Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 30, 2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Week Ahead: Yelp’s CEO, Cybersecurity & Identity Theft

Events on cybersecurity and identity theft are on tap this week and Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman stops by 1776.


The State Educational Technology Directors Association and the National Association of State Boards of Education host a day-long education technology event.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce holds a day-long cybersecurity forum.

The Progressive Policy Institute hosts an event on wireless policy.


The Identity Theft Resource Center hosts an event related to a survey they’re releasing on the impacts of identity theft on victims.


Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology hosts a day-long event on the Privacy Act and the 1974 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act.

1776 hosts a discussion with Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Yelp.

October 24, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Spectrum Incentive Auction, ECPA & Online Sales Tax Bill

Among some of the news in tech policy this week: the Federal Communications Commission announced a delay of the spectrum incentive auction as well as a pause on its 180-day review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV transactions. In case you missed it, Technocrat had posts on Sen. Orrin G. Hatch‘s call for enactment of legislation targeting abusive patent litigation and changes to electronic privacy law next Congress as well as the state of play on the online sales tax bill.

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Friday Q&A: Next Century Cities’ Deb Socia

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(Photo courtesy of Deb Socia)

A new organization called Next Century Cities launched this week and among its 32 members are Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., which have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to pre-empt laws in their states that they contend restrict their expansion of municipal broadband.

Technocrat talked to the group’s executive director Deb Socia about what it does and if it has a position on the matter of municipal broadband.

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Who Might Replace Wolf on House C-J-S?

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A House Appropriations Committee markup. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

With Virginia Republican Frank R. Wolf retiring, the top seat on the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee is opening up next Congress.

Under that subcommittee’s jurisdiction: the spending bill that covers the Justice Department, the Commerce Department (including the U.S Patent and Trademark Office), NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Whoever replaces Wolf would be in a position to influence not just the dollars, but also the policy of several science and tech-related agencies (for example, though limitation provisions in the bill that prohibit spending for specified activities).

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October 23, 2014

Online Sales Tax Supporters Eye Action in Lame Duck

As supporters of a bill to boost online sales tax collection gear up to pass the measure in the lame duck, opponents say leaders will likely avoid a tax debate in the waning months of this session.

“There’s a lot to pressure to minimize contentious issues at that point in time,” said Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

State and local government associations have been salivating at the chance to collect taxes from out-of-state online vendors, who they say rob them of billions in revenue each year.

The Senate passed a bill, the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, last year that would allow states to collect sales taxes on items delivered to customers in their state. After the bill languished in the House for nearly a year, sponsor Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., combined it with a popular House-passed measure extending a moratorium on taxing Internet access.

Congress extended the Internet access tax moratorium under the government’s stopgap funding bill through Dec. 11, at which time the Senate could take up Enzi’s new proposal (S 2609).

“We know the House is interested in passing a continuation of the moratorium,” said Dan Crippen, executive director of the National Governors Association. “And so, what the Senate is essentially saying is that this is a more complete e-commerce bill and addresses both issues at once.”

It may not be as simple as that, Mitchell said. With several other pressing matters on the agenda for the lame duck, any procedural roadblocks on the tax issue could force leaders to delay action until next year.

Some senators also indicated they may support the measure if they had more time to debate the issue, including Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

“I think the bill is well-intentioned and I’m not fundamentally opposed to it,” Hatch said on the floor, before the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness bill last year. “But, make no mistake, there are problems with this legislation as it is currently drafted; problems that likely could have been avoided if the Finance Committee had been given an opportunity to fully consider the bill.”

If Republicans take control of the Senate in November, Hatch could have more sway in getting the bill to the floor. For now, Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is among those from states without sales taxes who are expected to try and keep the issue separate from the access tax moratorium.

“Sen. Wyden is going to do whatever it takes to preserve the Internet Tax Freedom Act, including making sure people understand that [the Marketplace Fairness Act] violates the animating principle of ITFA,” Wyden spokesman Keith Chu said in an email.

By Sarah Chacko Posted at 1:30 p.m.

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