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Developments

Secretary Locke to Appoint Special Master to Review NOAA Law Enforcement Cases, Restricts Use of the Asset Forfeiture Fund

On September 23, 2010, U.S. Commerce Secretary Locke announced sweeping reforms to increase accountability and transparency and strengthen the public’s trust in NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation. Locke, invoking his authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, announced he will appoint the Honorable Charles B. Swartwood, III (Ret.) to serve as Special Master to review enforcement cases the Commerce Department’s Inspector General identified in its most recent report as problematic, some dating as far back as 2001. Locke will also ask the Special Master to review the complaints that the IG received that were not discussed in the September Report to see if review of those complaints is also warranted.  Judge Swartwood will make recommendations to Locke on whether to take action to modify or remit the penalties.

Judge Swartwood formerly served as Chief Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts and currently serves as the Chairman of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.

OGC Offsite Retreat

US Patent & Trademark OfficeGeneral Counsel Kerry led an offsite training for all of the attorneys at the Department of Commerce on September 22, 2010.  This training at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria marks the third time the entire Office of General Counsel (OGC) has met as a group during his tenure.  The meeting focused on two critical management priorities: collaboration and active client engagement.  Much of the legal work in the office of the General Counsel cuts across the entire Department.  The offsite was an excellent opportunity for attorneys to work collaboratively – breaking down the institutional barriers.  Client engagement early in the development of a new project allows attorneys to provide timely, high quality legal advice that helps the bureau or Department achieve its goal.

Deputy General Counsel Geovette Washington, along with Deputy General Counsel for Strategic Initiatives Quentin Palfrey presented OGC’s goals and priorities.  This presentation highlighted ways in which OGC strives to:

  • Make a lasting impact on rules for commerce that help restart and revitalize the economy and lay a foundation for sustainable US leadership in a global economy.
  • Build a culture of excellence, service, and creative collaboration in the Office of General Counsel and across the Department.
  • Support and protect the Administration and the Secretary of Commerce.

Promoting Security and Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age

General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry TestifiesOn Wednesday, September 22, 2010, General Counsel Cameron Kerry testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee is holding a hearing on "The Electronic Communications Privacy Act: Promoting Security and Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age." General Counsel Kerry appeared on a panel with Associate Deputy Attorney General James A. Baker from the Department of Justice. 

General Counsel Kerry’s testimony reflects the work of the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force on data privacy, cybersecurity, and other issues affecting the digital economy in the 21st Century.

General Counsel Kerry’s testimony reflects the work of the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force on data privacy, cybersecurity, and other issues affecting the digital economy in the 21st Century.  The testimony discussed changes in the digital landscape since the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was enacted in 1986, especially in cloud computing, mobile phones, and location services.

Here is link to his prepared testimony (PDF).