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Technology & Science Archive

President Grant and Funding Research for Oral Cancer | Commentary

This Presidents Day, please take a moment to reflect on Ulysses S. Grant, the only U.S. president to die of cancer. Pain from oral cancer left him mute and unable to eat solid food. A man whose voice had commanded the attention of kings and queens was left to communicate with his physician through penciled notes. These handwritten missives leave an intimate and harrowing account of Grant’s debilitation and pain. Biographer Horace Green found the majority of these notes “too pitiful for print.”

Congress' Airplane Cellphone Ban Should Be Grounded | Commentary

Congress has been unable to do anything about most of the important problems facing Americans, but it’s having no trouble drumming up bipartisan support for needless regulations aimed at solving problems that don’t yet exist. The House Transportation Committee’s latest coup is a proposed ban on cellphone calls on airplanes, which would effectively curb any extension of the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to allow in-flight phone usage after years of prohibition. Although many people may find other passengers’ phone conversations to be annoying, so long as they do not present a safety threat, it’s not the government’s business to legislate them.

Cyberthreats Require Collaboration Not Confrontation | Commentary

As retailers, every day we seek to provide customers the goods and services they want at the best value. But retailers also know that consumers demand more than just a good deal, they expect to be treated fairly and honestly. Consumers also expect that their purchases are made in an environment where personal information is secure.

Modernized Telecom Policy Must Reflect That Change Is the Only Constant | Commentary

Eighteen years ago this month, when Congress last updated the regulation of telecommunications, it was both right on time and too soon.

Security Secrets Create Hurdles for Lawmakers

While lawmakers this week were looking to get to the bottom of the recent data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus and possibly craft legislation to respond to those attacks, they were faced with a stark reality from the investigations: They and the public won’t be getting solid answers anytime soon.

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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.

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