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.
A large coalition of internet companies and advocacy groups has declared today “The Day We Fight Back” against mass surveillance. The coalition is urging US citizens to contact their legislators to ask for Congressional intervention on mass surveillance programs.
Utah Lawmaker Apparently Tired Of Residents Having Fast, Competitive Internet Access, Proposes Law To Stop Expansion
Municipal fiber networks might just be the wave of the future when it comes to speedy internet access. The cable companies already providing internet access, though, aren’t always so keen on the competition–and those companies have deep pockets and access to lawmakers’ ears. And so now Utah becomes the latest state to try legislative measures to bar its cities, towns, and counties from diving into the ISP market.
2013 is gone, a collection of memories never to be dealt with again. Next week, the 113th Congress returns for its second session, ideally to enact legislation throughout 2014, some of which could help consumers if they were to become law. [More]
You may remember the adventures of S., who wanted to turn a drawer full of junky cell phones into Best Buy gift cards, but ran up against a baffling store policy that requires two forms of photo ID to do so. He complained, then flounced to another store that didn’t have this inexplicable policy. Turns out that this policy is pretty explicable: it involves local laws regulating pawn transactions.