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The 1980s were a decade to remember. Advancements in the ’80s became the foundation for many of the technologies that have become a part of our daily lives — wireless phones, video game consoles and, of course, the foundations of the Internet. And just like our favorite ’80s TV shows are remade into new movies (such as “Transformers” and “The A-Team”) let’s add a 28-year-old online privacy law deserving of a remake too: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
Did you lock your front door when you left for work this morning? Rest easy, then, knowing your papers are secure. But what about your emails? Not so much. Because right now, an outdated law threatens the Fourth Amendment protections of every American who uses the Internet. Whether you are a committee chairman or an unpaid intern, your digital privacy is currently at risk.
On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will give his sixth State of the Union Address and there is no doubt that the speech will contain familiar themes on policy initiatives his administration has long championed. Perhaps chief among them though is telecommunications policy, an area that Congress and the president must address if the country is to remain competitive around the world.
If the members of the new Congress are looking for ways to show the world they can take action and get things done, I have a suggestion. How about a bipartisan piece of legislation that has the potential to help save injured troops and strengthen public health in the United States and across the globe?
In the center of the country there’s a quiet revolution taking place that holds great promise for our nation, though only if we address the growing innovation deficit facing America.
While lawmakers have proved to be more than willing to weigh in on the Federal Communications Commission’s open Internet rule-making, and some have threatened legislation, the legislative branch likely isn’t the area of government that worries the FCC most.
As is normal, the start of a new Congress resonated with pledges of bipartisan intention as legislative leaders expressed a determination to work across the aisle in addressing the nation’s challenges.
After months of speculation about how the Federal Communications Commission would act on its new open Internet rule, the agency is beginning to show its cards, and lawmakers watching the net neutrality issue are starting to put plans of their own into play in reaction.
When the 114th Congress convenes, it will find it has lost something of significance: much of its institutional memory about science and technology. And with the rest of the world making a strong play to topple America from its perch atop the innovation pyramid, that’s very troubling.
Known Verizon hired gun Marty Chavez recently purported to speak not just for the Hispanic Technology and Telecom Partnership, but also the “vast majority” of civil rights organizations on the issue of net neutrality and reclassification (“Why Minorities Oppose Utility Regulations on the Internet,” Roll Call, Dec. 16).
Yet another esteemed group of academics waded into the net-neutrality debate this month. While their contribution will not attract the attention that followed President Barack Obama’s Nov. 10 call for the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify the regulatory framework for broadband Internet access, they identify a serious problem. Unfortunately, they fail to embrace the obvious solution to that problem.
Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and even the executive branch, continue to grapple with net neutrality and whether or not the government should reclassify the Internet as a public utility.
Two accidents in the commercial space industry this year — an unmanned rocket that exploded shortly after launch in the fall and an experimental suborbital craft that broke apart during flight shortly after — are almost sure to come up the next time a congressional committee discusses the private spacecraft market. But, experts say the incidents won’t have much of an effect on the sector’s increasing expansion.
If certain members of Congress and President Barack Obama have their way, 2014 may very well be remembered as the year we started taxing the Internet. The good news is that the passage of Internet sales tax legislation appears unlikely — at least for the moment. The bad news is there are still two far reaching and potentially expensive measures under consideration that pose a serious threat to the Internet as Americans now know it.
Lawmakers are using the Ebola outbreak to call for a broader investment in biomedical research and public health funding to avoid scrambling to respond to a specific disease.
Appropriators are expected to include significant extra funding in an omnibus spending package to help agencies continue responding to the Ebola outbreak, but the final number will be less than President Barack Obama requested.
A year ago today, the House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Greg Walden, R-Ore., launched the #CommActUpdate, an ambitious effort to overhaul the federal laws that govern America’s communications. Three hundred and sixty-five days later, on the heels of a Republican takeover of Congress and a public endorsement of the effort by soon-to-been Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, John Thune, R-S.D., this necessary effort seems destined for significant progress in 2015. Given the outdated 1934 laws are in today’s digital economy, this should be welcome news for all stakeholders in the communications landscape, including Internet companies, consumers and legislators looking to promote modern, constructive public policy. And with a long history of bipartisan success in this area, unlike other contentious policy areas in Congress, the #CommActUpdate is not only feasible, but realistic.
House Speaker John A. Boehner’s decision to oppose an Internet sales tax measure championed by Senate Democrats and Republicans in the lame duck session is not just good politics, but also good policy in light of the efforts the House Judiciary Committee has already made toward developing an alternative that would treat all kinds of retailers fairly and equally.
All governments tend to subscribe to the principle of “Keynes at home, Smith abroad” — or, advocate market deregulation abroad but retain government powers at home. In the days of electronic surveillance and privacy concerns, telecom authorities around the world are applying this principle to the Internet. But the ideas put forward by President Barack Obama on broadband regulation could backfire with unintended consequences for the global openness of the Internet. The new Republican-controlled Congress should maintain the bipartisan approach of light regulation that made the Internet so successful; otherwise, the U.S. leverage on Internet governance could be lost.
A key figure in the congressional debate over online sales tax collections is Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, the veteran Virginia Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Goodlatte has said he plans to draft sales tax legislation based on seven basic principles, which he lists on his committee’s website.