The United States House of Representatives voted last Thursday to pass a piece of legislation called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. The controversial bill now sits in the hands of the Senate and faces further modifications if it hopes to gain approval from the White House, which has already gone on record with a veto threat. Legions of Internet users expressed outrage when the bill was passed, and numerous protests are being staged. According to President Obama’s office, the bill would allow “broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information,” but what exactly is CISPA? Greg Vokes of Paralegal.net sought to make the answer as easy to digest as possible, and the result is a terrific infographic titled “WTF is CISPA?” that can be viewed below in its entirety. More →
Beginning in 2015, all new cars in the United States will likely need to be fitted with data-recording “black boxes” very similar to the devices currently used in aircraft. The U.S. Senate has already passed a bill that will make the devices a requirement, and the House is expected to approve the bill as well. Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 states that mandatory event data recorders must in installed in all cars starting in 2015, and it outlines civil penalties that will be levied against violators, Infowars.com reports. While the primary function of the black box devices would be to record and transmit data that could be used to assist a driver and passengers in the event of an accident, the bill has legislation built in that would give the government access to the data with a court order, and it also gives authorities the ability to access the data as part of an investigation. According to the report, these caveats could potentially lead to Big Brother-like scenarios where citizens are monitored or even actively tracked without their knowledge or consent. More →
The House of Representatives defeated the digital TV delay bill with a 258-168 vote that failed to secure the two thirds needed for passage. The vote closely followed party lines with 155 Republicans voting against the bill and 22 Republicans voting for it. Amongst House Democrats, 236 voted for the bill and a mere 13 voted against it. The defeat signaled a win for House republicans who have opposed the delay, claiming the four month delay would further confuse consumers, cause an unnecessary delay for companies and public safety agencies waiting for the spectrum to be released and burden TV companies with the additional cost of broadcasting both analog and digital signals during the four month delay. The defeat is a setback for the Obama administration and congressional democrats who believe that the current resources to assist people in the digital TV transition are in a state of disarray and are concerned that the public, particularly poor, rural and low-income Americans, will not be adequately prepared when the analog air waves are turned off on February 17th. The Obama administration and congressional democrats still claim to be exploring all options to secure another vote on this issue.
First it was the White House that voiced its opposition earlier this week to the FCC’s plan for free wireless broadband using the white space spectrum, now it is Congress’s turn to weigh in on the matter. In a letter to the FCC, the incoming chairmen for the Senate and House Commerce committees, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), urged the FCC to focus on the upcoming digital TV transition and to stay away from “complex and controversial items that the new Congress and new administration will have an interest in reviewing” during the FCC’s next and final meeting for 2008. The FCC responded by saying that it is reviewing the letter and will reach out to the other offices before making a final decision on the vote. This request for a delay is in direct opposition to the request made by M2Z networks, a potential licensee of this white space spectrum and one of the driving forces behind the free wireless broadband proposal, which claimed that “any further delay from the FCC on this matter would result in the violation of a self-imposed Congressional deadline and would constitute a violation of the Communications Act.” With increasing pressure from both sides and the December 18th meeting drawing closer, the FCC only has a few short days to render a decision. The only thing we can be sure of is that the decision, regardless of which way it falls, will surely generate yet another round of controversy.