Congress Passes Bill That Makes it Legal to Unlock Cellphones

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that would allow consumers to open the digital locks on their cellphones, legislation that was already passed by the Senate. Unlocking mobile phones makes it easier to switch wireless carriers. Under current copyright law, however, consumers risk jail time and fines up to $500,000 for unlocking their phones without carrier permission. Such restrictions have proven unpopular with the public and last year a petition called for government action. Continue reading Congress Passes Bill That Makes it Legal to Unlock Cellphones

California Senate Passes Amended Smartphone Kill-Switch Bill

Weeks after the California Senate voted down legislation that would require anti-theft tech in all new smartphones, it has now passed a revised version of the bill after Apple and Microsoft withdrew their opposition. While the legislation is applauded by law enforcement groups, it is still opposed by some wireless carriers, and could face an uphill battle in the state Assembly. If passed, kill-switch technology would be required for phones sold in California that are manufactured after July 1, 2015. Continue reading California Senate Passes Amended Smartphone Kill-Switch Bill

Senate Intelligence Committee Drafts Cyber Threat Legislation

The U.S. government has had little success in passing bills to establish security standards and facilitate data sharing between the private and public sectors, but the Senate Intelligence Committee is currently drafting a new bill that would serve that purpose. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Saxby Chambliss co-authored a bill which states that a company cannot be sued for sharing threat data to any entity or the federal government to prevent or investigate a cyberattack. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee Drafts Cyber Threat Legislation

It’s Official: Satya Nadella to Serve as Microsoft Chief Exec

Following a five-month search, Satya Nadella has officially been named Microsoft’s third CEO in the company’s nearly four-decade-long history. Yesterday, the 22-year Microsoft vet was named to succeed Steve Ballmer. In addition, co-founder Bill Gates will vacate his chairman’s post to become technical adviser to Nadella and help shape Microsoft’s product strategy moving forward, including a focus in the mobile space. Gates is not expected to play a role in day-to-day management. Continue reading It’s Official: Satya Nadella to Serve as Microsoft Chief Exec

House Passes Innovation Act: Enough to Save Patent System?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Innovation Act yesterday, a bill that intends to help reform the troubled American patent system. The bill, which passed by a vote of 325-91 with bipartisan support, will now go to the Senate (where it expects to pass), and then to the White House. Supporters hope the bill will save the current patent system plagued by low-quality patents and trolls, while others suggest it is merely a small solution for a much bigger problem. Continue reading House Passes Innovation Act: Enough to Save Patent System?

Barry Diller Predicts Increase in Number of Aereo Subscribers

Aereo-backer Barry Diller has stated that the online service may grow to the point that 35 percent of U.S. households subscribe. However, this is largely contingent upon the service’s ability to overcome the legal challenges it currently faces from broadcasters. Individuals in their mid- to late-twenties aren’t highly inclined to pay $100 per month for TV cable packages, rendering Aereo’s $8 package highly attractive, according to Diller. Continue reading Barry Diller Predicts Increase in Number of Aereo Subscribers

Senate Commerce Chair Announces Bill to Bolster Online Video

Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) introduced the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act yesterday — legislation that intends to safeguard competition in the online video market, by preventing cable and satellite companies from stifling growth of services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. The proposal could be good news for consumers who complain about subscriptions that include channels they don’t watch, although industry pushback is likely. Continue reading Senate Commerce Chair Announces Bill to Bolster Online Video

Democratic Congressman Proposes Free Market Royalty Act

Representative Melvin Watt (D – North Carolina) introduced the Free Market Royalty Act this week, which would allow record companies and artists to collect royalties when their songs are played on the radio. The bill would change licensing for broadcast radio and online services, and stations like Pandora would have to negotiate with rights holders. This bill has transformational potential, for while songwriters and music publishers receive compensation on the radio, the artists themselves do not. Continue reading Democratic Congressman Proposes Free Market Royalty Act

CISPA: House of Representatives Passes Controversial Bill

In a 288 to 127 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act (CISPA), which encourages businesses to share cyberthreat information with the government. Privacy advocates have been fighting passage of the act, concerned that it allows agencies to conduct warrantless searches of data collected from e-mail and Internet providers. The bill overrides current privacy and wiretap laws. Continue reading CISPA: House of Representatives Passes Controversial Bill

Proposed Bill Gives Consumers Access to Personal Data Info

California Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) has introduced AB 1291, an update to California law that intends to broaden the definition of personal data and make information more accessible to consumers. The “Right to Know Act” would force businesses to inform customers what data is being used and where it is being shared on the Web. The bill comes after increased lobbying efforts from privacy groups. Continue reading Proposed Bill Gives Consumers Access to Personal Data Info

SHIELD Act: Legislation Hopes to Discourage Patent Trolls

Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) want to put an end to America’s patent troll problem with the newly introduced SHIELD Act, which aims to define patent trolls and distinguish them from honest patent holders. In an effort to discourage those who do nothing more than file patent lawsuits, the bill would create a “loser pays” system for specific types of patent litigants. Continue reading SHIELD Act: Legislation Hopes to Discourage Patent Trolls