As regulators continue to craft rules meant to crackdown on costly and harmful short-term payday lending, companies are offering alternative products like installment loans and open lines of credit to consumers. But, as it turns out, these cash infusions can be just as devastating to those in need, and few states offer sufficient protections for borrowers. [More]
A life of stealing started with the snatching of a candy bar and transformed into an illegal multi-million dollar online payday lending scheme that allegedly defrauded thousands of people. At least that’s what federal prosecutors say led to charges against a Pennsylvania man recently. [More]
There’s a story we hear far too often: someone is buying a house. Before they put any money down, they do their research. They call the local cable/Internet provider to make sure they can get broadband service at this new address. They double-check. They triple-check. They search the property for wires, call back, and make sure they’ll be okay. Then they take out the mortgage, move in, and… surprise! There’s no broadband service after all, there won’t be any, and now they’re up a very expensive creek. [More]
For the last couple of years, we’ve been telling you about ridiculous, so-called “non-disparagement” clauses that threaten customers with financial penalties for writing (or threatening to write, or even encouraging someone else to write) something negative online about a company. California has already outlawed these clauses, which tend to fail when challenged in court, but an attempt to enact legislation at the federal level has so far fallen short. But that’s not stopping some members of Congress from trying to ban this form of consumer bullying. [More]
Lawmakers in New Hampshire are trying to turn the state a bit greener, with representatives passing a bill in the House that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Getting paid to spy for your government isn’t just something for the movies: In New York City, lawmakers are introducing a bill that would reward citizens who report drivers of idling vehicles and submit a video of the act as proof.
Last year a group of legislators introduced a bill that would have given the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture the legal backbone to get unsafe meat, poultry and eggs off store shelves. While that bill died in Congress, two new measures seek to pick up the pieces, establishing a single, independent federal food-safety agency and providing new recall procedures.
Not unlike a mummy, the reanimated corpse of a bad bill that just doesn’t know when to stay dead is once again coming to the floor of a Congress near you this week. Tomorrow, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — better known as CISPA — is once again going to be introduced before the House of Representatives.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a really big deal — literally. The international trade agreement, still under negotiation, has wide-ranging implications for every sector of the American economy and individuals’ rights within it. But its contents are, largely, a complete black box mystery. And now a large group of advocates from around the world are once again asking the negotiators and nations involved to change that.
Walking down the street to the Metro, I pass so many bars with so many TVs in them that I could probably find live footage of every major sporting event from almost every corner of the world. Obviously it’s not completely illegal to hang a screen by the beer and share a broadcast, or else entire industries would be out of business. But as it turns out, it may not always be exactly legal, either — and the rules that say when and where you’re good to go are a bit more specific than you might think.
GM has spent the year in trouble: their massive recall has come with a slew of investigations, fines, congressional hearings, and lawsuits. But the company has been able to claim incompetence and avoid other potential penalties. Now, two U.S. senators are introducing a bill that will make it much more difficult for the top brass at companies that don’t report lethal errors to plead stupid in the future.
Back in January, at the dawn of the year, we gazed into our not-quite-crystal ball and took a look at some pieces of pending legislation that could help consumers this year. Now, in July, we’re at the halfway point of the year, and so it’s a good time to take a look at those bills and see how the wheels of government have turned in 2014.
The Supreme Court today issued rulings on a handful of cases. One was about two companies nobody’s ever really heard of, arguing over patents for software to manage banking transactions. The details of the patents themselves, and the transactions they deal with, are kind of complicated and insidery — but they’re also not necessarily that important. The broader implications of the ruling, and the legal precedent the Court set with it, though, will have an impact for years to come.
The FCC is spending the summer considering their Open Internet Rule, the piece of cable company f*ckery with a giant loophole allowing companies to negotiate paid prioritization of their network traffic. Today, Democratic lawmakers are planning to introduce a bill that would outright ban those fast lanes.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable have done their parade in front of the House and Senate to state their case publicly for why they should be allowed to merger into a truly massive mega-company. But now, it’s time for the investigation that really matters, as regulators at the FCC and the Department of Justice start looking into whether or not this deal is good for the public interest… or violates antitrust law. [More]
A proposed law in Kansas that would have prevented the expansion of publicly-owned fiber broadband networks in the state is very thoroughly dead, according to one of the bill’s biggest opponents.
E-cigs are still in a strange regulatory no-man’s-land. They’re kind of like regular cigarettes, but they’re also kind of not. Can you use them in places where smoking’s not allowed? Do they fall under current laws restricting the sale of tobacco products to minors? Nobody really knows, yet. Nobody, that is, except the state of Ohio, where a bill regulating e-cigarette sales is now sitting on the governor’s desk.
Tired of your broadband internet service options? Join the club. Millions of us live in areas where there is little to no competition among broadband ISPs. You take the provider you’ve got and put up with it, no matter how slow and unresponsive that service might be. Locally owned public broadband–managed by the city or county–could shake up the scene fairly dramatically, but good luck getting it. Despite grand plans from cities like Los Angeles and Seattle, public broadband options are few and far between.