Technology Legislation: 2008 Bills and Their Potential IT Impact

Measures target security, privacy, broadband availability and other technology issues.

by / December 14, 2008 0

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

to specify on the home page information about how to contact the agency and request records.

Possible Impact: This would mandate changes to legions of public-sector home pages, to say the least.

Where It Is Now: This act was vetoed in October 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.


SB 1788

Level: State - Texas

Introduced: March 21, 2007

What It Means: This act would require the creation and operation of a state virtual school network to educate students electronically.

Possible Impact: The bill should spur more e-learning opportunities and the technological upgrades that should come along in order to facilitate them.

Where It Is Now: Gov. Rick Perry signed this into law in June 2007.


SB 1822

Level: State - Texas

Introduced: March 22, 2007

What It Means: This act would prohibit a tax professional from disclosing certain personal information about the owner of a property on a tax appraisal if the owner chooses to prohibit that.

Possible Impact: This would mandate the state to uphold stricter privacy standards relating to online content when it comes to financial information.

Where It Is Now: This bill hasn't moved past the introduction phase yet but has been referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs.


AB 2555

Level: State - New York

Introduced: Jan. 17, 2007

What It Means: This would require the state's Office for Technology to make the necessary technology modifications to allow some information on the state Web site to be accessible from a PDA.

Possible Impact: The state's Web page would get a boost in terms of accessibility.

Where It Is Now: This was referred to the Committee on Governmental Operations in January 2008.


AB 4157

Level: State - New York

Introduced: Jan. 31, 2007

What It Means: This would require that every state agency provide free Internet access to public records.

Possible Impact: State agencies would have to work with the secretary of state to make this a reality. They would have to give the secretary a list of all documents made available through these means.

Where It Is Now: This was referred to the Committee on Governmental Operations in January 2008. In March 2008, the committee was holding it for consideration.

Hilton Collins

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.