Internet and Telecommunications Policy

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Protecting Consumers and Businesses from Fraudulent Robocalls

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) regulates robocalls. A robocall, also known as “voice broadcasting,” is any telephone call that delivers a prerecorded message using an automatic (computerized) telephone dialing system, more commonly referred to as an automatic dialer or “autodialer.” Robocalls are popular with many industry groups, such as real estate, telemarketing, and direct sales companies. The majority of companies who use robocalling are legitimate businesses, but some are not. Those illegitimate businesses may not just be annoying consumers—they may also be...

The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent federal agency with its five members appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 (1934 Act) and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The mission of the FCC is to ensure that the American people have available—at reasonable cost and without discrimination—rapid, efficient, nation- and worldwide communication services, whether by radio, television, wire, satellite, or...

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the internet, to ensure equal access and nondiscriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” There is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” but most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2018 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bills include funding for more than two dozen independent agencies in addition to the larger entities in the bill (Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the District of Columbia, and the judiciary). Among these are Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration (GSA), National...

Next Generation 911 Technologies: Select Issues for Congress

In 2018, Congress and 911 advocates celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first 911 call. Over the past 50 years, states and localities have adopted 911 as the number to call during emergencies, established 911 centers (also known as Public Safety Answering Points or PSAPs) to receive and manage 911 calls, managed and funded their local PSAPs, and educated the public on 911 use. Today, 911 services are available in most jurisdictions in the United States, people know 911 is the number to call in emergencies, and 911 systems have helped to save lives.

However, there are challenges. In...

The Current State of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform and Management

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the federal government budgets more than $80 billion each year on information technology (IT) investments and in FY2017, GAO estimates that this investment will increase to more than $89 billion. Historically, the projects supported by these investments have often incurred “multi-million dollar cost overruns and years-long schedule delays.” In addition, GAO has reported that these projects may contribute little to mission-related outcomes and, in some cases, may fail altogether. These undesirable results, according to GAO, “can...

Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century

Songwriters and recording artists are legally entitled to get paid for (1) reproductions and public performances of the notes and lyrics they create (the musical works), as well as (2) reproductions, distributions, and certain digital performances of the recorded sound of their voices combined with instruments (the sound recordings). The amount they get paid, as well as their control over their music, depends on market forces, contracts among a variety of private-sector entities, and laws governing copyright and competition policy.

Congress first enacted laws governing music licensing in...

Federal Grants and Loans for State and Local Emergency Communications Projects: Frequently Asked Questions

Improving emergency communications has been an area of congressional interest for many years. Before September 11, 2001, Congress provided funding through grants, which could be used to improve state and local emergency communications through purchases of police and fire radios, construction of communication towers, and disaster planning, training, and exercises. After September 11, 2001, Congress increased funding to improve interoperability between public safety agencies at all levels of government to enhance communication and coordination during response.

Congress has also supported...

Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spur scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding and performing research and development and...

Internet Freedom in China: U.S. Government Activity, Private Sector Initiatives, and Issues of Congressional Interest

By the end of 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had the world’s largest number of internet users, estimated at over 750 million people. At the same time, the country has one of the most sophisticated and aggressive internet censorship and control regimes in the world. PRC officials have argued that internet controls are necessary for social stability, and intended to protect and strengthen Chinese culture. However, in its 2017 Annual Report, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF) called China the “world’s biggest prison for journalists” and warned that the...

Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy: CRS Experts

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cience, technology, and innovation (STI) play important roles in the nation’s economic and military strength, public health and safety, and the quality of our lives. Individuals, companies, governments, universities, and other organizations fund, conduct, disseminate, and acquire science and technology for a myriad of purposes. Among the purposes: providing for the national defense and homeland security; improving manufacturing processes and enabling the manufacture of new products; developing new materials; advancing computing and communications tools; preventing and treating disease,...

The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress

During the events of September 11, 2001 (9/11), first responders could not communicate with each other. Some radios did not work in the high-rise World Trade Center; radio channels were overloaded by the large number of responders trying to communicate; and public safety radio systems operated on various frequencies and were not interoperable. There were also non-technical issues. Officials struggled to coordinate the multi-agency response, and to maintain command and control of the numerous agencies and responders.

The 9/11 Commission called for the “expedited and increased assignment of...

Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs

The “digital divide” is a term that has been used to characterize a gap between “information haves and have-nots,” or in other words, between those Americans who use or have access to telecommunications and information technologies and those who do not. One important subset of the digital divide debate concerns high-speed internet access and advanced telecommunications services, also known as broadband. Broadband is provided by a series of technologies (e.g., cable, telephone wire, fiber, satellite, mobile and fixed wireless) that give users the ability to send and receive data at volumes...

Federal Lifeline Program: Frequently Asked Questions

The Federal Lifeline Program, established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1985, is one of four programs supported under the Universal Service Fund. The Program was originally designed to assist eligible low-income households to subsidize the monthly service charges incurred for voice telephone usage and was limited to one fixed line per household. In 2005 the Program was modified to cover the choice between either a fixed line or a mobile/wireless option. Concern over the division between those who use and have access to broadband versus those who do not, known as the...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2017 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bills include funding for more than two dozen independent agencies in addition to the larger entities in the bill (Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the District of Columbia, and the judiciary). Among these are Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration (GSA), National...

Sinclair Broadcast Group Acquisition of Tribune Media: Competitive and Regulatory Issues

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. announced that it agreed to acquire the Tribune Media Company for $6.6 billion, including $3.9 billion for Tribune’s stock, and the assumption of $2.7 billion of Tribune’s debt. The transaction, if approved by shareholders and the U.S. government, would make Sinclair the nation’s largest television broadcast company, giving it access to a far larger share of U.S. households than any other television broadcaster.

Both the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must approve Sinclair’s transactions before...

The Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program: Background, Funding, and Activities

In the early 1990s, Congress recognized that several federal agencies had ongoing high-performance computing programs, but no central coordinating body existed to ensure long-term coordination and planning. To provide such a framework, Congress passed the High-Performance Computing and Communications Program Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-194) to enhance the effectiveness of the various programs. In conjunction with the passage of the act, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released Grand Challenges: High-Performance Computing and Communications. That document outlined a...

Video Relay Service: Program Funding and Reform

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates a number of disability-related telecommunications services, including video relay service (VRS). VRS allows persons with hearing disabilities, using American Sign Language (ASL), to communicate with voice telephone users through video equipment rather than through typed text. VRS has quickly become a very popular service, as it offers several features not available with the text-based telecommunications relay service (TRS).

The FCC has adopted various rules to improve VRS service. Now VRS providers must answer 80% of all VRS calls...

U.S. Physical Infrastructure: CRS Experts

A nation’s physical infrastructure (for example, its transportation, water, energy, and communications systems and structures) serves as arteries for its economic and societal activity. The infrastructure of the United States was considered to be among the finest in the world, as post-World War II growth saw large amounts of investment in much of that infrastructure. Since all infrastructure structures and equipment have a finite useful life, some would say that functionality of U.S. infrastructure has declined over time.

Estimates of cost to meet the needs of the infrastructure sectors...

Municipal Broadband: Background and Policy Debate

Since the late 1990s, broadband Internet service has been deployed in the United States, primarily by private sector providers. While broadband deployment has been rapid and robust overall, there remain communities that are dissatisfied with their broadband service. Some of these communities have turned to public entities as possible broadband providers, with the expectation that municipal broadband networks (also referred to as “community broadband”) can deliver superior levels of speed, performance, and/or affordability than what is currently offered by private providers. Public entities...

The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress

Congress included provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) for planning, building, and managing a new, nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications, by creating the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The act allocated 10 MHz of additional radio frequency spectrum to accommodate the new network and required that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assign a license to FirstNet, comprising the newly designated frequencies plus 10 MHz previously assigned to states by the FCC for public safety use. In addition, the...

The FCC’s Rules and Policies Regarding Media Ownership, Attribution, and Ownership Diversity

From the earliest days of commercial radio, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its predecessor, the Federal Radio Commission, have encouraged diversity in broadcasting. This concern has repeatedly been supported by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has affirmed that “the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public,” and that “assuring that the public has access to a multiplicity of information sources is a governmental purpose of the highest order, for it promotes values central to the First...

Internet Governance and the Domain Name System: Issues for Congress

The Internet is often described as a “network of networks” because it is not a single physical entity, but hundreds of thousands of interconnected networks linking hundreds of millions of computers around the world. As such, the Internet is international, decentralized, and comprised of networks and infrastructure largely owned and operated by private sector entities. As the Internet grows and becomes more pervasive in all aspects of modern society, the question of how it should be governed becomes more pressing.

Currently, an important aspect of the Internet is governed by a private...

Framing Spectrum Policy: Legislative Initiatives

As innovation advances wireless communications from the business of providing mobile broadband to consumers into new businesses built around the Internet of Things, the need to revisit spectrum policy may gain in legislative importance. Many policy decisions since the 1990s that deal with spectrum assignment and allocation have focused on assuring the “highest and best use” for spectrum rights by assigning them through competitive auctions. To facilitate the transfer of federal spectrum to commercial wireless services, Congress, in 2004, created the Spectrum Relocation Fund to reimburse...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2016 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill funds more than two dozen independent agencies performing a wide range of functions, such as managing federal real property, regulating financial institutions, and delivering mail. These agencies include Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration...

The EMV Chip Card Transition: Background, Status, and Issues for Congress

Consumer financial card fraud due to data breaches of card information is an ongoing problem in the United States. The majority of breaches are carried out against point-of-sale (POS) systems, and are facilitated by what many consider to be the weak link in the U.S. retail sales payment process: the continued use of magnetic stripe cards (also referred to as stripe-and-signature cards). These cards are still what most U.S. consumers think of when referring to financial cards.

In much of the rest of the world, cards that provide a much higher level of security for conducting sales...

Promoting Global Internet Freedom: Government and Industry Initiatives

Modern communication tools such as the Internet provide a relatively inexpensive, accessible, easy-entry means of sharing ideas, information, and pictures around the world. In a political and human rights context, in closed societies when the more established, formal news media is denied access to or does not report on specified news events, the Internet has become an alternative source of media, and sometimes a means to organize politically.

The openness and the freedom of expression allowed through social networking sites, as well as the blogs, video sharing sites, and other tools of...

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA): Frequently Asked Questions

Federal agencies rely on information technology (IT) to conduct their work, requiring extensive investments in both updating existing IT and developing new IT. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the federal government budgets more than $80 billion each year for IT investment. In FY2017, that investment will be more than $89 billion. Unfortunately, these investments often incur “multi-million dollar cost overruns and years-long schedule delays,” may contribute little to mission-related outcomes, and in some cases fail altogether. The Federal Information Technology...

What’s on Television? The Intersection of Communications and Copyright Policies

In the 1940s and 1950s, watching television meant tuning into one of a few broadcast television stations, with the help of an antenna, to watch a program at a prescheduled time. Over subsequent decades, cable and satellite operators emerged to enable households unable to receive over-the-air signals to watch the retransmitted signals of broadcast television stations. More recently, some viewers have taken to watching TV programming on their computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other Internet-connected devices at times of their own choosing, dispensing with television stations and cable...

The Internet of Things: CRS Experts

“Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to networks of objects that communicate with other objects and with computers through the Internet. “Things” may include virtually any object for which remote communication, data collection, or control might be useful, such as meters, vehicles, appliances, medical devices, electric grids, transportation infrastructure, manufacturing equipment, or building systems. Although the full extent and nature of the IoT’s impacts remain uncertain, economic analyses predict that it will contribute trillions of dollars to economic growth over the next decade. Sectors...

Cybersecurity: CRS Experts

Concerns about information-system security and other aspects of cybersecurity are long-standing. The frequency, impact, and sophistication of cyberattacks and the growth of cybercrime and cyberespionage have added urgency to the concerns. Consensus has been growing that the policy framework for cybersecurity take into account the diversity and continuing evolution of the technology and threats—from spam to botnets to hacktivism, cyberterrorism, and cyberwar—and the increasing role of the Internet in the U.S. economy and the lives of citizens. Among the issues the 114th Congress is expected...

Spectrum Policy: Provisions in the 2012 Spectrum Act

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96, signed February 22, 2012) contains provisions in Title VI that expedite the availability of spectrum for commercial mobile broadband. The provisions in Title VI—also known as the Public Safety and Spectrum Act, or the Spectrum Act—cover reallocation of spectrum, new assignments of spectrum rights, and changes in procedures for repurposing spectrum used by the federal government. The act establishes a process for television broadcasters to release spectrum licensed to them for auction as commercial licenses (Broadcast...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2015 Appropriations

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44172 Summary The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. In its current form, it has existed since the 2007 reorganization of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. The House and Senate FSGG bills fund nearly the same agencies, with the exception of the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which is...

Policy Implications of the Internet of Things

This report briefly discusses the Internet of Things (IoT), which is an umbrella term that many policymakers use to refer to the technologies and network structures that interconnect objects, humans, and animals to collect and analyze data and manage processes.

Overview and Issues for Implementation of the Federal Cloud Computing Initiative: Implications for Federal Information Technology Reform Management

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42887 Summary Cloud computing is a new name for an old concept: the delivery of computing services from a remote location, analogous to the way electricity, water, and other utilities are provided to most customers. Cloud computing services are delivered through a network, usually the Internet. Some cloud services are adaptations of familiar applications, such as e-mail and word processing. Others are new applications that never existed as a local application, such as online maps and social networks. Since 2009, the federal government has...

Selected Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 114th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to a broadly discussed issue in Congress. Debates over how to implement coordinated homeland security policy led to the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has continued under the leadership of different Administrations, Congresses, and in a shifting...

Science and Technology Issues in the 114th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spur scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding research and development and indirectly by creating...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

This report tracks and describes actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2015 appropriations for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2014 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The annual CJS appropriations act provides funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the science agencies, and several related agencies. Appropriations for the Department of Commerce include funding for agencies such as the Census Bureau; the U.S. Patent and...

Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Overview of Major Issues, Current Laws, and Proposed Legislation

For more than a decade, various experts have expressed increasing concerns about cybersecurity, in light of the growing frequency, impact, and sophistication of attacks on information systems in the United States and abroad. Consensus has also been building that the current legislative framework for cybersecurity might need to be revised.

The complex federal role in cybersecurity involves both securing federal systems and assisting in protecting nonfederal systems. Under current law, all federal agencies have cybersecurity responsibilities relating to their own systems, and many have...

Mobile Technology and Spectrum Policy: Innovation and Competition

This report traces the current and possible future evolution of mobile communications networks and some of the changes in spectrum policy that might better accommodate innovation.

Spectrum Needs of Self-Driving Vehicles

This report discusses issues with the operation and implementation of communication systems for self-driving vehicles.

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2014 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2014 Appropriations

On March 26, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6). The act provides a total of $60.638 billion for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). After rescissions and sequestration, the act provided a total of $57.936 billion for CJS, of which $7.510 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $25.830 billion was for the Department of Justice, $23.769 billion was for the science agencies, and $827.9 million was for the related agencies.

On April 10, 2013, President Obama submitted his FY2014 budget to...

Data Security and Credit Card Thefts: CRS Experts

Thefts of credit-card and other customer information from major retailers in the fall of 2013 have renewed concerns about the security of credit cards and the information systems that hold, process, and transmit data from them, as well as other financial and personal information of consumers. The impacts and growing sophistication of such data breaches, along with the broader growth of cybercrime, has added urgency to long-standing concerns about the security of electronic data. The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on data security, cybercrime, privacy,...

Science and Technology Issues in the 113th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spurs scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement by directly funding research and development and indirectly by creating...

Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 113th Congress

With the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), many observers have made a fresh assessment of where America’s homeland security enterprise stands today. DHS is currently the third-largest department in the federal government, although it does not incorporate all of the homeland security functions at the federal level. The definition of homeland security remains unsettled, and questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of the department have been raised since it was first proposed. Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has...

Telecommunications and Media Convergence: Selected Issues for Consideration

The passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (P.L. 104-104) resulted in a major revision of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) to address the emergence of competition in what were previously considered to be monopolistic markets. Since its passage, however, the advancement of broadband technology to supply data, voice, and video; the growing convergence of the telecommunications and media sectors; and the growth in demand for usable radio-frequency spectrum has led to a consensus that the laws that govern these sectors have become inadequate to address this rapidly...

Financial Services and General Government: FY2013 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

On February 13, 2012, President Obama submitted his FY2013 budget to Congress. The Administration requests a total of $62.076 billion for the agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. The Administration’s request includes $7.978 billion for the Department of Commerce, $28.079 billion for the Department of Justice, $25.090 billion for the science agencies, and $929.2 million for the related agencies. The FY2013 request for CJS is 1.9% greater than the FY2012 appropriation of $60.910 billion.

On April 19,...

Department of Defense Implementation of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative: Implications for Federal Information Technology Reform Management

The Department of Defense (DOD) is the single largest energy consumer in the nation. As the largest owner of federal data centers, with 772, the DOD has more than twice as many centers as any other agency. By consolidating some of its data centers, DOD could have a significant positive impact on energy savings for the federal government. DOD has instituted a number of policy directives, as have all federal agencies, that influence energy use in its data centers.

Data centers are facilities—buildings or parts of buildings—used to store, manage, and disseminate electronic information for a...

China, Internet Freedom, and U.S. Policy

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has the world’s largest number of Internet users, estimated at 500 million people. Despite government efforts to limit the flow of online news, Chinese Internet users are able to access unprecedented amounts of information, and political activists have utilized the web as a vital communications tool. In recent years, Twitter-like microblogging has surged, resulting in dramatic cases of dissident communication and public comment on sensitive political issues. However, the web has proven to be less of a democratic catalyst in China than many observers had...

Financial Services and General Government: FY2012 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations

The United States has yet to find a solution that assures seamless communications among first responders and emergency personnel at the scene of a major disaster. Since September 11, 2001, when communications failures contributed to the tragedies of the day, Congress has passed several laws intended to create a nationwide emergency communications capability. The 111th Congress considered pivotal issues, such as radio frequency spectrum license allocation and funding programs for a Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN), without finding a solution that satisfied the expectations of both...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2012 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts.

On November 18, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55), which includes the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division B). The act includes $60.91 billion for CJS, of which $7.808 billion is for the Department of Commerce, $27.408 billion is for the Department of Justice, $24.838 billion is for the science...

Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 112th Congress

With the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, many observers are making a fresh assessment of where America’s homeland security enterprise stands today. In the wake of those attacks, Congress made extensive changes to the structure and function of many agencies, establishing a consolidated Department of Homeland Security and dedicating significant additional resources expressly to the security of the homeland. After the initial surge of activity, evolution of America’s response has continued under the leadership of different Administrations, Congresses, and in a...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2011 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). It also provides an overview of FY2010 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), included a total of $68.705 billion in new budget authority for CJS. Of the $68.705 billion appropriated for FY2010, $14.035 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $28.078 billion was for the Department of Justice, $25.658 billion was for the...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2011 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the Small Business Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, and the United States Postal Service.

The FSGG FY2010 appropriations were provided through P.L. 111-117, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010. P.L. 111-117 provided $46.265 billion for FSGG agencies in FY2010. In addition, P.L. 111-80...

Critical Infrastructure Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to critical infrastructure security. Policy areas identified include: mission, magnitude, importance, relationship to departmental mission; policy, organization, and operations across all infrastructures; information disclosure, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); security services, airport screeners, guards; specific sectors, assessing vulnerabilities, planning and implementation; agriculture; banking and finance; chemical; defense industry; emergency systems; energy;...

Research and Development (R&D) to Enhance Homeland Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to research and development (R&D) to enhance homeland security. Policy areas identified include: mission, scope, magnitude, relationship to other federal homeland security goals; developing countermeasures policy and strategic plan; access to scientific and technical information; establishing R&D policy and priorities; conducting and coordinating homeland security R&D; Department of Homeland Security; Department of Agriculture; Department of Defense; Department of Health and...

U.S. Initiatives to Promote Global Internet Freedom: Issues, Policy, and Technology

Modern means of communications, led by the Internet, provide a relatively inexpensive, open, easy-entry means of sharing ideas, information, pictures, and text around the world. In a political and human rights context, in closed societies when the more established, formal news media is denied access to or does not report on specified news events, the Internet has become an alternative source of media, and sometimes a means to organize politically.

The openness and the freedom of expression allowed through blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other tools of today’s...

America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5116) and the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69): Selected Policy Issues

This report provides background information on P.L. 110-69 and H.R. 5116, includes information about related legislative activity in the 111th Congress, and analyzes four policy issues addressed by these measures: (1) STEM Education, (2) Federal Research Programs and Activities, (3) Broadening Participation, and (4) Funding. It also discusses selected policy concerns identified in the debate about U.S. competitiveness and describes how the House-passed version of H.R. 5116 responds to those concerns. It contains a description of federal multi-agency research and development initiatives...

The National Broadband Plan

On March 16, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan. Mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5), the FCC’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) is a 360-page document composed of 17 chapters containing 208 specific recommendations directed to the FCC, to the Executive Branch (both to individual agencies and to Administration as a whole), to Congress, and to nonfederal and nongovernmental entities. The ARRA specified that the NBP should “seek to ensure that all people of the United States...

Emergency Communications: The Future of 911

This report discusses possible paths toward the modernization of the 911 infrastructure. Efforts to splice newer, digital technologies onto the aging infrastructure have created points of failure where a call can be dropped or misdirected, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2010 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On May 7, 2009, the Obama Administration delivered its FY2010 budget request to...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2009 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On September 30, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing...

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2009 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). On March 11, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). In the Omnibus, Congress appropriated $60.538 billion for CJS agencies. This amount was $4.578 billion more than the FY2008 enacted level (an 8.2% increase) and $3.488 billion more than the amended FY2009 request (a 6.1% increase). The Omnibus included $9.268 billion for the Department of Commerce, $26.120 billion for the Department of...

Emergency Preparedness and Hazard Mitigation: CRS Experts

This report includes a table that provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to emergency preparedness and hazard mitigation. Includes a number of policy areas, such as: emergency preparedness and protection missions, functions, and structures; emergency authorities; preparedness plans; communications networks; warning systems; and state and local homeland security funding, training, and standards.

Infrastructure Programs: What's Different About Broadband?

This report discusses the unique characteristics that may dictate that government programs in support of broadband deployment be structured differently than conventional infrastructure programs.

The Executive Office of the President: An Historical Overview

Communications Act Revisions: Selected Issues for Consideration

The passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (P.L. 104-104) resulted in a major revision of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) to address the emergence of competition in what were previously considered to be monopolistic markets. Although less than a decade has passed, a consensus has grown that existing laws that govern the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors have become inadequate to meet the Nation’s changing telecommunications environment. Technological changes such as the advancement of Internet technology to supply data, voice, and video, the transition...

Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Access Cable Television Channels: Issues for Congress

This report discusses public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access channels that are set aside for use by the general public, by local schools, colleges, and universities, and by elements of local government.

The FCC’s Broadcast Media Ownership Rules

Phantom Traffic" -- Problems Billing for the Termination of Telephone Calls: Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of "phantom traffic" -- i.e., telephone calls for which a carrier is unable to obtain appropriate compensation. The report discusses the causes of phantom traffic, phantom traffic and rural companies, issues, and related proposals.

Broadband over Powerlines: Regulatory and Policy Issues

Congress has expressed significant interest in increasing the availability of broadband services throughout the nation. Broadband over powerlines (BPL) has the potential to play a significant role in increasing the competitive landscape of the communications industry as well as extend the reach of broadband to a greater number of Americans. BPL, like any technology, has its advantages and disadvantages. Proponents state that BPL is less expensive to deploy than the cable and telephone companies’ broadband offerings; it does not require upgrades to the actual electric grid; and, it is not...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2008 Appropriations

FY2008 appropriations for Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) agencies were originally proposed in H.R. 2829. The bill included funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 20 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On June 28, 2007, the House approved $43.8 billion for H.R. 2829, a...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2008 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 110th Congress for the FY2008 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161), Congress has provided $54.637 billion in CJS appropriations, a 3.4% increase over the FY2007 enacted level and a 2.2% increase over the Administration’s request. This amount includes $6.857 billion for the Department of Commerce (a 3.5% increase over the FY2007 enacted level), $23.592 billion for the Department of Justice (a 1.6% increase), $23.38 billion for science agencies (a 5.3%...

FCC Media Ownership Rules: Current Status and Issues for Congress

Telecommunications Act: Competition, Innovation, and Reform

In 1996, Congress enacted comprehensive reform of the nation’s statutory and regulatory framework for telecommunications by passing the Telecommunications Act, which substantially amended the 1934 Communications Act. The general objective of the 1996 Act was to open up markets to competition by removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to entry. At that time, the industry was characterized by service-specific networks that did not compete with one another: circuit-switched networks provided telephone service and coaxial cable networks provided cable service. The act created distinct...

Access to Broadband Networks

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2007 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2007 appropriations bill. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress.

On September 29, 2006, Congress passed the Defense Department Appropriation...

H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (January 9, 2007) and Senate (March 13, 2007) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process and as the analyses began. Titles unique to S. 4 follow...

9/11 Commission Recommendations: Implementation Status

This report provides a review of the 9/11 Commission recommendations and the status of their implementation at the end of the 109th Congress. The discussions herein are organized on the basis of policy themes that are at the core of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, rather than through a review of each numbered item set out in the Commission’s final report. The analysis was produced by a large team of CRS Specialists, analysts, and attorneys who are responsible for the wide variety of policy areas covered by the 9/11 Commission in its work. The authors of the varied segments of this...

The FCC's "a la Carte" Reports

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released two reports on a la carte pricing of cable television networks that reach contradictory conclusions. The purpose of this report is to explain how these two reports reached differing conclusions and to analyze the different assumptions and calculations used in each.

High Performance Computers and Export Control Policy: Issues for Congress

Congress has a strong interest in export control policy with regard to technologies that may have both commercial and military applications outside of the United States. Through its constitutionally delegated authority to regulate foreign commerce, Congress has the authority to control exports for national security or foreign policy purposes. This report examines congressional interest in the exportation of High Performance Computers, which are either single computing machines (usually called supercomputers) or a cluster of easily available, high-end workstations or personal computers.

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2006 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2006 appropriations legislation. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress. In the 108th Congress, both the House and Senate subcommittees had...

Missile Defense: The Current Debate

The United States has pursued missile defenses since the dawn of the missile age shortly after World War II. The development and deployment of missile defenses has not only been elusive, but has been one of the most divisive issues of the past generation until recent years. The Bush Administration substantially altered the debate over missile defenses. The Administration requested significant funding increases for missile defense programs, eliminated the distinction between national and theater missile defense, restructured the missile defense program to focus more directly on developing...

Appropriations for FY2005: Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

This report monitors actions taken by the 108th Congress on FY2005 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the judiciary and related agencies (often referred to as the CJS appropriations). The Administration requested $43.216 billion for CJS appropriations in its FY2005 budget request sent to Congress on February 2, 2004. In the spring of 2004, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings on these requests. The House Appropriations Committee reported out its unnumbered bill on June 23, 2004, recommending a total of $43.483 billion for CJS in...

Science and Technology Policy: Issues for the 108th Congress, 2nd Session

Satellite Television and "Digital White Areas": Provisions of the 2004 Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act

In November 2004, Congress passed the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA), which extends and expands upon earlier Acts that regulate the satellite television (TV) industry. One of the most contentious issues was whether to allow satellite TV companies to retransmit broadcast network digital TV signals to their subscribers who cannot receive digital TV from their local network broadcast stations -- that is, they live in “digital white areas.” SHVERA provides limited authority for satellite companies to offer “distant digital signals” if certain conditions are...

H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (October 8, 2004) and Senate (October 6, 2004) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill, because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process to date. For purposes of clarity, we refer to the House-passed bill as...

911 Call Center Legislation: S. 1250 and H.R. 2898

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2004 and FY2005: State Department and Foreign Assistance

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to...

"Junk E-mail": An Overview of Issues and Legislation Concerning Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail ("Spam")

Unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE), also called “spam” or “junk e-mail,” aggravates many computer users. Not only can spam be a nuisance, but its cost may be passed on to consumers through higher charges from Internet service providers who must upgrade their systems to handle the traffic. Proponents of spam insist it is a legitimate marketing technique and protected by the First Amendment. While 27 states have anti-spam laws, there is no federal law. Four bills are pending in the 108th Congress: H.R. 1933, S. 563, S. 877, and S. 1052. (Spam on wireless devices such as cell phones is...

The Internet and the USA PATRIOT Act: Potential Implications for Electronic Privacy, Security, Commerce, and Government

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks prompted congressional action on many fronts, including passage of the United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act, P.L. 107-56 . The Act is broadly scoped, and some of its provisions may affect Internet usage, computer security, and critical infrastructure protection. In the area of computer security, the Act creates a definition of "computer trespasser" and makes such activities a terrorist act in certain circumstances. The Act enables law enforcement officials...

Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation

Internet privacy issues encompass concerns about the collection of personally identifiable information from visitors to Web sites, as well as debate over law enforcement or employer monitoring of electronic mail and Web usage. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, debate over the issue of law enforcement monitoring has intensified, with some advocating increased tools for law enforcement to track down terrorists, and others cautioning that fundamental tenets of democracy, such as privacy, not be endangered in that pursuit. This report provides a brief overview of Internet...

Federal Government Information Technology Policy: Selected Issues

Federal government information technology (IT) is an important part of the federal mission to serve Americans. Federal government IT policy can improve how services and information are provided to citizens, increase the timeliness and quality of federal agencies' responses, and save federal tax dollars by improving government efficiency. Protection and security of individuals' privacy, as well as making appropriate federal data more transparent and available for its citizens, are the ultimate goals of federal agency IT policies. But there are some questions and concerns regarding federal...

Technology, Trade, and Security Issues Between the United States and the People's Republic of China: A Trip Report, August 1997

From August 12th through August 20th, 1997, a congressional staff delegation visited the People's Republic of China. This report provides the research findings of this group, which was sponsored by the U.S.-Asia Institute, and was the 37th such trip undertaken since 1979 to increase the understanding between the two nations. The U.S. group was comprised of seven congressional staff from the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the Congressional Research Service. The delegation met with Chinese industry and business leaders in Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. The group...

International Science and Technology Issues: Summary of a Report to the Committee on Science

The 1990s have been a time of great vitality and change for U.S. science and technology (S&T) policy and research and development (R&D) programs. As a result, many Members of Congress have asked what might be done to set national S&T priorities more efficiently, establish policies, and fund or otherwise support R&D programs that best enhance U.S. resources?

The answers may be found, in part, by understanding other nations' S&T policies and R&D programs within the context of U.S. policy and programs. For many, U.S. S&T policy (and the R&D programs supported by the policy) is perhaps...