Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

October 31, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality, Spacecraft Crashes & ECPA

Some highlights of the news this week relate to net neutrality, commercial spacecraft and data “throttling.” In case you missed it, Technocrat had a Q&A with the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Chris Calabrese on the details of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act as well as coverage of a report on tariffs and taxes different countries place on technology goods and services.

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Mark Your Calendars: CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference Next Week

Want to know the impact of the elections on the 114th Congress? Check out CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference on Nov. 6. It will be held at the Liason Capitol Hill. See below for more info and a code for 20 percent off your registration fee.


CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference is next week!  Here are 3 reasons you shouldn’t miss it:

  • Frontline perspective from our keynotes and sessions, including our newest keynote panel with Rob Collins, Executive Director, NRSC and Guy Cecil, Executive Director DSCC
  • Behind-the-scenes revelations into what happened, what’s next and what’s on the horizon for the 114th Congress
  • “You-won’t-hear-it-anywhere-else” insight from our panelists and speakers.  View our newest speakers - including Gov. John Engler, President of the Business Roundtable.

Don’t miss all the insight, perspective and networking next week at CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference!


Register today to secure your spot! Use code SUB2014 to receive 20 percent off!

Register now!

Friday Q&A: CDT’s Chris Calabrese

462827273 157x240 Friday Q&A: CDTs Chris Calabrese

Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union at the time, testifies at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on the future of unmanned aviation on January 15, 2014. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Tech companies and public interest groups have been calling for an update of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Technocrat talked with Chris Calabrese, who previously worked at the American Civil Liberties Union lobbying on privacy issues and now is senior policy director the Center for Democracy & Technology, about the details of the law.

He said the 1986 law stemmed from a concern that third parties were beginning to retain increasing amounts of communications and information on individuals and that according to the Supreme Court, it didn’t have Fourth Amendment protection.

In starting to grapple with that in the 1980s, ECPA was their solution, he said.

Full story

October 30, 2014

Fastest Broadband For Your Buck? Try Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo or Paris

If you’re looking to pay less than $40 a month for home broadband, you’ll likely need to go to Asia or Europe to get the fastest speeds, according to a new report from the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, which contends that U.S. consumers tend to pay more for comparable broadband service than their Asian or European counterparts.

The report looked at 24 cities and focuses on home broadband, and does not cover data service offered as part of cell phone plans. Findings from the report, which collected data between July and September 2014, were similar to what they found in the previous two years, according to the report.

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Orbital Sciences Roundup: Possible Impact on Military Rocket Engine Development and More

458031618 445x296 Orbital Sciences Roundup: Possible Impact on Military Rocket Engine Development and More

Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft on-board, suffers a catastrophic anomaly moments after launching from NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Oct. 28, 2014. (Photo by Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)

The Orbital Sciences rocket that exploded just after lift-off earlier this week was on its way to carry cargo to the International Space Station for NASA, but it could have an impact on efforts at the Pentagon to build a new liquid rocket engine, according to a report (subscription required) by CQ Roll Call’s Megan Scully.

Scully wrote Wednesday that the crash will “almost certainly fuel congressional efforts to expedite the military’s nascent plans to develop a new U.S.-built liquid rocket engine.”

We still don’t know exactly what caused the explosion, but Aviation Week reported Wednesday that the company “could accelerate a plan to re-engine the Antares main stage if the cause of an Oct. 28 launch failure is attributed to the rocket’s twin AJ-26 engines.” The story also has background on the engines.

The Associated Press has an overview of Orbital Sciences.

October 29, 2014

Social Engineering, Data Breaches & Top Execs

Unless major businesses realize that even top executives need training to understand that they could be targeted to be the “vector” for an attack, major data breaches will continue, a Justice Department official said Wednesday.

Jonathan J. Rusch, deputy chief for strategy and policy at the Justice Department’s fraud section, talked about social engineering at a panel discussion hosted by the Identity Theft Resource Center related to a new identity theft report from the group.

Full story

Orbital Sciences Investigating Rocket Explosion

After an unmanned Orbital Sciences rocket exploded Tuesday evening, shortly after lift-off on its way to the International Space Station to transport cargo, the company is investigating what happened, with NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration involved. A company executive said Tuesday night they didn’t have early indications of what exactly caused the accident.

Full story

October 28, 2014

FTC Sues AT&T Over Disclosure of ‘Throttling’ on Unlimited Data Plans

The Federal Trade Commission is suing AT&T Mobility, alleging that the company engaged in deceptive acts by inadequately disclosing that it “throttled” speeds of customers of data plans the company represented as unlimited after customers used a certain amount of data in a given billing cycle.

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Data Breach Watchers See Conundrum in Data Breach Consumer Protection Measures

If it’s likely that consumers affected by data breaches don’t feel any direct harms from them, could that be having an effect on data security efforts amongst retailers? CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta reports  (subscription required) that data breach watchers see a conundrum in the laws and regulations designed to protect consumers in the event of data breaches, with industry filling in the gaps.

Margetta writes:

Breaches are serious – they cost millions and companies and consumers never know if stolen data might come back to bite them years afterward. Once data’s in the wild, there’s no telling how it can be used.

But the same measures that keep consumers protected also keep them complacent.

According to Margetta, while some in the financial sector contend that this public disconnect has led to a lack of scrutiny in data security, retailers say that’s not the case.

October 27, 2014

Dozens of Countries Set More Than 5 Percent Tax and Tariff Rates to Tech Goods and Services, Bangladesh ‘Worst Offender,’ Report Says

Dozens of countries set combined tariff and extra tax rates of more than five percent on technology goods and services, and if you buy technology goods and services in Bangladesh, you’re looking at added costs of roughly 58 percent from taxes and tariffs. And that’s not including the country’s value-added tax.

Those are among the findings from a report released Monday by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, which calls on countries to do away with tariffs and extra taxes on technology goods and services.

Full story

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