| May 21, 2014, 4:20 p.m.
Lawmakers from both parties regard with something close to hostility a congressionally mandated ban affecting the contents of the cable boxes that sit atop millions of Americans’ television sets. Texas Democratic Rep. Gene Green said the ban has “cost consumers and business over a billion dollars since 2007 in impeding innovation and efficiency,” and he has already tried to kill it with stand-alone legislation.
| May 21, 2014, 4:18 p.m.
Most of the language in a complex satellite and cable broadcast bill working its way through Congress deals with issues the average pay-TV viewer won’t see up close, ranging from retransmission negotiations to media ownership. But one section of the measure would affect a piece of hardware that sits in the TV tuner of every viewer’s cable box — and the makers of third-party units like TiVo say the bill is about to make those consumers’ lives much harder.
| May 15, 2014, 11:39 a.m.
The artist and author Julia Cameron once wrote, “Nothing dies harder than a bad idea.” When Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies in Congress next week, one of those stubborn bad ideas he will be asked about is the call by some online critics to reclassify broadband Internet access as a Title II “telecommunications service” instead of an “information service” as it is today. This bad idea would effectively treat broadband providers and a wide range of Internet firms as public-utility style “common carriers,” along the lines of railroads and canal boats of centuries past. Applying a 19th century regulatory solution to a 21st century problem simply does not make sense.
| May 15, 2014, 5 a.m.
On Thursday, May 8 at 2 p.m., in Cannon 311, my expert colleagues and I testified in an open hearing on the threat of electromagnetic pulse to critical infrastructures. The hearing will prepare members of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies to consider a vitally important bill, arguably the most important bill before this Congress — the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (HR 3410) — that would prepare the nation for a natural or nuclear EMP catastrophe.
| May 13, 2014, 11:43 a.m.
Arguments over net neutrality and how companies connect on the Internet’s back end are usually the province of academics and engineers — but in recent weeks, these complex issues have exploded into the public sphere. Congress is preparing numerous hearing that will touch on these subjects, from Thursday’s House Judiciary hearing on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger to the May 20 House Energy and Commerce oversight hearing on the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC itself will also soon consider new net neutrality regulations.
| May 13, 2014, 5 a.m.
Should lawmakers in Washington override state laws and impose their values on the states? Some members of Congress seem to think so, and they are trying to impose a retroactive federal ban on Internet gambling, including in three states that have already legalized the activity. Not only does the proposal trample states’ rights, it will fail to eliminate illegal online gambling while making consumers less safe online, eliminating millions of dollars in tax revenue for states, and favoring a special interest. It is also based on a blatant misrepresentation of existing law.
| May 12, 2014, 4:45 p.m.
Americans love science, but if its practice and outcomes challenge their deeply held beliefs in any significant way, their love can easily turn to rejection. That dichotomy is nothing new, but today it’s a problem not only for science but also for our nation’s 21st century economy, which depends so heavily on research and development for its growth.
| May 9, 2014, 11:01 a.m.
In 2012, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. One of its key goals was to ensure that American consumers get access to the spectrum they need. As the Federal Communications Commission finalizes its design for the Incentive Auction that will buy back 600 megahertz spectrum from broadcasters in order to sell it to providers of mobile broadband, members of Congress continue to express intense interest in the auction. Recent letters from both sides of the aisle encourage the FCC to conduct an auction equally open to all participants.
| May 8, 2014, 5:17 p.m.
House appropriators advanced a measure Thursday to fund the Justice and Commerce departments, along with science agencies, after endorsing a GOP gun proposal and sidelining a series of Democratic firearm policy amendments.
| May 7, 2014, 5 a.m.
In 1914, a small, but visionary group of America’s leading songwriters and composers — among them, musical greats like Irving Berlin and John Philip Sousa — realized they could protect their rights as music creators more effectively through collective licensing, rather than going it alone. So they came together to form the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP for short.
| May 5, 2014, 5:48 p.m.
Recently, in a victory for open data, both chambers of Congress passed with bipartisan support the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. The bill now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature. The DATA Act would drastically improve the public’s access to federal spending data by expanding the universe of information the government is required to post online and creating government-wide financial data standards.
| May 1, 2014, 5 a.m.
When I was a kid, about 60 years ago, talking to our relatives in Cleveland on Sunday nights was such a momentous event that my mother would make my brother and I dress neatly and comb our hair for it — for a phone call! Such was the phone system in the 1950s.
| May 1, 2014, 5 a.m.
Politics on Capitol Hill can often be as fickle as a Washington, D.C., weather forecast. However, once every blood-red moon, we see members of Congress work carefully and deliberately to introduce true bipartisan legislation — which is precisely what U.S. Representative John Shimkus, R-Ill., is doing with the draft Chemicals in Commerce Act, proposed legislation to reform the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act.
| April 30, 2014, 5:58 p.m.
NASA wants to go to Mars in the 2030s, but there are some technical challenges it’ll have to address. Such as landing.
| April 30, 2014, 3:37 p.m.
Sometime in the next decade, NASA envisions being able to send a spacecraft to snag a small asteroid passing nearby and guide it into orbit around the moon, where astronauts could fly up to study it and return samples to Earth. Agency officials say it’s a way to gain experience and develop some of the technologies it would need to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.
| April 30, 2014, 5 a.m.
Even after almost 10 years of unveiling the latest consumer technology at the International CES, innovation and the ways it keeps us connected — no matter where we are — continues to amaze me. But innovation can also produce what economists refer to as negative externalities: an incessant urge to stay connected, even while we’re driving. And that connection can come at the expense of safety — for us, our families riding in our cars, the strangers with whom we’re sharing the road and everyone who’s hoofing it along sidewalks and crosswalks.
| April 21, 2014, 5 a.m.
Congress has utterly failed to effectively regulate the chemical industry, and thus shares responsibility for widespread toxic chemical contamination of people and the environment. In our daily lives we are exposed to hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of chemicals from a wide range of sources, including personal care and cleaning products, food packaging, plastics, children’s toys, furniture, air, water, our workplaces and our neighborhoods. While most Americans believe chemicals are tested for safety, the unfortunate reality is federal law does not require the chemical industry to prove chemicals safe before they can be used in products we come in contact with every day.
| April 17, 2014, 5:30 a.m.
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first hearing to examine the merger of the nation’s top two cable operators, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. But the merger no longer has the air of inevitability it once did. What happened?
| April 17, 2014, 5 a.m.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon committed the United States to a space shuttle to meet all launch needs for America’s space program — for national security, civil space, human spaceflight and the commercial marketplace. Now, the consequences of this decision and others emphasizing globalization fundamentally threaten America’s vital access to space.
| April 14, 2014, 5 a.m.
The National Cotton Council of America (NCC) appreciates the Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s concern for the relationship between honeybee colony health and U.S. economic and food security (Why Congress Should Care About the Beepocalypse, Roll Call, April 7, 2014). While cotton is one of many crops that does not require the assistance of bees for pollination, the NCC, along with many other agricultural organizations, industries and non-government organizations, continue to seek scientific causes of the decline in honeybee health. Leading scientists, including Dr. Jeff Pettis to whom the congressman referred, have conducted many studies seeking the cause of the honey bee decline and have reported in many open forums that pesticides are only one of many possible factors contributing to the decline in honeybee health. In USDA’s Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honeybee Health (October 15–17, 2012), Pettis reported, “No single silver bullet will solve the problems affecting honeybees and other pollinators.” Similar information was provided in an earlier Congressional Report identifying the multiple factors contributing to the decline in honeybee health.