].

13 OECD member countries include include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech
Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy,
Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland,
Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the

the past year, the number of broadband subscribers in the OECD increased 33% from
136 million in June 2005 to 181 million in June 2006. This growth increased
broadband penetration rates in the OECD from 11.7 in June 2005 to 15.5
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants one year later.14 The main highlights for the first
half of 2006 are:
!Northern European countries have continued their advance with high
broadband penetration rates. In June 2006, six countries (Denmark,
the Netherlands, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland and Finland) led the
OECD in broadband penetration, each with at least 25 subscribers
per 100 inhabitants.
!Denmark now leads the OECD with a broadband penetration rate of

29.3 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.

!The strongest per-capita subscriber growth comes from Denmark,
Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden
and the United Kingdom.
!The United States has the largest total number of broadband
subscribers in the OECD at 57 million representing 31% of all
broadband connections in the OECD.
The U.S. Census Bureau releases quarterly retail e-commerce statistics. On
November 17, 2006, its estimate of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the third quarter
of 2006, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but
not for price changes, was $27.5 billion, an increase of 4.5% from the 2nd quarter of

2006. Total retail sales for the 4th quarter of 2006 were estimated at $991.7 billion,

an increase of 0.7% from the 2nd quarter of 2006.15 E-commerce sales in the third
quarter accounted for 2.8% of total sales.
ComScore Networks reported its e-commerce sales estimates for the first three
quarters of 2006 and forecasts for the entire year. Overall, comScore forecasts that
total online spending in 2006 will reach approximately $170 billion. Of that total, the
market research firm estimates that non-travel e-commerce will break the $100
billion threshold for the first time. Through the first three quarters of 2006, total
e-commerce spending rose 19 percent versus last year to $122.1 billion, buoyed by
a 24% increase in non-travel spending to $69.1 billion.16

13 (...continued)
United States.
14 OECD Broadband Statistics to June, 2006. See [].
15 U.S. Census Bureau. Quarterly Retail E-commerce Sales, 1st quarter 2006, May 18, 2006.
See [].
16 comScore press release, “U.S. Non-Travel E-Commerce Spending By Consumers
Increased 23 Percent in Q3 2006 Versus Year Ago, According to comScore Networks,”
October 26, 2006. See [].

Broadband Internet Regulation and Access17
Broadband Internet access gives users the ability to send and receive data at
speeds far greater than conventional “dial up” Internet access over existing telephone
lines. Broadband technologies — cable modem, digital subscriber line (DSL),
satellite, wireless Internet, and fiber — are currently being deployed nationwide by
the private sector. While the numbers of new broadband subscribers continue to
grow, some areas of the nation — particularly rural and low-income communities —
continue to lack sufficient access to high-speed broadband Internet service. In orderth
to address this problem, the 109 Congress considered, but did not pass, legislation
to address the scope and effect of federal broadband financial assistance programs
(including universal service), and the impact of regulatory policies and new
technologies on broadband deployment. These issues are anticipated to continue toth
be a focus of the broadband policy debate in the 110 Congress.
Some policymakers, believing that disparities in broadband access across
American society could have adverse economic and social consequences on those left
behind, assert that the federal government should play a more active role to avoid a
“digital divide” in broadband access. One approach is for the federal government to
provide financial assistance to support broadband deployment in underserved areas.
In the 109th Congress, legislation was introduced, but not enacted, to provide
financial assistance (including loans, grants, and tax incentives) to encourage
broadband deployment. (For more information on federal assistance for broadband
deployment, see CRS Report RL30719, Broadband Internet Access and the Digital
Divide: Federal Assistance Programs, by Lennard G. Kruger and Angele A. Gilroy.)
Others, however, question the reality of the “digital divide,” and argue that federal
intervention in the broadband marketplace would be premature and, in some cases,
The debate over access to broadband services has prompted policymakers to
examine a range of other issues to ensure that broadband will be available on a timely
and equal basis to all U.S. citizens. One facet of this debate focuses on whether
present laws and subsequent regulatory policies are needed to ensure the
development of competition and its subsequent consumer benefits, or conversely,
whether such laws and regulations are overly burdensome and discourage needed
investment in and deployment of broadband services. The regulatory debate focuses
on a number of issues including the extent to which legacy regulations should be
applied to traditional providers as they enter new markets, the extent to which legacy
regulations should be imposed on new entrants as they compete with traditional
providers in their markets, and the treatment of new and converging technologies.
For example, present law requires all incumbent local exchange (telephone)
carriers (ILECs), such as Verizon or SBC, to open up their networks to enable
competitors to lease out parts of the incumbent’s network. These unbundling and

17 By Angele A. Gilroy and Lennard G. Kruger, Resources, Science, and Industry Division.
See also CRS Report RL33542, Broadband Internet Regulation and Access: Background
and Issues, by Angele A. Gilroy and Lennard G. Kruger, which is updated more frequently
than this report.

resale requirements, which are detailed in Section 251 of the Telecommunications
Act of 1996, were enacted in an attempt to open up the local telephone network to
competitors. Whether such “open access” regulations should be applied to ILECs
when they offer new non-dominant services such as broadband connections, or to
new market entrants such as cable television companies when they offer services
(such as voice and broadband) remains under debate. Whether regulators should play
a role to ensure that the Internet remains open to all, often referred to as “net
neutrality” became a major part of and is expected to continue to be, a major focus
of the ongoing Congressional debate. Equally contentious is the debate over whether
legacy regulations, such as the requirement that cable television companies obtain a
local franchise as a prerequisite for offering video service, be extended to other
entrants, such as telephone companies, if they choose to enter the video market. A
third and related debate surrounds the appropriate regulatory framework that should
be imposed on new technologies such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and
other Internet Protocol services as well as bundled service offerings.
The regulatory treatment of broadband technologies — whether offered by
traditional or emerging providers, or incumbent or new entrants — remains a major
focus of the policy debate. Cities, counties, and states have taken up the issue of
whether to mandate open access requirements on local cable franchises. In June
1999, a federal judge ruled that the city of Portland, Oregon had the right to require
open access to the Tele-Communications Incorporated (TCI) broadband network as
a condition for transferring its local cable television franchise to AT&T. On March
14, 2002, the FCC adopted a Declaratory Ruling which classified cable modem
service as an “interstate information service,” subject to FCC jurisdiction and largely
shielded from local regulation. After a series of conflicting court decisions the US
Supreme Court in a June 27, 2005 action (National Cable and Telecommunications
Association v. Brand X Internet Services), ruled that the FCC should be given
deference in its decision that cable broadband service should be classified as an
“interstate information service.” The classification of cable modem service as an
“interstate information service” will result in FCC treatment under the less rigorous
Title I of the 1934 Communications Act. Similarly, in an August 5, 2005 action, the
FCC ruled that the regulatory treatment of wireline broadband services will be
granted regulatory parity. The FCC ruled that, subject to a one-year transition period,
which expired in August 2006, wireline broadband Internet access services
(commonly delivered by DSL technology) are defined as information services,
thereby placing telephone company DSL services on an equal regulatory footing with
cable modem services. Regulatory parity was also granted to broadband over power
line (BPL) service, when the FCC, in a November 2006 decision, determined that
such service would also be classified as an “interstate information service” subject
to Title I regulation.
Finally, emerging broadband technologies — such as fiber, wireless (including
“3G”, “wi-fi” and “Wimax”), and BPL — continue to be developed and/or deployed,
and have the potential to affect the regulatory and market landscape of broadband
deployment. The 110th Congress and the FCC will likely consider policies to address
the emergence of these and other new broadband technologies. In addition, how and
to what extent “social regulations” such as 911 requirements, disability access, law
enforcement obligations, and universal service support, should be applied to
emerging technologies is also under debate. A related issue, the emergence of

municipal broadband networks (primarily wireless and fiber based) and the debate
over whether such networks constitute unfair competition with the private sector has
become a significant policy issue (for more information on municipal broadband, see
CRS Report RS20993, Wireless Technology and Spectrum Demand: Advanced
Wireless Services, by Linda K. Moore).
Computer and Internet Security18
On October 21, 2002, all 13 of the Internet’s root Domain Name System servers
were targeted by a distributed denial of service attack. While the attack had little
overall effect on the performance of the Internet, a more sophisticated and sustainable
attack might have had a more deleterious impact. As use of the Internet grows, so
has concern about security of and security on the Internet. A long list of security-
related incidents that have received wide-ranging media coverage (e.g. Melissa virus,
the Love Bug, and the Code Red, Nimda, Slammer, and Blaster worms) represents
the tip of the iceberg. More recently, hackers using Trojan horses and other
techniques, were able to place keylogging software on the personal computers of
people with online trading accounts to surreptitiously acquire their personal account
information. The hackers used the information to access these personal accounts to
buy little known stocks in which they (the hackers) had invested, driving up the price.
The thieves then dumped their shares for a profit.19 Every day, persons gain access,
or try to gain access, to someone else’s computer without authorization to read, copy,
modify, or destroy the information contained within. These persons range from
juveniles to disgruntled (ex)employees, to criminals, to competitors, to politically or
socially motivated groups, to agents of foreign governments.
The extent of the problem is unknown. Much of what gets reported as computer
“attacks” are probes, often conducted automatically with software widely available
for even juveniles to use. But the number of instances where someone has actually
gained unauthorized access is not known. Not every person or company whose
computer system has been compromised reports it either to the media or to
authorities. Sometimes the victim judges the incident not to be worth the trouble.
Sometimes the victim may judge that the adverse publicity would be worse.
Sometimes the affected parties do not even know their systems have been
compromised. There is some evidence to suggest, however, that the number of
incidents is increasing. According to the Computer Emergency Response Team
(CERT) at Carnegie-Mellon University, the number of incidents reported to it has
grown just about every year since the team’s establishment — from 132 incidents in
1989 to over 137,000 incidents in 2003. Since many attacks are now coordinated and
cascade throughout the Internet, CERT no longer tracks the number of incidents
reported to them. While the total number of incidents may be rising exponentially,
it is interesting to note that, according to the Computer Crime and Security Survey,

18 By John D. Moteff, Resources, Science, and Industry Division.
19 See, Computerworld. ID Thefts Slam Online Brokers, by Eric Lai. Vol. 40. No. 44. Oct.

30, 2006. p.1,43.

the percentage of respondents that reported unauthorized use of their computer
systems over the previous 12 months has declined since the year 2000.20
The impact on society from the unauthorized access or use of computers is also
unknown. Again, some victims may choose not to report losses. In many cases, it
is difficult or impossible to quantify the losses. But social losses are not zero. Trust
in one’s system may be reduced. Proprietary and/or customer information (including
credit card numbers) may be compromised. Any unwanted code must be found and
removed. The veracity of the system’s data must be checked and restored if
necessary. Money may be stolen from accounts or extorted from the victim. If
disruptions occur, sales may be lost. If adverse publicity occurs, future sales may be
lost and stock prices may be affected. Estimates of the overall financial losses due
to unauthorized access vary and are largely speculative. Estimates typically range in
the billions of dollars per major event like the Love Bug virus or the series of denial-
of-service attacks of February 2000.21 Similar estimates have been made for the
Code Red worms. Estimates of losses internationally range up to the tens of billions
of dollars. In the 2005 Computer Crime and Security Survey, 687 responders (out
of a total of 700) estimated financial losses totaling $130 million in the previous 12
months. According to the survey, viruses accounted for the most financial losses
($43 million), followed by loss of proprietary information. Denial of service attacks
accounted for $7 million in losses. Two of the online brokers whose customers’
accounts were used in the “pump-and-dump” scheme mentioned above reported
spending $22 million to compensate their customers.22 For more discussion on the
economic impact of attacks against computer systems, and the difficulties in
measuring it, see CRS Report RL32331, The Economic Impact of Cyber-Attacks, by
Brian Cashell, Will D. Jackson, Mark Jickling, and Baird Webel.
Aside from the losses discussed above, there is also growing concern that
unauthorized access to computer systems could pose an overall national security risk
should it result in the disruption of the nation’s critical infrastructures (e.g.,
transportation systems, banking and finance, electric power generation and
distribution). These infrastructures rely increasingly on computer networks to
operate, and are themselves linked by computer and communication networks. In
February 2003, the President’s Critical Infrastructure Board (established by President
George W. Bush through E.O. 13231 but later dissolved by E.O. 13286) released a
National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace. The Strategy assigned a number of

20 The Computer Crime and Security Survey is conducted by the Computer Security Institute
(CSI) in cooperation with the San Francisco Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Computer
Intrusion Squad. The CSI/FBI Survey, as it has become known, has been conducted
annually since 1996, and surveys U.S. corporations, government agencies, financial and
medical institutions and universities. The 2005 Survey indicated a slight increase, after four
straight years of decline. Still over 50% of the respondents have reported unauthorized use.
The CSI/FBI survey does not represent a statistical sampling of the nation’s computer
security practitioners. The survey can be found at [] . This website
was last viewed on July 10, 2006.
21 This refers to the series of attacks, in February 2000, directed at online giants Yahoo,
eBay, Amazon, E Trade, DATEK, Excite, ZDNEt,, and CNN.
22 Computerworld. Op. cit.

responsibilities for coordinating the protection of the nation’s information
infrastructure to the Department of Homeland Security. Most of the Department’s
efforts in cybersercurity are managed by the National Cyber Security Division
(NCSD) within in the Preparedness Directorate. As part of the Strategy, the NCSD
has assumed a major role in raising awareness of the risks associated with computer
security among all users, from the home user to major corporations, and to facilitate
information exchange between all parties. To this end numerous cooperative and
coordinating groups and fora have been established. One such activity is U.S.-
CERT, a cooperative effort by the National Cyber Security Division and Carnegie
Mellon’s CERT, which among other services and activities, produces alerts of new
and existing attacks and guidelines for preventing or responding to them.
Congress has shown, and continues to show, a strong interest in the security of
computers and the Internet. Over the years this interest has been manifested in
numerous hearings by a multitude of committees and subcommittees, in both the
House and the Senate. Legislation has also been passed. The federal Computer
Fraud and Abuse statute (18 U.S.C. 1030) was initially added as part of the
Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-473). This act, as amended,
makes it a federal crime to gain unauthorized access to, damage, or use in an illegal
manner, protected computer systems (including federal computers, bank computers,
computers used in interstate and foreign commerce).23 Legislation specifically
requiring system owners/operators to take actions to protect their computer systems
has been confined to executive federal agencies (most recently, the Federal
Information Security Management Act of 2002, P.L. 107-347, Title III). Other
legislation is primarily aimed at protecting privacy by protecting certain personal
information held by government and private sector entities and affects computer
security indirectly. For example, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (P.L. 106-102, Title
V) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA, P.L.
104-191, Title II, Subtitle F) require that entities have in place programs that protect
the financial and health-related information, respectively, in their possession. The
Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (P.P. 107-204) also indirectly affects private sector
computers and networks, by requiring certain firms to certify the integrity of their
financial control systems as part of their annual financial reporting requirements. To
the extent that this information resides on computer systems, these requirements
extend to those systems. Congress also supports a number of programs that help
develop computer security education, training, and research at selected universities.
For an overview of federal legislation and other federal documents associated with
computer and internet security, see CRS Report RL32357, Computer Security: A
Summary of Selected Federal Laws, Executive Orders, and Presidential Directives,
by John Moteff.
It is not clear how these efforts have affected the overall security of the Internet.
Given the perceived rise in security threats and attacks, there is a general sense that
more must be done. Aside from the inherent vulnerabilities associated with highly
interconnected information networks, two major sources of vulnerabilities exist:

23 Some of the penalties under this statute have been increased by both the USA PATRIOT
Act (P.L. 107-56, Section 814) and the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296,
Sectiom 225(g)).

software, and network configuration and management. Operating systems and
applications developers say they are paying greater attention to designing better
security into their software products. But it is still common to have vulnerabilities
found in products after they have been put on the market. In some cases, patches
have had to be offered at the same time a new product is brought onto the market.
Although patches typically are offered to fix these vulnerabilities, many system
administrators do not keep their software/configurations current. Many intrusions
take advantage of software vulnerabilities noted many months earlier, for which fixes
have already been offered.
There are as yet no agreed upon industry standards for determining how secure
a firm’s computer system should be or for assessing how secure it is in fact. Some
observers speculate that it is only a matter of time before owners of computer systems
are held responsible for damage done to a third-party computer as a result of
inadequately protecting their own systems.24 Nor are there any agreed upon standards
on how secure a vendor’s software product should be. The federal government, in
cooperation with a number of other countries, has developed a set of International
Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation, to allow certified
laboratories to test security products and rate their level of security for government
use. These criteria may evolve into industry standards for certifying security
products. Some in the security community feel that security will not improve without
some requirements imposed upon the private sector. However, both users and
vendors of computer software suggest that the market is sufficient to address security
in the most cost-effective manner. The Bush Administration, as the Clinton
Administration before it, has chosen to use engagement and not regulation to
encourage the private sector to improve security. However, both Administrations did
not rule out the use of regulation if necessary. For a discussion of the difficulties
associated with setting standards, see CRS Report RL32777, Creating a National
Framework for Cybersecurity: An Analysis of Issues and Options, by Eric A. Fischer.
During the 109th Congress, legislation was introduced that, again, primarily
addressed privacy issues with indirect impact on computer security. In light of large
losses of personal information through fraud, lost records, and unauthorized access,
a number of bills were introduced that extended the requirements to safeguard and
protect personal information, similar to that found in Gramm-Leach-Bliley and
HIPPA, to “information brokers” and/or required any organization engaged in
interstate commerce holding personal information to inform consumers of any
security breach that may have compromised their information. Bills commonly
referred to as “Spyware” legislation were also introduced. These topics are discussed
in the next section of this report. The theft of a laptop computer from the home of a
employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs in May 2006, containing personal
information of over 20 million military veterans, while not an Internet-related
incident, renewed focus on the ability of federal agencies to enforce their own
information security policies and procedures and to hold agency officials
accountable. Such concern led the House to pass the Veterans Identity and Credit
Security Act of 2006 (H.R. 5835) that included amendments to the Federal

24 See “IT Security Destined for the Courtroom,” Computerworld, May 21, 2001, vol. 35,
no. 21, pp. 1, 73.

Information Security Management Act. The Senate did not take up the bill. Similar
activity is expected in the 110th Congress.
Internet Privacy
Concerns related to Internet privacy encompass a wide range of issues. At the
center of these issues is how networks can facilitate the collection and transfer of data
inexpensively and on a large scale. While such data transfers can improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of services, they can also pose great risk if the
information is not appropriately protected. One example is the surreptitious
installation of software (“spyware”) by website operators to collect personally
identifiable information (PII) and share that information with third parties, usually
without the knowledge or consent of the people concerned. Another example is
identity theft, which is a form of fraud in which the personal identifying information
of an individual, such as a Social Security number, name, or date of birth, is co-opted
by another person to facilitate committing a criminal or fraudulent act by
impersonating the victim.
Spyw are25
Spyware is another focus of congressional concern. There is no firm definition
of spyware, but the most common example is software products that include a
method by which information is collected about the use of the computer on which the
software is installed, and the user. When the computer is connected to the Internet,
the software periodically relays the information back to the software manufacturer
or a marketing company. Some spyware traces a user’s Web activity and causes
advertisements to suddenly appear on the user’s monitor — called “pop-up” ads —
in response. Typically, users have no knowledge that the software they obtained
included spyware and that it is now resident on their computers. A central point of
the debate is whether new laws are needed, or if industry self-regulation, coupled
with enforcement actions under existing laws such as the Federal Trade Commission
Act, is sufficient. Most recently, the 109th Congress passed the Undertaking Spam,
Spyware, And Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers beyond Borders Act of 2005 (US
SAFE WEB ) (P.L. 109-455). The bill allows the FTC and parallel foreign law
enforcement agencies to share information while investigating allegations of “unfair
and deceptive practices” that involve foreign commerce.
Identity Theft and “Phishing”26
Identity theft is a form of fraud in which the personal identifying information
of an individual, such as a Social Security number, name, or date of birth, is co-opted
by another person to facilitate committing a criminal or fraudulent act by
impersonating the victim. Identity theft, also sometimes referred to as identity fraud,
does not usually occur as a stand-alone crime. Instead, identity theft is often
committed as part of some other fraud or white-collar crime, such as illegally

25 By Patricia Moloney Figliola, Resources, Science, and Industry Division.
26 By Jeffrey W. Seifert, Resources, Science, and Industry Division.

obtaining credit, taking over existing financial accounts, or establishing cellular
phone service in the victim’s name. An identity thief could also take other actions
on behalf of the victim, such as establishing residency/citizenship, securing
employment, obtaining government benefits, and committing other crimes in the
victim’s name. In addition, identity theft can play a facilitating role in potentially
more violent crimes such as drug trafficking, people smuggling, and international
terrorism. 27
While identity theft is not solely an Internet issue, a number of high profile data
breaches involving the personally identifiable information (PII) of citizens and
consumers has drawn significant attention to the issue. Among the most recent
incidents was the theft of a laptop containing the names, dates of birth, and other
information of more than 26 million veterans. Although the laptop was eventually
recovered and it is believed that the data was not accessed, the incident highlighted
the ease with which the PII of large numbers of people could be taken at one time.
Another way identity theft can happen is through “phishing.” Phishing refers
to a practice where someone misrepresents their identity or authority in order to
induce another person to provide PII over the Internet. Some common phishing
scams involve e-mails that purport to be from a financial institution, ISP, or other
trusted company claiming that a person’s record has been lost. The e-mail directs the
person to a website that mimics the legitimate business’ website and asks the person
to enter a credit card number and other PII so the record can be restored. In fact, the
e-mail or website is controlled by a third party who is attempting to extract
information that will be used in identity theft or other crimes. The FTC issued a
consumer alert on phishing in June 2004.28
Several laws restrict the disclosure of consumer information and require
companies to ensure the security and integrity of the data in certain contexts —
Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act
(FCRA), and Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Congress also has passed
several laws specifically related to identity theft: the 1998 Identity Theft and
Assumption Deterrence Act; the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT)
Act; and the 2004 Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act. Those laws are
summarized in CRS Report RL31919, Remedies Available to Victims of Identity
Theft, by Angie A. Welborn. For information on state laws and pending federal
legislation, see CRS Report RS22484, Identity Theft Laws: State Penalties and
Remedies and Pending Federal Bills, by Kristin Thornblad.

27 General Accounting Office, Identity Fraud: Prevalence and Links to Alien Illegal
Activities, GAO-02-830T, 25 June 2002, p. 10.
28 FTC. “How Not to Get Hooked by a ‘Phishing’ Scam.” June 2004. See
[ ht t p: / / www.f t bcp/ conl i ne/ pubs/ a l e r t s/ phi shi nga l r t .pdf ] .

“Spam”: Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail29
One aspect of increased use of the Internet for electronic mail (e-mail) has been
the advent of unsolicited advertising, also called “unsolicited commercial e-mail
(UCE),” “unsolicited bulk e-mail,” “junk e-mail, “or “spam.” Complaints focus on
the fact that some spam contains or has links to pornography, that much of it is
fraudulent, that it is a nuisance, and the volume is increasing. Although consumers
are most familiar with spam on their personal computers, it also is becoming an issue
in text messaging on wireless telephones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
In 2003, Congress passed a federal anti-spam law, the CAN-SPAM Act (P.L.
108-187), which became effective on January 1, 2004. The act preempts state laws
that specifically address spam but not state laws that are not specific to e-mail, such
as trespass, contract, or tort law, or other state laws to the extent they relate to fraud
or computer crime. It does not ban unsolicited commercial e-mail. Rather, it allows
marketers to send commercial e-mail as long as it conforms with the law, such as
including a legitimate opportunity for consumers to “opt-out” of receiving future
commercial e-mails from that sender. It does not require a centralized “do not e-
mail” registry to be created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), similar to the
National Do Not Call registry for telemarketing. The law requires only that the FTC
develop a plan and timetable for establishing a “Do Not E-mail” registry and to
inform Congress of any concerns it has with regard to establishing it. The FTC
reported to Congress in June 2004 that without a technical system to authenticate the
origin of e-mail messages, a registry would not reduce the amount of spam, and, in
fact, might increase it. Authentication is a technical approach that could be used to
control spam that is under study by a number of groups, including ISPs, who are
attempting to develop a single authentication standard for the industry. Additionally,
the CAN-SPAM Act included a provision requiring the FCC to establish regulations
to protect wireless consumers from spam.30
Many argue that technical approaches, such as authentication, and consumer
education, are needed to solve the spam problem — that legislation alone is
insufficient. Nonetheless, there is considerable interest in assessing how effective
the CAN-SPAM Act is in reducing spam. The effectiveness of the law may be
difficult to determine, however, if for no other reason than there are various
definitions of spam. Proponents of the law argue that consumers are most irritated
by fraudulent e-mail, and that the law should reduce the volume of such e-mail
because of the civil and criminal penalties included therein. Skeptics counter that
consumers object to unsolicited commercial e-mail, and since the bill legitimizes
commercial e-mail (as long as it conforms with the law’s provisions), consumers
actually may receive more, not fewer, unsolicited commercial e-mail messages.
Thus, whether “spam” is reduced depends in part on how it is defined.

29 By Patricia Moloney Figliola, Resources, Science, and Industry Division. See also CRS
Report RL31953, Spam: An Overview of Issues Concerning Commercial Electronic Mail,
by Patricia Moloney Figliola, which is updated more frequently than this report.
30 The FCC issued those rules in August 2004. See also CRS Report RL31636, Wireless
Privacy and Spam: Issues for Congress, by Patricia Moloney Figliola, for more on wireless
privacy and wireless spam.

In December 2005, the FTC submitted a report to Congress, as required under
the CAN-SPAM Act, on the act’s effectiveness and enforcement, and whether any
changes are needed.31 Based on information from ISPs, the general public, e-
marketers, law enforcers, and technologists, the report concluded that the act has
been effective in two areas: legitimate online marketers have adopted the “best
practices” mandated by the act, and the act provides an additional tool for law
enforcement officials and ISPs to bring suits against spammers. However, it also
concluded that some aspects of the spam problem have not changed, such as its
international dimension. It also reported on a number of “troubling” changes in the
e-mail landscape, such as the inclusion of malicious content (“malware”) in spam
messages. The report outlined three steps to further improve the effectiveness of the
act: passage of legislation to improve the FTC’s ability to trace spammers and sellers
who operate outside U.S. borders; continued consumer education; and continued
improvement in anti-spam technologies, especially domain-level authentication.
Most recently, the 109th Congress passed the Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And
Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers beyond Borders Act of 2005 (US SAFE WEB )
(P.L. 109-455). The bill allows the FTC and parallel foreign law enforcement
agencies to share information while investigating allegations of “unfair and deceptive
practices” that involve foreign commerce, but raised some privacy concerns because
the FTC would not be required to make public any of the information it obtained
through foreign sources.
Protecting Children from Unsuitable Material32
Preventing children from encountering unsuitable material as they use the Web
has been a major congressional concern for many years.33 In response to this
concern, Congress has passed such laws as the 1996 Communications Decency Act
(CDA), the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA), and the 2000 Children’s
Internet Protection Act (CIPA), all of which dealt in some way with the content
found on the Internet. More recently, however, additional attention has been given
to protecting children from exploitation and predators on the Internet. For example,
in the last few years, social networking sites, such as MySpace, have become popular
with teenagers and young adults. Unfortunately, there have been a number of
incidents recently in which children were abducted and/or lured to meet adults over
these services. Because of these incidents, Congress began exploring ways to limit
children’s access to these sites, or at least to limit the ability of adults to contactth
children. During the 109 Congress, H.R. 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act
of 2006 (DOPA), would have amended the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit
schools and libraries receiving “E-Rate” funding from providing access to these types

31 FTC. “Effectiveness and Enforcement of the CAN-SPAM Act: A Report to Congress. “
December 2005. See [].
32 By Patricia Moloney Figliola, Resources, Science, and Industry Division.
33 Several laws have been passed related to this issue: Communications Decency Act (CDA)
(1996), Child Online Protection Act (COPA) (1998), Children’s Internet Protection Act
(CIPA) (2000), “Dot Kids” Act (2002), Amber Alert Act (2003), and the Adam Walsh Act

of websites to minors. The proposal was controversial because the definition of
social networking sites could potentially limit access to a wide range of websites,
including many with harmless or educational material. Although this bill did not
pass, this issue is likely to receive continued attention in the 110th Congress.
“Data retention” is another topic that is likely to receive continued attention
from policymakers in the 110th Congress. Data retention is the practice of ISPs
maintaining electronic records of subscriber activity, regardless of whether those
records have been identified as being needed for an ongoing investigation. At this
time, ISPs typically discard records that log subscriber activity when those records
are no longer required for business purposes (e.g., network monitoring, billing
disputes). However, law enforcement agencies have expressed that they would like
data to be retained for longer periods — in general, the time periods suggested have
ranged from one to two years — to ensure they can successfully prosecute online
child predators and individuals producing and downloading child pornography.
Proposals that have been discussed range from simply maintaining records of what
websites subscribers visit to requiring the storage of the contents of e-mail messages
and individual web pages visited. ISPs have expressed a number of concerns,
including the cost of retaining the data, web content being included in data retention
legislation, and the privacy and security risks of having such a massive data
warehouse available. Opponents of such legislation note that current law already
allows law enforcement agencies to mandate data retention for 90-days;34 further,
privacy advocates are concerned that police would potentially be able to obtain
records of e-mail chatter, Web browsing, or chat room activity that normally are
Internet Domain Names35
The 110th Congress will continue to monitor issues related to the Internet
domain name system (DNS). Internet domain names were created to provide users
with a simple location name for computers on the Internet, rather than using the more
complex, unique Internet Protocol (IP) number that designates their specific location.
As the Internet has grown, the method for allocating and designating domain names
has become increasingly controversial.
The Internet originated with research funding provided by the Department of
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to establish a military
network. As its use expanded, a civilian segment evolved with support from the
National Science Foundation (NSF) and other science agencies. No formal statutory

34 Under 18 USC §2703(f), any governmental entity can require any service provider
(telephone company, ISP, cable company, university) to immediately preserve any records
in its possession for up to 90 days, renewable indefinitely.
35 By Lennard G. Kruger, Resources, Science, and Industry Division. See also CRS Report

97-868, Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues, by Lennard G. Kruger,

which is updated more frequently than this report.

authorities or international agreements govern the management and operation of the
Internet and the DNS. Prior to 1993, NSF was responsible for registration of
nonmilitary generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) such as .com, .org, and .net. In
1993, the NSF entered into a five-year cooperative agreement with Network
Solutions, Inc. (NSI) to operate Internet domain name registration services. With the
cooperative agreement between NSI and NSF due to expire in 1998, the Clinton
Administration, through the Department of Commerce (DOC), began exploring ways
to transfer administration of the DNS to the private sector.
In the wake of much discussion among Internet stakeholders, and after extensive
public comment on a previous proposal, the DOC, on June 5, 1998, issued a final
statement of policy, Management of Internet Names and Addresses (also known as
the “White Paper”). The White Paper stated that the U.S. government was prepared
to recognize and enter into agreement with “a new not-for-profit corporation formed
by private sector Internet stakeholders to administer policy for the Internet name and
address system.” On October 2, 1998, the DOC accepted a proposal for an Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). On November 25, 1998,
DOC and ICANN signed an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),
whereby DOC and ICANN agreed to jointly design, develop, and test the
mechanisms, methods, and procedures necessary to transition management
responsibility for DNS functions to a private-sector not-for-profit entity.
The White Paper also signaled DOC’s intention to ramp down the government’s
Cooperative Agreement with NSI, with the objective of introducing competition into
the domain name space while maintaining stability and ensuring an orderly transition.
During this transition period, government obligations will be terminated as DNS
responsibilities are transferred to ICANN. Specifically, NSI committed to a
timetable for development of a Shared Registration System that permits multiple
registrars to provide registration services within the .com, .net., and .org gTLDs. NSI
(now VersiSign) will continue to administer the root server system until receiving
further instruction from the government.
Significant disagreements between NSI on the one hand, and ICANN and DOC
on the other, arose over how a successful and equitable transition would be made
from NSI’s previous status as exclusive registrar of .com, org. and net. domain
names, to a system that allows multiple and competing registrars. On November 10,
1999, ICANN, NSI, and DOC formally signed an agreement which provided that NSI
(now VeriSign) was required to sell its registrar operation by May 10, 2001 in order
to retain control of the dot-com registry until 2007. In April 2001, arguing that the
registrar business is now highly competitive, VeriSign reached a new agreement with
ICANN whereby its registry and registrar businesses would not have to be separated.
With DOC approval, ICANN and VeriSign signed the formal agreement on May 25,
2001. On September 17, 2003, ICANN and the Department of Commerce agreed
to extend their MOU until September 30, 2006. The MOU specified transition tasks
which ICANN has agreed to address, including implementing an objective process
for selecting new Top Level Domains; implementing an effective strategy for multi-
lingual communications and international outreach; and developing a contingency
plan, consistent with the international nature of the Internet, to ensure continuity of
operations in the event of a severe disruption of operations.

On June 30, 2005, Michael Gallagher, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for
Communications and Information and Administrator of the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), stated the U.S.
Government’s principles on the Internet’s domain name system. Specifically, NTIA
states that the U.S. Government “intends to preserve the security and stability” of the
DNS, and that “the United States is committed to taking no action that would have
the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS and
will therefore maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the
authoritative root zone file.”36 The NTIA statement also says that governments have
legitimate interests in the management of their country code top level domains, that
ICANN is the appropriate technical manager of the DNS, and that dialogue related
to Internet governance should continue in relevant multiple fora. On May 23, 2006,
NTIA announced an inquiry and public meeting seeking comment on the progress of
the transition of the technical coordination and management of the DNS to the
private sector. The public meeting was held on July 26, 2006.
On September 29, 2006, DOC announced a new Joint Project Agreement with
ICANN which continues the transition to the private sector of the coordination of
technical functions relating to management of the DNS. The Joint Project
Agreement extends through September 30, 2009, and focuses on institutionalizing
transparency and accountability mechanisms within ICANN.
Congressional Committees (primarily the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce)
maintain oversight on how the Department of Commerce manages and oversees
ICANN’s activities and policies. Some issues of current concern are discussed
Governance. The United Nations (UN), at the December 2003 World
Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), debated and agreed to study the issue of
how to achieve greater international involvement in the governance of the Internet
and the domain name system in particular. The study was conducted by the UN’s
Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). On July 14, 2005, the WGIG
released its report, stating that no single government should have a preeminent role
in relation to international Internet governance, calling for further internationalization
of Internet governance, and proposing the creation of a new global forum for Internet
stakeholders. Four possible models were put forth, including two involving the
creation of new Internet governance bodies linked to the UN. Under three of the four
models, ICANN would either be supplanted or made accountable to a higher
intergovernmental body. The report’s conclusions were scheduled to be considered
during the second phase of the WSIS to be held in Tunis in November 2005. U.S.
officials stated their opposition to transferring control and administration of the
domain name system from ICANN to any international body. Similarly, the 109th

36 Gallagher, Michael, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications, Remarks to
the Wireless Communications Association, June 30, 2005. Available at
[ /USDNSprinciples_06302005.pdf].

Congress expressed its support for maintaining U.S. control over ICANN. On
November 16, 2005, the House unanimously passed H.Con.Res. 268, which
expresses the sense of the Congress that the current system for management of the
domain name system works, and that “the authoritative root zone server should
remain physically located in the United States and the Secretary of Commerce should
maintain oversight of ICANN so that ICANN can continue to manage the day-to-day
operation of the Internet’s domain name and addressing system well, remain
responsive to all Internet stakeholders worldwide, and otherwise fulfill its core
technical mission.” A similar resolution, S.Res. 323, was passed by the Senate on
November 18, 2005 and calls on the President to “continue to oppose any effort to
transfer control of the Internet to the United Nations or any other international
The European Union (EU) initially supported the U.S. position. However,
during September 2005 preparatory meetings, the EU seemingly shifted its support
towards an approach which favored an enhanced international role in governing the
Internet. Conflict at the WSIS Tunis Summit over control of the domain name
system was averted by the announcement, on November 15, 2005, of an Internet
governance agreement between the U.S., the EU, and over 100 other nations. Under
this agreement, ICANN and the U.S. will remain in control of the domain name
system. A new international group under the auspices of the UN will be formed —
the Internet Governance Forum — which will provide an ongoing forum for all
stakeholders (both governments and nongovernmental groups) to discuss and debate
Internet policy issues. The Internet Governance Forum is slated to run for five years
and will not have binding authority. The group held its first meeting on October 30-
November 2, 2006 in Athens, Greece. The issue of ICANN and international DNS
governance was not formally addressed by the conference.
ICANN-Verisign Agreement and the .com registry. As part of a legal
settlement of a long-running dispute between ICANN and Verisign, on February 28,
2006, the ICANN Board of Directors approved (by a vote of 9-5) a new .com registry
agreement with Verisign. Under this settlement, Verisign will run the .com registry
until 2012 (with a presumption that the agreement will be renewed beyond that date),
and will be able to raise domain registration fees by 7% in four of the next six years.
These registration fees refer to the current $6 fee that a registrar (such as GoDaddy
or pays the .com registry operator (Verisign) for each .com domain
name registration purchased by the consumer. Under the agreement, Verisign will
pay ICANN a one-time sum of $625,000 to implement the agreement, as well as a
yearly registry fee, starting at $6 million per year, and going up over the next two
years to approximately $12 million.
Critics of the ICANN-Verisign settlement assert that the agreement is
anticompetitive, giving Verisign a virtually permanent monopoly over the lucrative
.com registry, while also enabling Verisign to raise registration fees without
justification. Defenders of the settlement argue that the agreement is necessary to
ensure the stability and security of the Internet by ensuring the financial stability of
ICANN, and by allowing Verisign the flexibility to raise revenue for upgrading its
infrastructure. On June 7, 2006, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing
on the ICANN-Verisign .com agreement entitled, “Contracting the Internet: Does
ICANN create a barrier to small business?”

The ICANN-Verisign .com agreement was approved by NTIA/DOC on
November 30, 2006. As a condition of its approval, NTIA retains oversight over any
changes to the pricing provisions of, or renewals of, the new .com registry
agreement. Approval of any renewal will occur if NTIA concludes that the approval
will serve the public interest in the continued security and stability of the DNS, and
in the operation of the .com registry at reasonable prices, terms and conditions.
Protecting Children on the Internet.In the 107th Congress, legislation
sought to create a “kids-friendly top level domain name” that would contain only age-
appropriate content. The Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 was
signed into law on December 4, 2002 (P.L. 107-317), and authorizes the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to require the .us
registry operator (currently NeuStar) to establish, operate, and maintain a second
level domain within the .us TLD that is restricted to material suitable for minors.
In the 108th Congress, P.L. 108-21/S. 151 (PROTECT Act) contains a provision
(Section 108: Misleading Domain Names on the Internet) which makes it a
punishable crime to knowingly use a misleading domain name with the intent to
deceive a person into viewing obscenity on the Internet. Increased penalties are
provided for deceiving minors into viewing harmful material. In the 109th Congress,
the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-248), signed into
law on July 27, 2006, increases the maximum sentence from four years to ten years
for deceiving minors into viewing harmful material.
Meanwhile, on June 1, 2005, ICANN announced that it had entered into
commercial and technical negotiations with a registry company (ICM Registry) to
operate a new “.xxx” domain, which would be designated for use by adult websites.
Registration by adult websites into the .xxx domain would be purely voluntary, and
those sites would not be required to give up their existing sites. Announcement of
a .xxx domain has proven controversial. With the ICANN Board scheduled to
consider final approval of the .xxx domain on August 16, 2005, the Department of
Commerce sent a letter to ICANN requesting that adequate additional time be
provided to allow ICANN to address the objections of individuals expressing
concerns about the impact of pornography on families and children and opposing the
creation of a new top level domain devoted to adult content. ICANN’s Government
Advisory Committee (GAC) also requested more time before the final decision. At
the March 2006 Board meeting in New Zealand, the ICANN Board authorized
ICANN staff to continue negotiations with ICM Registry to address concerns raised
by the DOC and the GAC. However, on May 10, 2006, the Board voted voted 9-5
against accepting the proposed agreement, but did not rule out accepting a revised
agreement. Subsequently, on January 5, 2007, ICANN published for public comment
a proposed revised agreement with ICM Registry to establish a .xxx domain. The
revised agreement would include additional safeguards intended to protect children

37 For more information, see:
[ ht t p: / / www.i cann.or g/ announcement s / a nnouncement -05j m]

Meanwhile in the 109th Congress, on March 16, 2006, Senator Baucus
introduced the Cyber Safety for Kids Act of 2006 (S. 2426), which would require
NTIA to compel ICANN to establish a new top level domain name — such as .xxx
— exclusively for material harmful to minors. Websites with material harmful to
minors would be required to switch to the new domain. Those that do not would face
civil penalties from NTIA.38 S. 2426 was ultimately not enacted by the 109th
Trademark Disputes. The increase in conflicts over property rights to
certain trademarked names has resulted in a number of lawsuits. The White Paper
called upon the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to develop a set of
recommendations for trademark/domain name dispute resolutions, and to submit
those recommendations to ICANN. At ICANN’s August 1999 meeting in Santiago,
the board of directors adopted a dispute resolution policy to be applied uniformly by
all ICANN-accredited registrars. Under this policy, registrars receiving complaints
will take no action until receiving instructions from the domain-name holder or an
order of a court or arbitrator. An exception is made for “abusive registrations” (i.e.,
cybersquatting and cyberpiracy), whereby a special administrative procedure
(conducted largely online by a neutral panel, lasting 45 days or less, and costing
about $1000) will resolve the dispute. Implementation of ICANN’s Domain Nameth
Dispute Resolution Policy commenced on December 9, 1999. Meanwhile, the 106
Congress passed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (incorporated into
P.L. 106-113, the FY2000 Consolidated Appropriations Act). The act gives courts
the authority to order the forfeiture, cancellation, and/or transfer of domain names
registered in “bad faith” that are identical or similar to trademarks, and provides for
statutory civil damages of at least $1,000, but not more than $100,000, per domain
name identifier.
Privacy. Any person or entity who registers a domain name is required to
provide contact information (phone number, address, email) which is entered into a
public online database (the “WHOIS” database). The scope and accessibility of
WHOIS database information has been an issue of contention. Privacy advocates
have argued that access to such information should be limited, while many
businesses, intellectual property interests, law enforcement agencies, and the U.S.
Government have argued that complete and accurate WHOIS information should
continue to be publicly accessible. Over the past several years, ICANN has debated
this issue through its Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). The GNSO
— composed of stakeholder constituencies — is developing policy
recommendations on what data should be publicly available through the WHOIS
On April 12, 2006, the GNSO approved an official “working definition” for the
purpose of the public display of WHOIS information. The GNSO supported a
narrow technical definition favored by privacy advocates, registries, registrars, and
non-commercial user constituencies, rather then a more expansive definition favored
by intellectual property interests, business constituencies, Internet service providers,

38 See CRS Report RL33224, Constitutionality of Requiring Sexually Explicit Material on
the Internet to be Under a Separate Domain Name, by Henry Cohen.

law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Commerce (through its
participation in ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee). At ICANN’s June
2006 meeting, opponents of limiting access to WHOIS data continued urging ICANN
to reconsider the working definition. The GNSO will next decide what data should
be available for public access in the context of the working definition.39 On July 18,
2006, the House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Financial
Institutions and Consumer Credit held a hearing on ICANN and the WHOIS
Meanwhile, over the past several years, with the WHOIS database continuing
to be publically accessible, registrants who wish to maintain their privacy have been
able to register anonymously using a proxy service offered by some registrars. In
February 2005, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
(NTIA) — which has authority over the .us domain name — notified Neustar (the
company that administers .us) that proxy or private domain registrations will no
longer be allowed for .us domain name registrations, and that registrars must provide
correct WHOIS information for all existing customers by January 26, 2006.
According to NTIA, this action will provide an assurance of accuracy to the
American public and to law enforcement officials. The NTIA policy is opposed by
privacy groups and registrars (such as Go Daddy) who argue that the privacy,
anonymity, and safety of people registering .us domain names will be needlessly
In a related development, during the 108th Congress, the Fraudulent Online
Identity Sanctions Act was incorporated as Title II of H.R. 3632, the Intellectual
Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act of 2004, signed by the President on
December 23, 2004 (P.L. 108-482). The act increases criminal penalties for those
who submit false contact information when registering a domain name that is
subsequently used to commit a crime or engage in copyright or trademark
Government Information Technology Management40
The evolving role of the Internet in the political economy of the United States
continues to attract increased congressional attention to government information
technology management issues. Interest has been further heightened by national
information infrastructure development efforts, e-government projects, and homeland
security initiatives. Although wide-ranging, some of the most significant information
technology management challenges facing the federal government include FCC
regulation of converging technologies, funding for information technology research
and development, ongoing development and oversight of electronic government (e-
government) initiatives, and the growing use of open source software by federal

39 See ICANN “Whois Services” page, available at
[ ht t p: / / www.i cann.or g/ t opi cs/ whoi s-ser vi ces/ ]
40 See also CRS Report RL30661, Government Information Technology Management: Past
and Future Issues (the Clinger-Cohen Act), by Jeffrey W. Seifert.

The Federal Communications Commission41
One of the most significant issues facing the FCC is the evolution of the
communications industry towards an all-digital, broadband world that has blurred the
distinctions between services, also called “convergence.” The FCC has restructured
over the past few years to better reflect the realities of convergence, but the agency
is still required to adhere to the statutory requirements of its governing legislation,
the Communications Act of 1934. Thus, while convergence has made distinguishing
among types of data increasingly difficult, the FCC must continue to differentiate
among services based on the distinctions drawn in the 1934 Act. Unfortunately,
when all data looks the same and functionally similar services are provided by
companies governed by different titles of the 1934 Act, questions of fairness and
competitive advantage may arise. As newer technologies and services are developed
and deployed, applying legacy regulations to them may begin to appear more
The FCC has continued to address a number of issues directly related to
convergence: the regulatory classification of services via the Internet protocol (e.g.,
voice over Internet Protocol [VoIP]) and law enforcement’s ability to conduct
wiretaps effectively (i.e., using the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement
Act [CALEA]). During the 110th Congress, as there was during the 109th Congress,
there may be legislation to enact a national franchising system for video service
providers. If so, this will likely require additional attention from the FCC as well.
The FCC will also remain focused on broadband deployment. The agency will
continue to monitor its policies to encourage new providers to roll out new services
(e.g., power companies will be deploying broadband over powerlines [BPL]) as well
as continue to promote deployment to underserved areas and populations, i.e., rural
and low-income communities, through universal service and other programs (e.g., the
One of the difficulties in addressing the issues facing the FCC is that so many
of them now intersect. So many of the broadband issues are inter-related that it is
often difficult to sort out where one issue ends and another begins. For example,
VoIP, CALEA, and BPL are all tied to the concept of broadband convergence and
reliance on the Internet for information and it becomes difficult, if not impossible,
to discuss one without touching on the others. Effectively addressing these types of
issues may well be the greatest challenge facing both the FCC and Congress in the
near future.

41 By Patricia Moloney Figliola, Resources, Science, and Industry Division. For more
information, see CRS Report RL32589, The Federal Communications Commission: Current
Structure and its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape, by Patricia
Moloney Figliola; and CRS Report RL33542, Broadband Internet Access: Background and
Issues by Angele A. Gilroy and Lennard G. Kruger, both of which are updated more
frequently than this report.

Information Technology R&D42
At the federal level, almost all of the funding for information science and
technology and Internet development is part of a single government-wide initiative,
the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program
(NITRD). This program was previously (1997-2000) called the Computing,
Information, and Communications program (CIC) and, prior to that (1992-1997), the
High Performance Computing and Communications program (HPCC). The NITRD
is an interagency effort to coordinate key advances in information technology (IT)
research and leverage funding into broader advances in computing and networking
technologies. Under the NITRD, participating agencies receive support for high-
performance computing science and technology, information technology software
and hardware, networks and Internet-driven applications, and education and training
for personnel. The FY2007 budget calls for $3.074 billion for the NITRD Program,
an increase of $0.21 billion over the FY2006 budget estimate of $2.855 billion.
Research emphases are focused on eight program component areas (also called
PCAs): High-End Computing (HEC) Infrastructure and Applications, HEC Research
and Development, Cyber Security and Information Assurance, Human Computer
Interaction and Information Management, Large Scale Networking, Software Design
and Productivity, High Confidence Software and Systems, and Social, Economic, and
Workforce Implications of IT and IT Workforce Development. Key issues facing
congressional policymakers include whether NITRD is accomplishing its goals and
objectives to enhance U.S. information technology research and development,
whether the funding level is appropriate or should be changed to reflect changing
U.S. priorities, and defining the private sector’s role in this initiative.
Electronic Government (E-Government)43
Electronic government (e-government) is an evolving concept, meaning
different things to different people. However, it has significant relevance to four
important areas of governance: (1) delivery of services (government-to-citizen, or
G2C); (2) providing information (also G2C); (3) facilitating the procurement of
goods and services (government-to-business, or G2B, and business-to-government,
or B2G); and (4) facilitating efficient exchanges within and between agencies
(government-to-government, or G2G). For policymakers concerned about e-
government, a central area of concern is developing a comprehensive but flexible
strategy to coordinate the disparate e-government initiatives across the federal

42 By Patricia Moloney Figliola, Resources, Science, and Industry Division. See also CRS
Report RL33586, The Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and
Development Program: Funding Issues and Activities, by Patricia Moloney Figliola, which
is updated more frequently than this report.
43 By Jeffrey W. Seifert, Resources, Science, and Industry Division. See also CRS Report
RL31057, A Primer on E-Government: Sectors, Stages, Opportunities, and Challenges of
Online Governance, by Jeffrey W. Seifert, which is updated more frequently than this

The movement to put government online raises as many issues as it provides
new opportunities. Some of these issues include, but are not limited to: security,
privacy, management of governmental technology resources, accessibility of
government services (including “digital divide” concerns as a result of a lack of skills
or access to computers, discussed earlier), and preservation of public information
(maintaining comparable freedom of information procedures for digital documents
as exist for paper documents). Although these issues are neither new nor unique to
e-government, they do present the challenge of performing governance functions
online without sacrificing the accountability of, or public access to, government that
citizens have grown to expect. Some industry groups have also raised concerns about
the U.S. government becoming a publicly funded market competitor through the
provision of fee-for-services such as the U.S. Postal Service’s now-discontinued
eBillPay service, which allowed consumers to schedule and make payments to
creditors online [].
E-government initiatives vary significantly in their breadth and depth from state
to state and agency to agency. Perhaps one of the most well-known federal examples
is the FirstGov website [], which first went online on
September 22, 2000. FirstGov is a Web portal designed to serve as a single locus
point for finding federal government information on the Internet. The FirstGov site
also provides access to a variety of state and local government resources. Another
example is the initiative [], which is designed to
provide a single portal for all available federal grants, enabling users to search,
download applications, and apply for grants online. At the Department of Treasury,
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the Free File initiative
[,,id=118986,00.html], which has partnered with
industry to provide free online tax preparation and electronic filing services for
eligible taxpayers.
Pursuant to the July 18, 2001, OMB Memorandum M-01-28, an E-Government
Task Force was established to create a strategy for achieving the Bush
Administration’s e-government goals.44 In doing so, the Task Force identified 23
interagency initiatives designed to better integrate agency operations and information
technology investments. These initiatives, sometimes referred to as the Quicksilver
projects, are grouped into four categories; government-to-citizen, government-to-
government, government-to-business, and internal effectiveness and efficiency.
Examples of these initiatives include an e-authentication project led by the General
Services Administration (GSA) to increase the use of digital signatures, the eligibility
assistance online project (also referred to as led by the Department
of Labor to create a common access point for information regarding government
benefits available to citizens, and the Small Business Administration’s One-Stop
Business Compliance project, being designed to help businesses navigate legal and
regulatory requirements. A 24th initiative, a government wide payroll process project,
was subsequently added by the President’s Management Council. In 2002 the e-
Clearance initiative, originally included as part of the Enterprise Human Resources
Integration project, was established as a separate project, for a total of 25 initiatives.
Since that time, the Bush Administration has reclassified the e-Authentication

44 See [].

initiative as “a separate initiative that provides secure and robust authentication
services to the 24 [i]nitiatives,” bringing the official tally again to 24 initiatives.45
As the initial round of e-government projects has matured, OMB has focused
attention on initiatives that consolidate information technology systems in nine
functional areas, or Lines of Business (LoB). These include financial management,
human resource management, grants management, case management, federal health
architecture, information security, budget formulation and evaluation, geospatial
systems, and information technology infrastructure. These initiatives were chosen,
in part, because they represent core business functions common to many departments
and agencies, and/or have the potential to reap significant efficiency and efficacy
gains. These LoB initiatives are anticipated to create $5 billion in savings over 10
On December 17, 2002, President Bush signed the E-Government Act of 2002
(P.L. 107-347) into law. The law contains a variety of provisions related to federal
government information technology management, information security, and the
provision of services and information electronically. One of the most recognized
provisions involves the creation of an Office of Electronic Government within OMB.
The Office is headed by an Administrator, who is responsible for carrying out a
variety of information resources management (IRM) functions, as well as
administering the interagency E-Government Fund provided for by the law.
For the 110th Congress, continued oversight of the Quicksilver projects, the
implementation of the E-Government Act, and the development and funding of the
second generation Lines of Business e-government initiatives are the primary
oversight issues. Other issues include ongoing efforts to develop a federal enterprise
architecture, which serves as a blueprint of the business functions of an organization,
and the technology used to carry out these functions
[]; the recruitment and retention
of IT managers, at both the chief information officer (CIO) and project manager
levels; and balancing the sometimes competing demands of e-government and
homeland security.
Open Source Software46
The use of open source software by the federal government has been gaining
attention as organizations continue to search for opportunities to enhance their
information technology (IT) operations while containing costs. A growing number
of state and local governments have also been exploring the official adoption of open
source software. Likewise, open source software may also play a role in the growth
of regional health information organizations (RHIOs), as part of an effort to spread
the use of e-health records. For the federal government and Congress, the debate
over the use of open source software intersects several other issues, including, but not
limited to, the development of homeland security and e-government initiatives,

45 See [].
46 By Jeffrey W. Seifert, Resources, Science, and Industry Division. See also CRS Report
RL31627, Computer Software and Open Source Issues: A Primer, by Jeffrey W. Seifert.

improving government information technology management practices, strengthening
computer security, and protecting intellectual property rights. In the 110th Congress,
the debate over open source software is anticipated to revolve primarily around
information security and intellectual property rights, including the possible
development of a legal definition of open source software. However, issues related
to cost and quality are likely to be raised as well.
Open source software refers to a computer program whose source code, or
programming instructions, is made available to the general public to be improved or
modified as the user wishes. Some examples of open source software include the
Linux operating system and Apache Web server software. In contrast, closed source,
or proprietary, programs are those whose source code is not made available and can
only be altered by the software manufacturer. In the case of closed source software,
updates to a program are usually distributed in the form of a patch or as a new
version of the program that the user can install but not alter. Some examples of
closed source software include Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect. The
majority of software products most commonly used, such as operating systems, word
processing programs, and databases, are closed source programs.
For proponents, open source software is often viewed as a means to reduce an
organization’s dependence on the software products of a few companies while
possibly improving the security and stability of one’s computing infrastructure. For
critics, open source software is often viewed as a threat to intellectual property rights
with unproven cost and quality benefits. So far there appear to be no systematic
analyses available that have conclusively compared closed source to open source
software on the issue of security. In practice, computer security is highly dependent
on how an application is configured, maintained, and monitored. Similarly, the costs
of implementing an open source solution are dependent upon factors such as the cost
of acquiring the hardware/software, investments in training for IT personnel and end
users, maintenance and support costs, and the resources required to convert data and
applications to work in the new computing environment. Consequently, some
computer experts suggest that it is not possible to conclude that either open source
or closed source software is inherently more secure or more cost efficient.
The official U.S. federal government policy regarding the use of open source
software by government agencies is described in a July 2004 Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) memorandum on software acquisition, M-04-16 Memoranda for
Senior Procurement Executives, Chief Information Officers, Software Acquisition.
The memorandum states that the policies guiding government information
technology investment decisions are “technology and vendor neutral” and that
agencies’ technology choices “must be consistent with the agency’s enterprise
architecture and the Federal Enterprise Architecture.”47 Agencies are also instructed
to take into account a number of other merit-based factors, including information
security, licensing requirements, and total cost of ownership. Implicit in these

47 For more information about enterprise architectures generally, and the Federal Enterprise
Architecture (FEA) specifically, see CRS Report RL33417, Federal Enterprise Architecture
and E-Government: Issues for Information Technology Management, by Jeffrey W. Seifert.

requirements is an expectation that agencies will also make choices based on the
quality of the product.
The growing emphasis on improved information security and critical
infrastructure protection overall, will likely be an influential factor in future decisions
to implement open source solutions. The rapidly changing computer environment
may also foster the use of a combination of open source and closed source
applications, rather than creating a need to choose one option at the exclusion of

Appendix A: List of Acronyms
Alphabetical Listing
B2B Business-to-Busines s
B2 G Business-to-Government
BOCBell Operating Company
CIOChief Information Officer
DMADirect Marketing Association
DNSDomain Name System
DOCDepartment of Commerce
DSLDigital Subscriber Line
FBIFederal Bureau of Investigation
FCCFederal Communications Commission
FTCFederal Trade Commission
G2B Government-to-Bu siness
G2C Government-to-Citizen
G2G Government-to-Government
GAOGovernment Accountability Office (formerly General
Accounting Office)
GSAGeneral Services Administration
gTLDgeneric Top Level Domain
ICANNInternet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
ILECIncumbent Local Exchange Carrier
IPInternet Protocol
ISPInternet Service Provider
ITInformation Technology
LATALocal Access and Transport Area
LECLocal Exchange Carrier
MOUMemorandum of Understanding
NGINext Generation Internet

NISTNational Institute for Standards and Technology (part of
Department of Commerce)
NSINetwork Solutions, Inc,
NSFNational Science Foundation
NTIANational Telecommunications and Information
Administration (part of Department of Commerce)
OMBOffice of Management and Budget
OPAOnline Privacy Alliance
OSSOpen Source Software
SSNSocial Security Number
TLDTop Level Domain
UCEUnsolicited Commercial E-mail
WIPOWorld Intellectual Property Organization
Categorical Listing
U.S. Government Entities
DOCDepartment of Commerce
FBIFederal Bureau of Investigation
FCCFederal Communications Commission
FTCFederal Trade Commission
GAOGovernment Accountability Office (formerly General
Accounting Office)
GSAGeneral Services Administration
NISTNational Institute of Standards and Technology (part of
Department of Commerce)
NSFNational Science Foundation
NTIANational Telecommunications and Information
Administration (part of Department of Commerce)
OMBOffice of Management and Budget
Private Sector Entities
BOCBell Operating Company

DMADirect Marketing Association
ICANNInternet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
ILECIncumbent Local Exchange Carrier
ISPInternet Service Provider
LECLocal Exchange Carrier
NSINetwork Solutions, Inc.
General Types of Internet Services
B2B Business-to-Busines s
B2 G Business-to-Government
G2B Government-to-Bu siness
G2C Government-to-Citizen
G2G Government-to-Government
Internet and Telecommunications Terminology
CIOChief Information Officer
DNSDomain Name System
DSLDigital Subscriber Line
gTLDgeneric Top Level Domain
IPInternet Protocol
ITInformation Technology
LATALocal Access and Transport Area
NGINext Generation Internet
OSSOpen Source Software
TLDTop Level Domain
UCEUnsolicited Commercial E-mail
MOUMemorandum of Understanding
SSNSocial Security Number
WIPOWorld Intellectual Property Organization

Appendix B: Legislation Passed
by the 105th-109th Congresses
During the years that this report has been published (since the 105th Congress),
various topics have been covered based on congressional interest and action. Some
of those issues continue to be of interest to Congress and are discussed in this edition
of the report. Others, however, appear to be resolved from a congressional point of
view, and therefore are not discussed in the main text. Nevertheless, it appears useful
to retain information about legislation that passed on those subjects. Following is
such a summary of all laws that have been tracked in this report over the years, by
topic. Tables showing which laws were passed in each Congress appear at the end of
this section.
Broadband Internet Access
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171, Section
6103) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to make loans and loan guarantees to
eligible entities for facilities and equipment providing broadband service in rural
communities. The National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (P.L.
107-368, Section 18(d)) directs the National Science Foundation to conduct a study
of broadband network access for schools and libraries.
The Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (Title II of H.R. 5419, P.L.
108-494) seeks to make more spectrum available for wireless broadband and other
services by facilitating the reallocation of spectrum from government to commercial
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-171), Title III sets a hard deadline
for the digital television transition, thereby reclaiming analog television spectrum to
be auctioned for commercial applications such as wireless broadband.
Computer Security
The Computer Crime Enforcement Act (P.L. 106-572) establishes Department
of Justice grants to state and local authorities to help them investigate and prosecute
computer crimes. The law authorizes the expenditure of $25 million for the grant
program through FY2004. The FY2001 Department of Defense Authorization Act
(P.L. 106-398) includes language that originated in S. 1993 to modify the Paperwork
Reduction Act and other relevant statutes concerning computer security of government
systems, codifying agency responsibilities regarding computer security.
Internet Privacy (Including Identity Theft)
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (P.L. 105-318) sets
penalties for persons who knowingly, and with the intent to commit unlawful
activities, possess, transfer, or use one or more means of identification not legally
issued for use to that person.

Language in the FY2001 Transportation Appropriations Act (P.L. 106-246)
and the FY2001 Treasury-General Government Appropriations Act (included as
part of the FY2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 106-554) addresses website
information collection practices by departments and agencies. Section 501 of the
FY2001 Transportation Appropriations Act prohibits funds in the FY2001 Treasury-
General Government Appropriations Act from being used by any federal agency to
collect, review, or create aggregate lists that include personally identifiable
information (PII) about an individual’s access to or use of a federal website, or enter
into agreements with third parties to do so, with exceptions. Section 646 of the
FY2001 Treasury-General Government Appropriations Act requires Inspectors
General of agencies or departments covered in that act to report to Congress within
60 days of enactment on activities by those agencies or departments relating to the
collection of PII about individuals who access any Internet site of that department or
agency, or entering into agreements with third parties to obtain PII about use of
government or non-government websites.
The Internet False Identification Prevention Act (P.L. 106-578) updates
existing law against selling or distributing false identification documents to include
those sold or distributed through computer files, templates, and disks. It also requires
the Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury to create a coordinating committee
to ensure that the creation and distribution of false IDs is vigorously investigated and
The USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56), passed in the wake of the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks, inter alia expands law enforcement’s authority to monitor
Internet activities. The Cyber Security Enhancement Act, included as section 225
of the Homeland Security Act (P.L. 107-296), amends the USA PATRIOT Act to
further loosen restrictions on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as to when, and to
whom, they can voluntarily release information about subscribers.
Prior to the terrorist attacks, concern had focused on the opposite issue —
whether law enforcement officials might be overstepping their authority when using
a software program named Carnivore (later renamed DCS 1000) to monitor Internet
activities. Although the USA PATRIOT Act expands law enforcement’s authority to
monitor Internet activities, Congress also passed a provision in the 21st Century
Department of Justice Authorization Act (P.L. 107-273, section 305) requiring the
Justice Department to notify Congress about its use of Carnivore or similar systems.
The E-Government Act (P.L. 107-347), inter alia, sets requirements on
government agencies as to how they assure the privacy of personal information in
government information systems and establishes guidelines for privacy policies for
federal websites.
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act (P.L. 108-458) was
passed largely in response to recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, which
investigated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Among its many provisions, the
act creates a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (Section 1061), composed
of five members, two of whom (the chairman and vice-chairman) must be confirmed
by the Senate. The Board’s mandate is to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are not
neglected when implementing terrorism-related laws, regulations, and policies. The

9/11 Commission had recommended creation of such a Board because of concern that
the USA PATRIOT Act, enacted soon after the attacks, shifts the balance of power to
the government.
Spam: Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail
The CAN-SPAM Act, P.L. 108-187, sets civil or criminal penalties if senders
of commercial e-mail do not provide a legitimate opportunity for recipients to “opt-
out” of receiving further commercial e-mail from the sender, if they use deceptive
subject headings, if they use fraudulent information in the header of the message, if
they “harvest” e-mail addresses from the Internet or use “dictionary attacks” to create
e-mail addresses, if they access someone else’s computer without authorization and
use it to send multiple commercial e-mail messages, or engage in certain other
activities connected with sending “spam.” Spam is variously defined by participants
in the debate as unsolicited commercial e-mail, unwanted commercial e-mail, or
fraudulent commercial e-mail. The CAN-SPAM Act preempts state laws that
specifically regulate electronic mail, but not other state laws, such as trespass,
contract, or tort law, or other state laws to the extent they relate to fraud or computer
crime. It authorizes, but does not require, the Federal Trade Commission to establish
a centralized “do not e-mail” list similar to the National Do Not Call list for
telemarketing. The FTC has concluded that a do not e-mail list is not feasible at this
The Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers
beyond Borders Act of 2005 (US SAFE WEB), P.L. 109-455 would allow the
Federal Trade Commission and parallel foreign law enforcement agencies to share
information while investigating allegations of “unfair and deceptive practices” that
involve foreign commerce.
Internet Domain Names
The Next Generation Internet Research Act (P.L. 105-305) directs the
National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the short- and long-term effects
on trademark rights of adding new generation top-level domains and related dispute
resolution procedures.
The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (part of the FY2000
Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 106-113) gives courts the authority to order
the forfeiture, cancellation, and/or transfer of domain names registered in “bad faith”
that are identical or similar to trademarks. The act provides for statutory civil
damages of at least $1,000, but not more than $100,000 per domain name identifier.
The Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-317)
directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the
Department of Commerce to require the .us registry operator to establish, operate, and
maintain a second level domain that is restricted to material suitable for minors.

The PROTECT Act (P.L. 108-21) contains a provision (Sec. 108, Misleading
Domain Names on the Internet) that makes it a punishable crime to knowingly use a
misleading domain name with the intent to deceive a person into viewing obscenity
on the Internet. Increased penalties are provided for deceiving minors into viewing
harmful material. (CRS Report RS21328, Internet: Status Report on Legislative
Attempts to Protect Children from Unsuitable Material on the Web, by Patricia
Moloney Figliola, provides further information on this and other legislative efforts
to protect children from unsuitable material on the Internet.)
The Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act (Title II of the Intellectual
Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act of 2004, P.L. 108-482) increases
criminal penalties for those who submit false contact information when registering a
domain name that is subsequently used to commit a crime or engage in copyright or
trademark infringement.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-248)
increases the penalty from 4 to 10 years’ imprisonment for persons who knowingly
use a misleading domain name with the intent to deceive a minor into viewing harmful
Protecting Children from Unsuitable Material
and Predators on the Internet
The Child Online Protection Act, Title XIV of Division C of the FY1999
Omnibus Appropriations Act, P.L. 105-277), made it a crime to send material over
the Web that is “harmful to minors” to children. Similar language was also included
in the Internet Tax Freedom Act (Title XI of Division C of the same act). Called
“CDA II” by some in reference to the Communications Decency Act that passed
Congress in 1996, but was overturned by the Supreme Court, the bill restricted access
to commercial material that is “harmful to minors” distributed on the World Wide
Web to those 17 and older. This act also was challenged in the courts. See CRS
Report 98-670, Obscenity, Child Pornography, and Indecency: Recent Developments
and Pending Issues, by Henry Cohen, for a summary of court actions.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (Title XIII of Division C of the
FY1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act, P.L. 105-277), requires verifiable parental
consent for the collection, use, or dissemination of personally identifiable information
from children under 13.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act (P.L. 105-314) is a
broad law addressing concerns about sexual predators. Among its provisions are
increased penalties for anyone who uses a computer to persuade, entice, coerce, or
facilitate the transport of a child to engage in prohibited sexual activity, a requirement
that Internet service providers report to law enforcement if they become aware of child
pornography activities, a requirement that federal prisoners using the Internet be
supervised, and a requirement for a study by the National Academy of Sciences on
how to reduce the availability to children of pornography on the Internet.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (Title XVII of the FY2001 Labor-HHS
Appropriations Act, included in the FY2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L.
106-554) requires most schools and libraries that receive federal funding through Title
III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Museum and Library Services
Act, or “E-rate” subsidies from the universal service fund, to use technology
protection measures (filtering software or other technologies) to block certain websites
when computers are being used by minors, and in some cases, by adults. When
minors are using the computers, the technology protection measure must block access
to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors. When
others are using the computers, the technology must block visual depictions that are
obscene or are child pornography. The technology protection measure may be
disabled by authorized persons to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful
The E-Government Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-347) amends Title 44 U.S.C. by
adding Chapter 36 — Management and Promotion of Electronic Government
Services, and Chapter 37 — Information Technology Management Program, which
includes a variety of provisions related to information technology management and
the provision of e-government services. Among its provisions, the law establishes an
Office of Electronic Government in the Office of Management and Budget to be
headed by an Administrator appointed by the President. It also authorizes $345
million through FY2006 for an E-Government Fund to support initiatives, including
interagency and intergovernmental projects, that involve the “development and
implementation of innovative uses of the Internet or other electronic methods, to
conduct activities electronically.” Additionally, the law includes language that re-
authorizes and amends the Government Information Security Reform Act (GISRA),
establishes an information technology worker exchange program between the federal
government and the private sector, promotes the use of Share-In-Savings procurement
contracts, and establishes coordination and oversight policies for the protection of
confidential information and statistical efficiency (the Confidential Information
Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002).
Intellectual Property
Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (P.L. 105-304)
implementing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties regarding
protection of copyright on the Internet. The law also limits copyright infringement
liability for online service providers that serve only as conduits of information.
Electronic and Digital Signatures
The Government Paperwork Elimination Act (Title XVII of Division C of
the Omnibus Appropriations Act, P.L. 105-277)directs the Office of Management and
Budget to develop procedures for the use and acceptance of “electronic” signatures
(of which digital signatures are one type) by executive branch agencies.

The Millennium Digital Commerce Act (P.L. 106-229) regulates Internet
electronic commerce by permitting and encouraging its continued expansion through
the operation of free market forces, including the legal recognition of electronic
signatures and electronic records.
Electronic Commerce
The Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act (P.L. 107-75) extended the Internet
tax moratorium through November 1, 2003. Facing expiration of that moratorium,
Congress passed the Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-435).
Among its provisions, the act: 1) extended the e-commerce tax moratorium for four
years, from November 1, 2003 through November 1, 2007; 2) expanded the definition
of Internet access to include both providers and buyers of Internet access; 3)
grandfathered through November 1, 2007, Internet access taxes enforced before
October 1, 1998; 4) similarly grandfathered through November 1, 2005 Internet access
taxes enforced before November 1, 2003; and 5) excluded Voice Over Internet
Protocol (VoIP) and similar voice services.
Table 1. Summary of Legislation Passed by the 105th Congress
TitlePublic law number
FY1999 Omnibus Consolidated and EmergencyP.L. 105-277
Supplemental Appropriations Act
Internet Tax Freedom ActDivision C, Title XI
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Division C, Title XIII
Child Online Protection ActDivision C, Title XIV
Government Paperwork Elimination ActDivision C, Title XVII
Protection of Children from Sexual Predators ActP.L. 105-314
Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act P.L. 105-318
Digital Millennium Copyright ActP.L. 105-304
Next Generation Internet Research ActP.L. 105-305
Table 2. Summary of Legislation Passed by the 106th Congress
TitlePublic law number
Millennium Digital Commerce ActP.L. 106-229
Computer Crime Enforcement ActP.L. 106-572
FY2001 Transportation Appropriations Act, section 501 P.L. 106-246
FY2001 Treasury-General Government Appropriations Act,P.L. 106-554

section 646 (enacted by reference in the FY2001
Consolidated Appropriations Act)

Internet False Identification Prevention ActP.L. 106-578
Children’s Internet Protection Act (Title XVII of the FY2001P.L. 106-554
Labor-HHS Appropriations Act, enacted by reference in the
FY2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act)
Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (enacted byP.L. 106-113
reference in the FY2000 Consolidated Appropriations Act)
Table 3. Summary of Legislation Passed by the 107th Congress
TitlePublic law number
Uniting and Strengthening America by ProvidingP.L. 107-56
Appropriate Tools to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism
Internet Tax Nondiscrimination ActP.L. 107-75
Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (Section 6103)P.L. 107-171
Cyber Security Enhancement Act (Section 225 of theP.L. 107-296
Homeland Security Act)
21st Century Department of Justice Authorization ActP.L. 107-297
(Section 305)
Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency ActP.L. 107-317
E-Government ActP.L. 107-347
National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002P.L. 107-368
(Section 18d)
Table 4. Summary of Legislation Passed by the 108th Congress
TitlePublic law number
PROTECT Act (Section 108, Misleading DomainP.L. 108-21
Names on the Internet)
CAN-SPAM ActP.L. 108-187
Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act of 2003P.L. 108-435
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection ActP.L. 108-458
(Section 1061)
Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act (Title II of theP.L. 108-482
Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments
Act of 2004)
Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (Title II of theP.L. 108-494

ENHANCE 911 Act)

Table 5. Summary of Legislation Passed by the 109th Congress
TitlePublic law number
Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (Title III, DigitalP.L. 109-171
Television Transition and Public Safety)
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006P.L. 109-248
Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And Fraud EnforcementP.L. 109-455

With Enforcers beyond Borders Act of 2005 (US SAFE