Last week, TLPC student attorneys Mel Jensen and Alex Koral filed an initial petition with the Copyright Office seeking to renew an exemption for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled to read ebooks on equal terms by circumventing technological protection measures (TPMs) on ebooks that interfere with adaptive technologies, such as text-to-speech functions and refreshable Braille displays. The TLPC filed the petition in partnership with the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Council of the Blind as part of the U.S. Copyright Office’s triennial review of exemptions from the anti-circumvention measures in section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
This comment explains why user-testing requirements for accessibility are necessary for usable advanced communications services or products. Written in conjunction with Professor Clayton Lewis of CU-Boulder’s Coleman Institute, the TLPC’s comment explains why user-testing best serves the purposes of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The comment additionally explains how the Act applies to people with cognitive disabilities and, moreover, analyzes how the Act may be defined to the full extent that Congress intended. This interpretation ensures that people with disabilities have full access to advanced communications technologies. The comment proposes a complaint-based enforcement process that will help implement reasonable user-testing requirements for accessibility.
User-Testing Requirements for Accessibility in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
This comment raises concerns about an individual’s digital fingerprint as revealed by browser add-ons. Add-ons are pieces of software that enhance the capabilities of a larger software application, such as a web browser. When an individual visits a website, most websites ask the computer for the browser’s installed add-ons, and other information about a user’s computer (such as screen size), to ensure that the content and information it sends to a computer is properly formatted. This information may be thought of as an individual’s “digital fingerprint.”
Add-ons have many useful benefits. However, a digital fingerprint also creates the potential for employers, insurance companies, and others to discriminate based on add-on information. The TLPC’s comment to the FTC highlights concerns that a party (for example, an employer) could see that a user (for example, a job applicant) has an add-on installed that is specific to his disability. This information could be potentially misused. Consider a person with a vision impairment, who uses a screen reader add-on, in applying for a job on the potential employer’s website. The potential employer sees the installed add-on and decides not to hire the applicant because the employer does not want to pay for accessibility programs for the applicant. The TLPC argues that regulatory agencies should be sensitive to such abuse and consider whether additional safeguards are warranted.
Comment on FTC’s Proposed Privacy Framework
The FCC’s leadership in spectrum management has led to increased spectrum accessibility, more flexibility in how licensees and unlicensed users utilize the spectrum, and a greater reliance on market-type mechanisms. These developments each reflect a welcome migration away from a command and control-type approach to managing the spectral resource. In this Comment, the TLPC encourages the FCC to take the next step in spectrum management by reexamining existing spectrum enforcement mechanisms. Speedy and predictable ways to enforce rights are an important dimension of a well-functioning market. There is reason to question whether existing enforcement mechanisms are sufficient given wireless regulatory and market trends. In Spring 2011, Colorado Law’s TLPC filed a Reply Comment under the FCC’s Dynamic Spectrum Notice of Inquiry (NOI). The TLPC’s filing explains why the FCC should reexamine its existing enforcement and dispute resolution mechanisms in order to adapt to an environment where more intensive and dynamic spectrum activity is likely to increase the frequency of spectrum rights disputes.
University of Colorado Reply Comment ET Docket No. 10-237
by Meg Panzer
This comment, submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), analyzes how consumers have used social media during an emergency, how consumers will expect to use social media for emergency purposes in the future, and to what extent public safety jurisdictions might employ social media tools as a way to interact with the public. This filing requests that the FCC encourage social media use as part of emergency response and provide guidance to jurisdictions that wish to employ social media tools during a crisis.
Comments of Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law and Policy Clinic
Technology Regulatory Advocacy
Learning the craft of regulatory advocacy remains largely an apprenticeship experience. Few resources or formal courses focus on navigating the regulatory process as it relates to technology policy. The existing compilation document is a small contribution toward creation of a helpful “how to” resource concerning technology advocacy.
In January 2010, members of the Cybertelecom list were asked if they knew of “an excellent text or starter set of materials concerning the ‘how to’ advocacy aspects of technology law policy?” It took the group just a week and fifty two responses to collectively say, “no.” Happily, the collective answer went further. Members of the list set about helping fill what appears to be at least a partial literature gap. This resulted a set of ideas which makes progress toward creation of a document which provides guidance to newcomers concerning technology policy advocacy.
This document is an open source creature. Input and additions are welcome. As is, the document is a helpful checklist of considerations within a useful conceptual framework. It remains, however, two dimensional for those who have not done it before. Concrete stories and illustrations from technology policy would be particularly helpful and welcome. This document will be updated on a monthly basis through Colorado Law’s Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic.