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Technology & Science Archive

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.

Tea Party Excess Threatens High-Tech Success | Commentary

The government shutdown and threatened financial default may seem so yesterday, given the Obamacare rollout mess. But the tea party’s October call to conservative arms is having a persisting, pernicious effect, even though the media and Wall Street seem to have moved on.

Goodlatte's Patent Bill Is Two Steps Forward, One Back | Commentary

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., is making a well-intentioned play to reform patent litigation by reining in the frivolous and costly lawsuits that all too often act as a roadblock to innovation.

The Roar of Digital Media | Commentary

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet is scheduled to hold a hearing titled The Rise of Innovative Business Models: Content Delivery Methods in the Digital Age. This is a subject that online distributors of digital content such as music, movies and books know far too well.

Patent Reform's Unfinished Business | Commentary

Just two years since the enactment of the America Invents Act, the Obama administration and Republicans and Democrats in Congress are calling for further reforms of the patent system. These calls reflect growing bipartisan recognition that innovators are being increasingly harmed by the abusive behavior of patent trolls, also known as “patent assertion entities” or PAEs.

Park Testimony Was Critical to Tamp Down Interbranch Acrimony | Commentary

The Barack Obama White House made the correct decision when it agreed to allow the administration’s top technology officer, Todd Park, to testify before Congress about troubles with the Obamacare rollout.

Competitions Aim to Define Congress' Social-Media Successes

Counting Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers is easy, but for a congressional office trying to measure political engagement, those numbers don’t add up to much.

Washington Lags Consumers in Embracing Digital Age | Commentary

As they have throughout history, Americans are embracing technological change as a way to improve their quality of life. Just as the steam engine, electric light bulb and the automobile drove earlier revolutions, Internet-based communication is expanding our horizons and opening boundless opportunities. But Internet innovation could move even faster if Washington policymakers could manage to keep pace with the average American.

Cybersecurity That Protects Freedom of Speech | Commentary

Top lawmakers in Washington recently talked about reconsidering cybersecurity legislation — legislation that has failed to become law multiple times.

Broadband Is the Key to Low-Income Adoption of the Internet | Commentary

The Internet is a potentially transformative technology that provides the capacity to level the playing field by equalizing access to education, health care, employment, government services, news and entertainment. For all Americans to realize the power of the Internet, there are two essential ingredients: broadband deployment and broadband adoption.

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