Two kinds of bills run the world, or at least the American slice of it: appropriations acts, which give agencies their budgets, and authorization acts, which tell them how to use them and what they are allowed to do. The bill that authorizes all of the United States’ intelligence activities has been making its way through Congress all year, but now has hit a major roadblock in the Senate, as one Senator has taken a stand against some of its surveillance provisions.
Do digitally enhanced models in ads for fashion brands and other products hurt consumers? A bill that was introduced in Cogress in 2014 would require the FTC to look into the prevalence of advertisements that show digitally altered humans, and the potential harm that they could cause to consumers, especially to the mental health of children and teens. Now the bill’s sponsors are engaging in a new push to get it passed. [More]
This week’s episode of “Congress Tries To Cope With The 21st Century” is all about e-mail, and how much privacy yours gets.
A group of Senators has announced today that they are introducing a new bill into the Senate designed to prevent mass hacking of Americans’ digital devices. But the lawmakers aren’t targeting shadowy collectives or foreign nationals with their proposed legislation; they’re seeking to limit the scope of actual Federal agencies’ powers.
The House of Representatives passed a bill this morning that seeks to limit the FCC’s net neutrality authority and could limit the commission’s ability to investigate consumer complaints about unreasonable charges from and behavior by their ISPs.
Usually, D.C. moves slowly. There’s a kind of plodding, methodical rhythm to Congress and the federal agencies, and very little turns on a dime. So it stands out that less than 48 hours after introducing a bill into the Senate, over 42,000 people have already objected to basically everything about it.
It may seem like Congress never gets anything done, but sometimes they really do! Case in point: a bill, sponsored by lawmakers who are still angry about the FCC’s net neutrality ruling last year, has managed to come out of committee and is scheduled for a House vote. And should the House and Senate both vote on that bill, it will go to the White House… where the president’s top advisors recommend it promptly be vetoed.
Report: New Bill Would Let Judges Order Tech Companies To Break Encryption; White House Not Thrilled
The public fight Apple and the FBI recently had over one particular phone may have resolved itself, but the national discussion over encryption is just warming up. Now there’s a bipartisan effort to make a decision wandering through Congress… but the politics of it say that this particular bill is going to go nowhere fast.
Agencies like the FCC operate under the auspices of Congress, which has oversight authority. And when an agency like the FCC touches a political third rail — in their case, regulation of powerful communications companies — they can expect to have to answer to Congress. Sometimes repeatedly. And so the FCC found itself on Capitol Hill today, being grilled by a panel of passionate Representatives.
The angriest battle in tech right now is taking place between Apple and the FBI. Two weeks in to a very public fight, the argument is only heating up. Today, the debate went over to Capitol Hill.
Since June, 2015, net neutrality — or specifically, the FCC’s Open Internet Rule — has been the law of the land. While the rule is a win for consumers, plenty of businesses and politicians still don’t care for it, to say the least. So while the court challenge against it takes its own sweet time to mosey through the judicial system, opponents are taking another approach. What’s the best way to undo a law you hate? Get a new law.
Hey, remember how the Food and Drug Administration gave restaurants a yearlong extension on the deadline for getting their act together regarding calorie counts on menus nationwide? They were supposed to get their acts together and post that information on menus nationwide by December of this year. Now, though, a new bill passed in the House of Representatives seeks to change that before eateries are forced to comply. Which wouldn’t be for another few years. [More]
That feeling you get on an airplane, the one where it feels like the whole thing is a tin of sardines ad you are just one little fish packed up tightly against all the others? You’re clearly not alone, says everyone who has ever been seated in economy on a flight, which is why one lawmaker is trying to establish minimum seat size standards for all airlines to abide by. [More]
The U.S. Postal Service has adapted to a future where we send and receive fewer first-class letters, but need many more packages delivered to our doorsteps. In testimony to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs this week, Postmaster General Megan Brennan told the assembled senators that the postal service is still looking for new things to deliver to make more money, but hopes that the Senate can pass legislation meant to make it less broke. [More]
We are rapidly running out of 2015 left to spend, and so the two houses of Congress have been racing to pass an omnibus spending bill that will keep the government funded and the lights on. Because that bill is a must-pass piece of legislation, all kinds of crap has been added, taken away, and snuck back in as we come down to the wire. Among the other bills that have been tacked on is a controversial piece of cybersecurity legislation that has privacy and consumer advocates worried all around.
There never has been a tax on email or bandwidth use, for most of us, because Congress made it illegal to charge one more than 15 years ago. That law, though, was temporary and for the better part of two decades, has constantly needed to be extended or renewed. This year, Congress appears finally to be sick of doing that and has real plans to make it permanent, once and for all.
Executives involved in the billion-dollar beer merger between Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller tried to paint a rosy picture of its impending marriage — despite a wealth of contradictory testimony — assuring lawmakers that there’s really no downside to the deal: everyone will benefit, even consumers. [More]
There are billions of reasons (or rather dollars) for the executives for Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Co. to prove that a mega-beer merger is a brilliant plan, and now it looks like they’ll have their chance to opine on its greatness by testifying in front of Congress tomorrow. [More]