Internet: An Overview of Key Technology Policy Issues Affecting Its Use and Growth [Updated December 29, 2004]   [open pdf - 185KB]

"The growth of the Internet may be affected by a number of issues being debated by Congress. This report summarizes the following technology policy issues; internet privacy issues encompass concerns about information collected by website operators and by 'spyware,' and about the extent to which law enforcement officials are allowed to monitor an individual's Internet activities. Congress has passed several laws already, but continues to debate what other legislation may be needed, computer and Internet security in both the government and private sectors. Issues have also been raised about the vulnerability of the nation's critical infrastructures (e.g. electrical power supply) to cyber attacks. Issues for Congress include oversight and improvement of the protection of federal computer systems and cooperation with and between the private sectors, Broadband Internet access gives users the ability to send and receive data at speeds far greater than current Internet access over traditional telephone lines. With deployment of broadband technologies beginning to accelerate, Congress is seeking to ensure fair competition and timely broadband deployment to all sectors and geographical locations of American society, electronic commerce (e-commerce) -- have grown substantially. Among the issues facing Congress are encryption procedures to protect e-commerce transactions, extension of the three-year tax moratorium on domestic e-commerce taxation, the impact of the USA PATRIOT Act, and how the policies of the European Union and the World Trade Organization (WTO) may affect U.S. e-commerce activities, anti-spam law, the CAN-SPAM Act, permits, but does not require, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create a 'do not e-mail' list similar to the National Do Not Call list for telemarketers. Whether to require the FTC to establish such a list, and the extent to which the new law will actually reduce the amount of spam, remain congressional issues in the wake of the law's enactment, internet's domain name system (DNS) is currently under transition from federal to private sector control. Congress is monitoring how the Department of Commerce is managing and overseeing this transition in order to ensure competition and promote fairness among all Internet constituencies, the evolving role of the Internet in the political economy of the United States continues to attract congressional attention. Among the issues are information technology research and development, the provision of online services by the government ('e-government'), and availability and use of 'open source' software."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, 98-67
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