Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

August 1, 2014

The Internet.org App, Net Neutality and the Digital Divide

Facebook on Thursday announced an app from Internet.org – a project among companies including Facebook which tries to expand Internet access in parts of the world where people aren’t connected – that lets mobile phone users connect to certain websites without incurring data charges, starting with Airtel customers in Zambia. A couple articles say that’s a good thing or at least has the potential to do so, but they also lay out questions about implications on net neutrality and the digital divide.

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Senate Appropriators Worry About ‘Gold Standard’ of Research, Too

House appropriators have worried the “gold standard” of science — the ability to reproduce results — isn’t being met in a significant amount of recent research. It looks like Senate appropriators have the same concern, at least as it applies to some biomedical research.

July 31, 2014

Fight Over Set-Top Box ‘Integration Ban’ Continues

Lawmakers may be getting ready to leave Washington until September, but that doesn’t mean the lobbying and the fight between TiVo and the cable industry over the so-called integration ban on cable set-top boxes has died down.

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Sen. Gillibrand Introduces Cybersecurity Information-Sharing Tax Credit Bill

gillibrand 035 0601014 445x296 Sen. Gillibrand Introduces Cybersecurity Information Sharing Tax Credit Bill

Gillibrand walks past a Senate Armed Services Committee media stakeout on June 10. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced a bill Thursday to provide a tax credit for costs of joining cybersecurity information sharing groups.

The bill would allow costs like membership dues and costs related to sharing information with organizations such as Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) to be counted as a tax credit.

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Old-School NASA Ground Ops Are Highlight of Ranger 7 Film

For #ThrowbackThursday: Fifty years ago today, NASA got its first close pictures of the moon with its Ranger 7 spacecraft after several failed attempts.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released the above 1964 film it produced on Ranger 7, and if anything, it’s an interesting look at old-school ground operations.

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By Anne L. Kim Posted at 10:12 a.m.
Space

July 30, 2014

Still Room for Congress on Patent Fee-Shifting, USPTO’s Lee Says

The deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said on Wednesday that “legislative clarification” is still possible on the issue of fee-shifting in patent lawsuits, even after two Supreme Court decisions on the matter earlier this year.

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Wireless Cramming: Consumers Took Big Hits, Report Says

A report released by a Senate panel estimates that unauthorized third-party charges on consumer cellphone bills, known as “cramming,” likely cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars over several years. It also states that wireless companies’ policies to address the issue and ” sometimes lax oversight left wide gaps in consumer protection.”

The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is holding a hearing on the issue Wednesday afternoon and its report comes just a couple days after the Federal Trade Commission issued a staff report listing recommendations for industry to reduce mobile cramming. The agency also filed a lawsuit recently against T-Mobile, accusing the company of engaging in cramming.

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Bill Foster, the No. 1 Science Geek in Congress?

foster 203 032614 445x301 Bill Foster, the No. 1 Science Geek in Congress?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

While it’s common for lawmakers to have had former careers as lawyers or business owners, having “physicist” on your employment history is pretty rare. Roll Call’s Jason Dick has a profile out this morning on Illinois Democrat Bill Foster, who was a physicist before being elected to Congress (according to CQ’s member profiles, he also previously owned a theater lighting company). Over the summer, the “entrepreneur/experimental physicist/politician has been playing the role of science guy,” Dick writes.

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July 29, 2014

Leahy: Surveillance Bill Is About ‘Fundamental Relationship’ With Government (Video)

“This is a debate about Americans’ fundamental relationship with their government,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said on the Senate floor Tuesday about his new bill to limit surveillance. “About whether our government should have the power to create massive databases of information about its citizens or whether we are in control of our own government, not the other way around.”

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By Anne L. Kim Posted at 2:33 p.m.
Surveillance

New Surveillance Overhaul Bill Coming From Sen. Leahy

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to introduce new surveillance overhaul legislation.

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