Computing Technology Policy

Last updated: May 2009.

Original material on this website is copyright © 1999-2009 by Robert A. Ellis.  Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or educational use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page.  To otherwise copy, republish, post on servers or redistribute in any manner requires specific prior permission.

As the general public’s use of digital technology (computing, recording (CD, DVD, etc.) and data transmission (Internet, HDTV, etc.) has dramatically increased, governments at all levels have been rapidly passing new laws and the courts have been busily interpreting these and existing laws.  Many of these new and existing laws directly impact what you can and cannot do with this new technology, even for your personal use.  This presentation explores the impacts and what you can do to influence the developing public policy in digital technology.

A shortened version of the presentation was given at the May 9, 2009 meeting of the Prescott (AZ) Computer Society.

Broadband Internet and Common Carrier Service

The availability and adoption of broadband (high speed) Internet service is of critical importance to the computing and telecommunications industries and the country. Graphically intensive applications such as remote medical diagnosis, enhanced e-commerce, personal data exchanges (e.g., sharing family photos and videos), delivery of entertainment and gaming and augmented user interfaces (e.g., a, possibly 3D, graphical view of where the user is in a web structure would address the “lost in cyberspace” problem) are highly dependent on the widespread deployment of broadband. In addition, broadband shows great promise for inexpensive yet powerful distributed computation utilizing widely geographically separated computers.

I believe the best way to provide widespread broadband Internet services is by meaningful competition. At the same time the interests of the public using this essential form of communication must be served. One possible mechanism to provide both competition and serve the public interest is to classify Internet services as common carrier services.

I've drafted a  white paper that explores this idea.

Computing Technology Bibliography (Citations only through July 2007)

Click on a link below to go to the bibliography for that category.  For more information on this website and the taxonomy see General Information below.

Digital Copy Protection - Digital Rights Management
E - Commerce E - Voting
Free Speech General
Intellectual Property
Internet Miscellaneous
Product Liability
Research Support Science Policy
TV Computing Convergence
USACM - Information and Washington Update

General Information

The bibliography covers the popular press and computing magazines, but not research or scholarly publications.  The ACM Digital Library is the best source for the latter.  The articles cited cover not only policy issues but also topics that have associated policy issues as background. 

Why provide this bibliography when a more complete and less idiosyncratic search could be done with a search engine such as Google?  Using this bibliography has several advantages: categorization into a taxonomy that groups like articles together, a chronological presentation and a selective number of hits.  Entries in this bibliography could then be used to generate a more complete search with a search engine.

The bibliography is divided into several categories (see below), each a separate page.  The format for each category page is a directory:

Directory: Science Policy



followed by the citation entries themselves:

==========> 02-06-14-WashPost-MITPreservesOpeness.txt==========

MIT Seeks to Preserve Openness Amid Security Measures
By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 14, 2002; Page A06

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has become the first major
academic research institution to outline a policy designed to
protect intellectual openness on campus amid growing pressure to

==========> 02-08-07-Wired-CongressReassessesOTA.txt==========,1283,54373,00.html

Congress Reassesses Tech Office
By Dan Mitchell
2:00 a.m. Aug. 7, 2002 PDT

WASHINGTON -- When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republicans cut
off funding for the Office of Technology Assessment in 1995, the move seemed
capricious to scientists who felt the office did nothing less than help
legislators make informed decisions.

It would be convenient if the directory entries were links to each citation entry, but to save space and download times, the actual bibliography pages are plain text with no formatting or other information in them.  The user can of course paste directory entries into their browser search function and move to citation entries that way.  Perhaps in the future the pages will be HTML formatted and include features such as internal links.

Directory entries consist of a date (yy-mm-dd) followed by the name of the publication where the article appeared and a title.  The title is not necessarily the title of the article but one chosen by me to be concise and descriptive.

The bibliographic entry starts with the directory entry, usually the URL, citation information and the first 2-3 lines of the article.  Due to copyright restrictions we cannot provide the full text of cited articles.

The current bibliography contains approximately 12,000 citations in 22 categories.  There are not 12,000 unique citations because some have been assigned to more than one category.  The category with the most citations is Intellectual Property with slightly more than 17% of the total.  The next most citations appear in the Security category with almost 14%.  Privacy and Telecom each have slightly more the 10% of the citations and Internet slightly less than 10%.  The rest are all well within single digit percentages.

The taxonomy:


There are two kinds of access covered: access to government and access by users with various impairments. 


This category covers all aspects of cryptography from the development of new techniques through the deployment and use of cryptography to policy issues.

Digital Copy Protection - Digital Rights Management

Covered are all issues related to digital rights management in general and information about specific technologies.


In addition to the obvious issues, this category covers sales tax and the developing pay music sites.  It also covers UCITA although there hasn't been much activity lately on this issue.


All aspects of electronic voting are represented in this category.


Coverage of the emerging widespread problem of using computers (primarily via the Internet) to commit fraudulent acts such as phishing for personal and private data.

Free Speech

Free speech issue as related to computing are covered here.


There has to be one of these.  Here are covered issues that relate to several categories of computing technology policy.  For example, you will find the outline for for Barbara Simons' Stanford course " Information Technology in Society: Legal and Policy Perspectives".

Intellectual Property

This category is self explanatory.  But unlike many other technology policy taxonomies you will find that topics such as digital rights management, UCITA, etc., have their own categories.


All aspects of the Internet are covered, ranging from governance to development of new technology.


There has to be one of these also to cover topics not in any of the existing categories.  There are only a handful of citations here.


All aspects of the impact of computing technology on privacy are covered.

Product Liability

Covers all aspects of  the growing concern over manufacturers liability for errors in their products, primarily software.

Research Support

This category covers articles about computing research support policy both government and industrial.  It is not a source of research information or the availability of specific research programs and funding.

Science Policy

This category covers articles about science policy as it applies to computing.


Topics from protection of critical computing infrastructure to viruses are covered.


Covered are all aspects of spam from technological anti-spam techniques to legislation.


Covers all aspects of the problem of snooping programs that are installed on a user's computer, usually without the users knowledge or explicit permission.


This bibliography is probably unique because it covers the dull, boring topic of regulatory issues, particularly as it relates to telecommunications and specifically, broadband Internet access.  New technological developments are also covered.

TV Computing Convergence

Of particular interest to computer graphics researchers and practitioners, this category covers HDTV developments and legislation plus topics such as using the Internet to provide television.

USACM - Information and Washington Update

Covers USACM activities and the Washington Update email newsletter.


Includes lists of websites that are useful for technology policy issues.