Appendix F: Policy Issues and Questions
CIC's fundamental strategic objective is to develop the underlying information technology base to achieve the
overarching NSTC goals for the nation. Achieving these goals will require successful science and technology
development and implementation. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that total success in harnessing
information technologies is intimately coupled with progress in other policy spheres, most notably in domestic and
international standards development, in legislative initiatives to create a flexible and modernized regulatory
framework, and in resolving difficult technology-based public policy issues such as provision of security and
privacy that is "law enforcement friendly," and protection of intellectual property rights.
CIC's unique role in developing the science and technology base for future information and communications
systems and services requires that the committee play a key role in identifying and resolving relevant policy and
regulatory issues. To this end, CIC will work closely with the IITF and other key government agencies including
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Office of Science and
The following sections describe key policy issues which CIC will help to address in concert with other government
F.1 Financial, Regulatory and Legal Barriers
- Regional test beds will be essential to demonstrate technology advances and capabilities in a manner that
stimulates capital formation in the private sector for implementation and deployment of next generation systems and
services. Financial and/or political incentives should be developed to encourage local and regional test beds and
infrastructure projects. Federally sponsored technology programs with industry and academia should be structured
to perform such testbed demonstrations wherever feasible.
- Public telecommunications and open networks must be reliable. The right mix of technology, standards, and
regulatory policy must be developed to ensure that networks are highly reliable, particularly as the entire fabric of
society becomes increasingly dependent on the information infrastructure for essential services on a daily basis.
- There are many components to the challenge of maintaining American competitiveness in global information and
communications markets. Government policies should foster appropriate pre-competitive alliances with and among
stakeholders in industry to ensure that America maintains its competitive advantages. CIC will encourage
technology R&D partnerships and alliances in the programs of its member agencies where appropriate.
- Current communications infrastructures are a collection of regulated and unregulated systems that prevent
seamless end-to-end use by the consumer. A regulatory framework must be built to promote interconnectivity,
interoperability, and open access.
- Universal service is a central objective in the NII vision. Technical and regulatory solutions must be developed to
provide low cost universal access to NII services.
- The research community must explore approaches to utilize high-capacity networking and high performance
computing on a long term basis at affordable costs. For example, regulatory provisions could make it possible for
"dark fiber" to be utilized at low cost by the research community?
- Lowering the cost of capital for industry R&D will help to leverage government R&D investments. Issues to be
addressed include: Are the current software capitalization rules of the financial accounting board appropriate to
stimulating R&D on software? Can the current investment tax credit be made permanent to provide industry with
confidence that current incentives will remain in place? Does the proposed FASB treatment of stock options
increase the cost of capital for R&D and if so, what position should the government take regarding this issue?
- Current regulation of professional services (such as medicine) within each of the states inhibit collaborative,
interstate activities and may slow the development of the national information infrastructure. Federal leadership is
necessary to break these regulatory barriers.
F.2 Standards and Mandates
- Government standards and mandates can significantly influence the drive towards interoperability. The U.S.
government R&D community, together with regulatory agencies, should determine if it would be beneficial to
mandate specific development languages or standards in light of rapidly changing commercial technology. There
are complex pros and cons to this issue and they must be carefully considered. Similarly, the government
acquisition community should consider whether changes in procurement policy would stimulate the development of
new technologies and the exploitation of existing Government funded activities in the commercial domain?
- Interoperability in terms of "information appliance" interfaces and applications level interoperability is a
challenging goal for the NII. Such interoperability may require interface standards to be developed for common
application areas that are capable of scaling to a global information infrastructure. Defining the appropriate
government role for encouraging interoperability through coordination and cooperation of industry-led open
standards activities is an important issue. The extent to which definitive public policy should be crafted in pursuit
of this goal is a complex decision process in which the R&D community must participate. An example might be
consideration of a public policy goal encouraging a common, universal information network addressing scheme.
- One of the goals for the NII is provide universal service without cross-subsidization. This is a difficult economic
challenge, but one where technology may offer some assistance. The R&D community should investigate potential
technological solutions to this dilemma, which might also be helpful in simplifying the current intricate tariff
structures that govern how telecommunications carriers derive revenue for services provided.
F.3 Security and Privacy
- Development of security and privacy capabilities is an integral part of the NII vision. To date, an adequate
solution that provides security and privacy features that the user trusts implicitly have not yet been reconciled with
the need for features that are "law enforcement friendly." Technology may yet offer an acceptable solution that
simultaneously satisfies the NII user as well as the legitimate needs of law enforcement and national security.
- Another security component of the desired NII architecture is reliability, particularly from hostile or even
capricious attacks on databases, computing systems, and networks. Technology must be developed to ensure that
the integrity of the network, including its data repositories, is immune from destructive or malicious acts.
F.4 Intellectual Property
- Intellectual property rights must be guaranteed if the NII is to flourish. National and international technical
mechanisms must be sought to address criminal activities such as software piracy and theft of intellectual property.
F.5 International Cooperation/Exchange
- The U.S. must encourage the development of early demonstration systems and test beds with other nations in
order to promote international cooperation and technical exchanges.
- The U.S. and other nations must cooperate to develop interoperable mechanisms for securely exchanging
information and data in order to facilitate international commerce.
- In order to avoid creation of "data havens," international cooperation is needed to allow open access for cross
country data flows and to provide equal data access across national boundaries.
F.6 International Policy Issues for the GII