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July 29, 2013

ALEC to Consider Cybersecurity Principles, NAAG Opposition, at Chicago Meeting

IPI expert referenced: Bartlett Cleland | In The News | Media Hit
  Communications Daily

By John Hendel

The American Legislative Exchange Council will look at draft model legislation restricting warrantless cellphone tracking, following similar laws enacted in Maine and Montana (CD July 15 p7), at ALEC's annual meeting in Chicago Aug. 7-9. The 40-year-old organization, which brings together state legislators and industry, will also consider revising past model legislation, propose a draft resolution objecting to certain potential Communications Decency Act (CDA) amendments and a statement of principles for cybersecurity. The group has attracted fierce criticism from such groups as Free Press (CD April 9 p11), but it remains committed to transparent policy discussions, its task force leaders told us.

ALEC counts many victories over the last several months. Legislation similar to its wireless facilities streamlining model was enacted in Washington state, North Carolina and Missouri this year. Several states also restricted state regulation of VoIP, as ALEC advocated for, bringing the total number of such jurisdictions up to 29, said John Stephenson, the group's Communications and Technology Task Force director. "This is a huge success because ideas that we put together are becoming law," he said. North Dakota is also "taking that up as we prepare for our next session," with plans to look at VoIP restrictions following a move to study the topic recently, said Task Force Public Chairman Blair Thoreson, a North Dakota Republican state representative. Stephenson noted there have been conversations about IP interconnection but that there are "many different views" of it among his members. More direct ALEC action may be possible "as we get deeper into the weeds on the IP transition," he said.

"We always need to build flexibility into the system," said Task Force Private Chairman Bartlett Cleland, who works full-time as policy counsel for the Institute for Policy Innovation. State legislators operate "right at ground zero" and "wireless is broadband these days," he said, noting the difficulties of burying cable in a state as rural as North Dakota.

..."From the private sector, one thing we enjoy is a round of 'future think,'" Cleland said, cautioning against focusing on the "tyranny of the immediate." He reflected back to where communications were a decade ago, when wireless was growing but people typically lacked smartphones. Such forward-thinking discussion is helpful, Cleland said, referring to conversations from a couple years ago: "We all saw something like the current privacy challenges coming." Thoreson and Cleland pointed to education and telemedicine as other potential focus areas. Cleland described medical situations involving doctors consulting over Skype in which "they have no way to bill for that," he said. "We grew up in a world where face to face was the only option."

To read the full article, please visit Communications Daily online.


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