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Technology & Science Archive

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Retailers Push Back on Proposed Banking Legislation Following Massive Data Security Breaches

Retailers including Target and Neiman Marcus made the rounds on Capitol Hill this week, testifying at three days’ worth of hearings with the dual mission of apologizing for recent large-scale data breaches and discouraging any new regulatory legislation.

Can the Right Technology End Distracted Driving? | Commentary

At any given moment during any given day, hundreds of thousands of drivers in the United States are using their phones while behind the wheel — talking, texting or searching for information — and endangering their lives and the lives of those around them. Technology may be part of our daily habits, but using these devices while driving is becoming a fatal vice that threatens to undo the remarkable progress we have made to improve highway safety. According to the National Safety Council, as many as a quarter of today’s automobile crashes involve drivers talking or texting on their phones, and there is no sign of the problem abating.

Wheeler Puts Digital Networks on Fast Track | Commentary

Off to a quick start, 2014 is sure to be an eventful year for national telecommunications policy. The leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has initiated a yearlong process to evaluate the need for comprehensive statutory telecommunications reform. Simultaneously, the Federal Communications Commission has started a groundbreaking project that will lead to the complete transition of communications users from outdated, single-purpose telephone technology to modern, multifunction Internet-based technologies.

As Data Meets Farm Fields, Concerns Begin to Grow

Farmers no longer just have to worry about whether it will rain too much or too little, or whether prices for their crops will be high enough to cover their costs. Now, growers increasingly are on edge about big data.

No Kidding: Science Offers a Bipartisan Path | Commentary

In December, just before House members left this town for their hometown holiday fetes, Speaker John A. Boehner lost his cool. He vented his exasperation with outside conservative agitators who were opposing the Ryan-Murray budget deal even before there was a deal. Noting they were the same fomenters of the October government shutdown who had later admitted they had no hope of winning, Boehner punctuated his disdain with a vituperative bellow: “Are you kidding me?!”

Focusing on the Future with Progressive Telecom Policy | Commentary

In 2013, gridlock seemed to rule the day. Too often the policy making environment was stuck in neutral, impacting nearly every aspect of our economy, including the communications sector. Our nation’s expert agency on communications policy was limited in its ability to function at full capacity, as the nominations of Tom Wheeler as chairman and Michael O’Reilly as a commissioner to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took a backseat to partisan squabbling in Congress for nearly six months. As one-sixth of our economy, the communications and information technology sector is critical to boosting growth, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Instead of bickering, it’s time for policymakers in Washington to get to work on a busy 2014 communications agenda.

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Congress Considers the Balancing Act Between Security and Privacy

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the agency’s surveillance programs have left Congress stuck between two hugely influential groups: a technology industry that’s long been unhappy about forced cooperation with intelligence operations and an intelligence community that says the work is vital to national security.

Telecoms Will Publish Online Privacy Reports

Thanks to federal restrictions, technology companies and communications providers largely have their hands tied when it comes to providing the public with information about how much customer data they turn over to intelligence agencies.

Native Alaskans Grapple With Global Warming

A group of Native Alaskans traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to plead for congressional action on climate change as they grapple with its dramatic impacts.

Time for Patent Trolls to Pay Their Toll | Commentary

After years of exacting payments from American businesses, the easy paydays for patent trolls may be about to end. In December, the House of Representatives took action to prevent frivolous patent lawsuits. Now it’s up to the Senate to get on board and stop these trolls from sucking the lifeblood from our economy by leveling baseless charges against small businesses.

Airlines, Not FCC, Should Decide Whether to Permit In-Flight Cellphone Use | Commentary

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into whether U.S. airlines should allow their customers to use cellphones on flights for email, texting and voice while above 10,000 feet. The mention of this technical possibility has prompted visceral statements from members of Congress about the threat of being trapped on a plane next to obnoxious passengers yapping away for hours.

Reauthorize America COMPETES Act With Full Funding for R&D | Commentary

Before his death, Steve Jobs gave America a good reminder. “Innovation,” he said, “distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

The Good Science Scam and an Undemocratic Provision | Commentary

Some members of Congress apparently do not want agencies to regulate powerful agricultural and pharmaceutical interests in order to protect the public from dangerous risks. Yet, rather than say that — and be held accountable to the electorate for the consequences — they have developed what has become a standard, indeed almost boilerplate pretext to hide their endgame.

Hitting Budget Numbers May Be Up for Auction | Commentary

Last week, the Congress passed a deal that paved the way to avert another government shutdown in January. Yet as Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill — along with the White House — debated America’s fiscal future, there is another debate happening far from the spotlight over how to auction off the next round of spectrum for mobile wireless carriers.

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Congress Wrestles With Laws on GMO Labeling

Just a few weeks before Election Day in Washington state this year, polls showed voters were solidly behind a measure calling for labels on genetically modified food. Proponents, from state farming coalitions to D.C.-based advocacy groups, felt optimistic.

America's Successful Telecom Experiment | Commentary

Europe doesn’t seem a very productive test-bed for policy these days. Most economists blame the deficit-cutting “austerity” policies for slowing the economic recovery there. Now, as Congress considers the first major update to the Communications Act in nearly two decades, Europe’s leading regulators are criticizing their own past policies for deploying high-speed Internet — even as some here at home argue that the United States should copy it.

HealthCare.gov and the Threat to Cybersecurity | Commentary

Even in an era when denial-of-service attacks and cyber-theft are all too common, the security of one particular website — HealthCare.gov — has garnered significant public and congressional scrutiny.

Inspiring Future Innovators Through Computer Science Education | Commentary

Growing up as the son of a scientist, I learned the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education at an early age. My father was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, and nearly every year, I received a chemistry set for Christmas to spur my interest in science and math.

Federal Efforts to Go Paperless Ignore Seniors' Needs and Digital Divide | Commentary

It’s difficult for many of us to imagine a world without the benefits of technology. As mobile providers revolutionize our daily lives with each new gadget and companies tout the simplicity of e-commerce and social networking, it’s all too easy to forget that this technology is simply not accessible for millions of Americans, especially seniors.

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles | Commentary

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing this month to examine “How Autonomous Vehicles Will Shape the Future of Surface Transportation.” It’s a good inquiry — already, many tech and auto interests recognize the societal benefits and business case for autonomous vehicles, and are investing enormous time and capital into innovating in this rapidly evolving sector.

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