January 29, 2013
Vol. XX, Issue XX
ACM Washington Update


CONTENTS:

 

NEWSLETTER HIGHLIGHTS

Contrary to press reports, there are other things going on in Washington besides the budget negotiations. There are more details on each item below, as well as on our weblog.

  • Judea Pearl wins A.M Turing Award for his work in AI.

  • USACM joined with other numerous other organizations on a letter urging the Senate to to resist deep cuts to science agency budgets approved recently by the House of Representatives.

  • USACM submitted comments in response to FTC's preliminary staff report concerning online privacy. The report outlines a proposed privacy framework.

  • USACM signed on to a statement developed by the Center for Democracy and Technology in response to possible changes to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

  • The Senate passed a bill intended to reform the patent system.

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    2011 ACM A.M. TURING AWARD RECOGNIZES JUDEA PEARL

    Judea Pearl created the representational and computational foundation for the processing of information under uncertainty.

    He is credited with the invention of Bayesian networks, a mathematical formalism for defining complex probability models, as well as the principal algorithms used for inference in these models. This work not only revolutionized the field of artificial intelligence but also became an important tool for many other branches of engineering and the natural sciences. He later created a mathematical framework for causal inference that has had significant impact in the social sciences.

    Judea Pearl was born on September 4, 1936, in Tel Aviv, which was at that time administered under the British Mandate for Palestine. He grew up in Bnei Brak, a Biblical town his grandfather went to reestablish in 1924. In 1956, after serving in the Israeli army and joining a Kibbutz, Judea decided to study engineering. He attended the Technion, where he met his wife, Ruth, and received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1960. Recalling the Technion faculty members in a 2012 interview in the Technion Magazine, he emphasized the thrill of discovery:

    Read more about Dr. Pearl's work.

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    USACM SUPPORTS DEFENSE AGAINST FY '11 CUTS

    USACM signed a letter sent to the Senate leadership early in March urging them to resist the deep cuts to science agency budgets approved by the House of Representatives. The cuts would be for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The letter was organized by the Task Force on American Innovation; over 170 organizations have signed on.

    The basic argument of the letter was to encourage the continued doubling path for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Office of Science at the Department of Energy. Echoing language from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the letter indicates that even in a time of cuts and savings there is still a need for investment in education, infrastructure, and research and development, especially to help support needed economic growth. The proposed cuts work counter to that need for investment.

    The final resolution of this budget debate may be soon, or another temporary measure may have to be passed. The current continuing resolution that funds the government is scheduled to expire on March 18.

    The full letter can be read online.

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    USACM COMMENTS ON FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION ONLINE PRIVACY REPORT

    On February 18th, USACM submitted comments in response to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) preliminary staff report concerning online privacy. Titled "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change," the report outlines a proposed privacy framework involving the following general principles:

  • Companies should integrate privacy into their regular business operations (a Privacy by Design approach)

  • Companies should increase the transparency all of their data practices, including those in the parts of their business that don't engage with consumers directly
  • The FTC also sought comment on the development and use of a Do Not Track policy comparable to the Do Not Call list to reduce telemarketing calls. USACM encouraged the FTC in its comments to define Do Not Track in a way that was technology neutral. It is also important to have a Do Not Track system that allows for a variety of consumer choices. There must be some options between track everything and track nothing so that consumers can really craft a personalized Internet experience that reflects their preferences. Additionally, USACM repeated its arguments for a dataflow-based lexicon and enhanced privacy risk models to help ensure consumer privacy online.

    The full report and ACM's comments can be read online.


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    The ACM Washington Update is produced by ACM's Office of Public Policy in Washington DC. ACM engages in public policy through the US Public Policy Council of the Association for Computing Machinery (USACM) and its Education Policy Committee (EPC).

    About USACM -- The U.S. Public Policy Council of ACM (USACM) is the focal point for ACM's interaction with U.S. government organizations, the computing community, and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology.

    About EPC -- The Education Policy Committee engages policymakers and the public on public policy issues in science and math education that relate to computing and computer science. It focuses on initiatives to ensure that computer science education is identified as a critical component of education policy in the U.S. at both federal and state levels.

    Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to acmpo@hq.acm.org.



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