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Friday, October 26, 2012

Privacy: An Abridged Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act



Charles Doyle
Senior Specialist in American Public Law

This report provides an overview of federal law governing wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

It is a federal crime to wiretap or to use a machine to capture the communications of others without court approval, unless one of the parties has given his prior consent. It is likewise a federal crime to use or disclose any information acquired by illegal wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping. Violations can result in imprisonment for not more than five years; fines up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 for organizations); civil liability for damages, attorneys’ fees and possibly punitive damages; disciplinary action against any attorneys involved; and suppression of any derivative evidence. Congress has created separate, but comparable, protective schemes for electronic communications (e.g., email) and against the surreptitious use of telephone call monitoring practices such as pen registers and trap and trace devices.

Each of these protective schemes comes with a procedural mechanism to afford limited law enforcement access to private communications and communications records under conditions consistent with the dictates of the Fourth Amendment. The government has been given narrowly confined authority to engage in electronic surveillance, conduct physical searches, and install and use pen registers and trap and trace devices for law enforcement purposes under ECPA and for purposes of foreign intelligence gathering under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

This report is an abridged version of CRS Report R41733, Privacy: An Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, by Charles Doyle, without the footnotes, quotations, attributions of authority, or appendixes found there. The longer report also serves as the first section of CRS Report 98-326, Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping, by Gina Stevens and Charles Doyle, which examines both ECPA and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It too is available in abridged form as CRS Report 98-327, Privacy: An Abbreviated Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping, by Gina Stevens and Charles Doyle.



Date of Report: October 9, 2012
Number of Pages: 11
Order Number: R41734
Price: $29.95

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Privacy: An Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act



Charles Doyle
Senior Specialist in American Public Law

This report provides an overview of federal law governing wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). It also appends citations to state law in the area and the text of ECPA.

It is a federal crime to wiretap or to use a machine to capture the communications of others without court approval, unless one of the parties has given his prior consent. It is likewise a federal crime to use or disclose any information acquired by illegal wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping. Violations can result in imprisonment for not more than five years; fines up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 for organizations); civil liability for damages, attorneys’ fees and possibly punitive damages; disciplinary action against any attorneys involved; and suppression of any derivative evidence. Congress has created separate, but comparable, protective schemes for electronic communications (e.g., email) and against the surreptitious use of telephone call monitoring practices such as pen registers and trap and trace devices.

Each of these protective schemes comes with a procedural mechanism to afford limited law enforcement access to private communications and communications records under conditions consistent with the dictates of the Fourth Amendment. The government has been given narrowly confined authority to engage in electronic surveillance, conduct physical searches, and install and use pen registers and trap and trace devices for law enforcement purposes under ECPA and for purposes of foreign intelligence gathering under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

This report appears as a part of a larger piece, which includes a discussion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and is entitled CRS Report 98-326, Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping, by Gina Stevens and Charles Doyle. Each of the two is available in an abridged form without footnotes, quotations, attributions of authority, or appendices, i.e., CRS Report R41734, Privacy: An Abridged Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, by Charles Doyle, and CRS Report 98- 327, Privacy: An Abbreviated Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping, by Gina Stevens and Charles Doyle.



Date of Report: October 9, 2012
Number of Pages: 91
Order Number: R41733
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Millennium Challenge Corporation



Curt Tarnoff
Specialist in Foreign Affairs

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provides economic assistance through a competitive selection process to developing nations that demonstrate positive performance in three areas: ruling justly, investing in people, and fostering economic freedom.

Established in 2004, the MCC differs in several respects from past and current U.S. aid practices:


  • the competitive process that rewards countries for past actions measured by objective performance indicators; 
  • the pledge to segregate the funds from U.S. strategic foreign policy objectives that often strongly influence where U.S. aid is spent; 
  • its mandate to seek poverty reduction through economic growth, not encumbered with multiple sector objectives; 
  • the requirement to solicit program proposals developed solely by qualifying countries with broad-based civil society involvement; 
  • the responsibility of recipient countries to implement their own MCC-funded programs, known as compacts; 
  • a compact duration limited to five years, with funding committed up front; 
  • the expectation that compact projects will have measurable impact; and 
  • an emphasis on public transparency in every aspect of agency operations. 

On February 13, 2012, the Administration issued its FY2013 State, Foreign Operations budget, requesting $898.2 million for the MCC, the same amount it received in FY2012 and FY2011. In September 2012, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (H.J.Res. 117, P.L. 112-175), was approved by Congress, providing FY2013 funding for the MCC at the level in the FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74) plus 0.612%—$904 million. The resolution expires on March 27, 2013.

Congress authorized the MCC in P.L. 108-199 (January 23, 2004). Since that time, the MCC’s Board of Directors has approved 26 grant agreements, known as compacts: with Madagascar (calendar year 2005), Honduras (2005), Cape Verde (2005), Nicaragua (2005), Georgia (2005), Benin (2006), Vanuatu (2006), Armenia (2006), Ghana (2006), Mali (2006), El Salvador (2006), Mozambique (2007), Lesotho (2007), Morocco (2007), Mongolia (2007), Tanzania (2007), Burkina Faso (2008), Namibia (2008), Senegal (2009), Moldova (2009), Philippines (2010), Jordan (2010), Malawi (2011), Indonesia (2011), Cape Verde II (2011), and Zambia (2012).

MCC issues include the level of funding to support MCC programs, the impact of budget reductions on MCC programs, the rate of program implementation, the results of MCC compacts, and procurement and corruption concerns.



Date of Report: October 16, 2012
Number of Pages: 44
Order Number: RL32427
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Federal Support for Academic Research



Christine M. Matthews
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

From the time of Vannevar Bush and his 1945 report on U.S. science policy, academic research has played a role in the nation’s economy. Vannevar Bush’s report, Science the Endless Frontier, maintained that major investments in research should be made to the nation’s universities. He stated that the research capacity of the colleges and universities was significantly important to long-term national interests. Currently, some Members of Congress have expressed concern about the health and competitiveness of the nation’s colleges and universities. There are those who continue to maintain that the long-term competitiveness of the nation is linked to the strength of the academic research infrastructure. It has been shown that academic research is integrated into the economy and impacts at both the local and national level. By one estimate, approximately 80% of leading industries have resulted from research conducted at colleges and universities.

Colleges and universities are the primary performers of basic research, with the federal government being the largest funding source. In FY2008, the federal government provided approximately 60% of an estimated $51.9 billion of research and development funds expended by academic institutions. When measured in current dollars, federal academic support increased by 2.5% between FY2007 and FY2008. When inflation is taken into account, it equates to an increase of 0.2% from FY2007 to FY2008 following two years of decline in constant dollars since FY2005. An issue before the 112th Congress is that with further budget reductions expected, how does the nation best reduce the budget while adjusting the support for research conducted at colleges and universities?



Date of Report: October 18, 2012
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R41895
Price: $29.95

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Friday, October 19, 2012

America COMPETES Acts: FY2008-FY2013 Funding Tables



Heather B. Gonzalez
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Major provisions of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 are set to expire in 2013. As such, the 113th Congress will have the opportunity to reconsider this act and its policy contributions. Those contributions include, among other things, funding authorizations for certain federal physical sciences and engineering research programs, as well as selected STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education programs.

To aid Congress in its deliberations over future funding for these policies, this report tracks historical federal funding associated with the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358) and its predecessor, the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69). This report includes two tables summarizing authorizations and funding status for selected provisions of these acts over the course of their respective authorization periods. (See Table 1 and Table 2.) This report will be updated to reflect FY2013 congressional funding decisions when those decisions are final.



Date of Report: October 16, 2012
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: R42779
Price: $29.95

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