Technology

SAFE Web Act protects consumers, Senate should reauthorize it

When it comes to the future of electronic commerce, consumer trust and online privacy are “trending topics” that Americans care very deeply about.
 
Today, an estimated 250 million people in the United States use the Internet. And last year, e-commerce in the United States topped $200 billion for the first time. But lurking online are hackers, cyber thieves, and even organized crime rings.
 
As chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade – and as someone who is also deeply involved in both online privacy issues and consumer protection – I’m very concerned that e-commerce will cease to grow and flourish in the years ahead if Americans lose faith in their ability to be protected from online predators, jeopardizing future innovation as well as our nation’s fragile economic recovery.
 
One important tool in combating cross-border fraud, spam, and spyware is the U.S. SAFE WEB Act of 2006, which is set to expire next year.

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E-Fairness bill restores competitive balance to retail marketplace

Phil Bond's September 27 op-ed posted on The Hill's Congress Blog, Small businesses are not tax collectors, paints a misleading picture of e-fairness legislation pending before Congress. His claim that the Marketplace Equity Act in the House and Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate are "fundamentally flawed and anti-small business" is just plain false. Similarly, his assertion that these bills would require "everyone, regardless of size, to collect sales tax" is disingenuous. As Mr. Bond well knows, both bills contain a small-seller exception that would exempt small businesses from collecting sales tax. 



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FTC action against Google would be unwise

Most of us could identify things about competitive markets we find “unfair.”  I know I could. I wish that woman on eBay who keeps outbidding me for antique telephones would just go away. And I wish the Inn at Little Washington wouldn’t charge so much for its excellent dinners.

Most of us don’t think government needs to stamp out these perfectly legitimate business practices. But the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has authority from Congress to stamp out “unfair methods of competition.” And what is “unfair” is whatever a majority of commissioners say it is. Their current target, according to recent press reports, is Google.

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Evolving cybersecurity for the modern age

Today, a major cybersecurity summit is occurring in nation's capital. The all-star list of attendees includes Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency, and former Homeland Security Secretary Gov. Tom Ridge. The roster also includes a number of technology leaders from the business community.
 
This event couldn't come at a better time. In both the public and private sectors, cybersecurity is seriously underfunded. There needs to be renewed focus on evolving the country's defenses to ward off hackers, with particular emphasis put on improving cyberresiliency -- that is, the ability not only to prevent breaches, but to withstand and recover from them when they do inevitably occur.

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Tackling the Big Data challenge

When I was studying at New York’s Union College in the 1970s, computer science was just beginning to emerge as one of the hottest occupations an enterprising student could pursue. Today, the hot ticket is a degree in computer science with a specialty in data analytics.   



There’s strong demand for data scientists, people who know how to deal with one of today's most popular technology topics, Big Data. That’s the huge trove of raw information that’s now available thanks to the explosion of social media, sensors and other sources. The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts that the number of analytics-based jobs will grow by more than 20 percent between now and 2018 — far outstripping most other categories. At a time when so many recent college graduates are underemployed or searching for jobs, analytics offers the promise of a great career at the cutting edge of technology, business and social change. 



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Answering public's concerns about 'smart meters'

As the U.S. power sector makes investments to modernize the electric grid, one of the basic building blocks is the “smart meter,” which more than half of all U.S. households are expected to receive by 2015. As is the case with any new technology, many consumers are raising questions—what do these new meters do, how will they benefit me, and are they safe? Consumers need and deserve a clear response.

One major benefit is that smart meters improve electric system reliability by providing to utilities near real-time information about electricity use, enabling the utilities to identify and respond more quickly to potential problems that can lead to power outages and act more quickly if an outage occurs. In addition, their two-way communication ability means that customers can receive more accurate information about their electricity use, enabling them to change their consumption habits in a way that lowers their bills.

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Congress must pass effective privacy legislation to protect our children

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) protects the privacy of children online who are under the age of 13. The act also stipulates how Websites should seek parental consent when communicating with these minors. The collection of personal information when children use apps on mobile device appears to be less of a worry for companies though, which has the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerned.

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Our dishonest debate over NSA spying

The House of Representatives recently signed off on another five years of sweeping warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency, voting by a wide margin to extend the controversial FISA Amendments Act of 2008. But the debate on the House floor showed that the law’s staunchest supporters either don’t understand what the law really says and does—or don’t care.

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International law takes on cyber: significant challenges ahead

Speaking at the U.S. Cyber Command Inter-Agency Legal Conference last week, U.S. State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh confirmed the U.S. position that international law is applicable to the cyber environment.

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As Congress turns attention to federal Spectrum, clearing must be the priority

With the announcement of the latest iPhone device this week, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee is holding a hearing today on how more efficient spectrum use by government agencies can translate into benefits for not only millions of American mobile broadband consumers, but for the economy itself. The timing for the hearing couldn’t be better, for it underscores that in a time of ever-increasing consumer demand for mobile services, the goal of freeing up underutilized federal spectrum for commercial mobile services must continue to be one of the nation’s highest technology and economic priorities.

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