Monday, June 06, 2005

Federal Bill: No Municipal Telecommunications

It seems as though we just fought this fight. The Texas legislative session is over and a small piece of it -- HB 789, which could have prohibited municipal wireless services -- never made it. At the federal level, a Texas representative, Pete Sessions, is sponsoring a bill that has a much wider sweep. Called "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005," HR 2726 would prohibit the provision of "any telecommunications, telecommunications service, information service, or cable service" by state and local governments in areas where non-state and non-local governments are already providing the service. Existing services are grandfathered in. Definition of "information service," as stated in the Telecommunications Act of 1934, amended by the Telecom Act of 1996:
The term "information service" means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications, and includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of any such capability for the management, control, or operation of a telecommunications service or the management of a telecommunications service.
Does this seem overly broad when it comes to libraries? We make information available via telecommunications and electronically publish (web sites, local databases, even blogs). I'm not a lawyer, but the way I read this legislation, if you've already got a web-based catalog or a library web site, then you'll be fine. Future services? I'm not sure if they would be authorized under this bill. It was introduced May 26, 2005, has no co-sponsors yet, and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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