GT December 2008 Cover December 2008 Government Technology Cover

With 2008 drawing to a close, we decided to look back at some recent tech-centric federal and state legislation that came about. Here's a collection of bills, some in progress, some that are already law and some that never made it, and how they might affect public sector IT -- or might have had they had the chance.

H.R. 5442

Technologies for Restoring Users' Security and Trust (TRUST) in Health Information Act of 2008

Level: Federal

Introduced: Feb. 14, 2008

What It Means: This bill would enhance the security and privacy protection of citizen health information and allow citizens greater access to and control over it. And if any of this information is breached, the citizen in question must be notified. The bill also requires the secretary of Health and Human Services to create a health information privacy office within the Department of Health and Human Services and also disseminate guidelines on how the security standards should be upheld.

Possible Impact: States, counties and other health-records-holding entities will likely have to adhere to additional standards in order to meet compliance.

Where It Is Now: This bill hasn't moved much past the introductory phase. It was last referred to the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions in April 2008.

S. 1492

Broadband Data Improvement Act

Level: Federal

Introduced: May 24, 2007

What It Means: This would improve the quality and availability of broadband services across the nation. It would require the FCC to revise definitions of advanced telecommunications capability and establish definition of broadband types. The FCC would also have to identify areas of the country that don't have advanced telecommunications capability.

Possible Impact: The bill would foster grants that would support statewide initiatives to track and implement broadband capabilities.

Where It Is Now: This bill was passed in the Senate and the House in September 2008 and was presented to the president in October.

H.R. 964

Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (Spy Act)

Level: Federal

Introduced: Feb. 8, 2007

What It Means: This would establish official, more stringent anti-spyware legislation at the federal level. It would be against the law to perform functions that facilitate the spread of malicious code against protected computers in use by a financial institution, the U.S. government, or computers used in interstate or foreign commerce communication.

Possible Impact: Although there have been anti-cyber-terrorism bills in the past, this one would officially clamp down on spyware use, and possibly be the federal watershed that incites government agencies to do more to protect themselves from malicious attacks.

Where It Is Now: The House of Representatives passed this in June 2007 and it's currently waiting for a Senate vote.

ACR 157

Information and Communications Technologies Digital Literacy

Level: State - California

Introduced: Aug. 12, 2008

What It Means: This measure asks the governor to create the California Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Digital Literacy Leadership Council. The council would be tasked with spreading digital literacy within California to help the state become more competitive in the global economy.

Possible Impact: This would establish a goal for the state to make more citizens digitally proficient in the Information Age and spur officials to think of ways to make this happen.

Where It Is Now: This measure was only recently introduced and further action is pending.

AB 1393

California Public Records Act

Level: State - California

Introduced: Feb. 23, 2007

What It Means: This would require state and local agencies to make their records available for public inspection. As of July 1, 2009, state agencies with Web sites would have

Hilton Collins, Staff Writer Hilton Collins  |  GT Staff Writer

By day, Hilton Collins is a staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines who covers sustainability, cybersecurity and disaster management issues. By night, he’s a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, and if he had to choose between comic books, movies, TV shows and novels, he’d have a brain aneurysm. He can be reached at hcollins@govtech.com and on @hiltoncollins on Twitter.