Technology

In certain cities across the United States, there is a battle for broadband brewing in the halls of municipal and state legislatures. Currently, 19 states have laws in place that make it difficult for municipal governments to provide broadband service via public power utilities. Cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina are petitioning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to preempt state laws that restrict the right to offer broadband.

In T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell the Supreme Court will decide whether a letter denying a cell tower construction application that doesn’t explain the reasons for the denial meets the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) “in writing” requirement.  The State and Local Legal Center’s (SLLC) amicus brief argues it does.  This case will...

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Under a first-of-its-kind state law that takes effect next July, Minnesota will require all new smartphones sold within its borders to be equipped with an anti-theft “kill switch.” The passage of SF 1740 reflects growing concerns in Minnesota and other states about a rise in phone thefts.
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Under a first-of-its-kind state law that takes effect next July, Minnesota will require all new smartphones sold within its borders to be equipped with an anti-theft “kill switch.” The passage of SF 1740 reflects growing concerns in Minnesota and other states about a rise in phone thefts.
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Aerial and camera surveillance of public areas is nothing new, but as lawmakers learned this July during a roundtable discussion, advances in technology are raising new policy questions about everything from privacy and private property to the practices of law enforcement.
Take, for example, the increased capabilities of a drone.
It now can be equipped with high-resolution cameras that observe objects, in detail, as small as 6 inches from as far as 17,000 feet away and can track 65 different targets over a 65-square-mile zone.
“There are a lot of good things that drones can be used for,” said Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, noting how effective and inexpensive they have become. “But there need to be some types of guidelines in place for their use.”
States have a central role to play in setting those guidelines, added Scott, who helped facilitate the discussion among state and provincial lawmakers at the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting.
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For farmers and ranchers, the promise of “big data” to vastly improve operations is hard to ignore. Take, for example, the idea of “prescriptive production.” By merging a decade’s worth of fertilizer, climate and yield data with advanced soil maps and existing conditions, a producer can make more-informed management decisions — down to the fertilizer used and seeds planted on each acre of land. Evidence shows that this approach can increase yields by between 10 and 25 percent.
“Big data” is the term applied to the sorting and processing of enormous quantities of data. And the ability to crunch massive amounts of data may be as important to the future of food production as the development of the tractor was for 20th-century agriculture.
But it is also hard to ignore the myriad policy and privacy issues arising from increased use of “big data.”

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments requests the U.S. Congress and the federal government to pursue opportunities to protect intellectual property, reduce fraudulent theft, and protect American businesses and consumers.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced plans to hire a Chief Data Officer for the Department. Secretary Pritzker emphasized the breadth and depth of information that the Commerce Department handles and says the new Chief Data Officer will be able to coordinate data collection and help the agency use data strategically. Many states, counties and cities have already realized the benefits of chief data officers. As of July 2014,...

According to the Washington Post, New York has become the first state to propose separate regulations for virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The New York Department of Financial Services announced yesterday in a press release that it has released it’s first draft of regulations. According to the press release, the proposed regulatory framework "is the product of a nearly year-long DFS inquiry, including public hearings that the Department held in January 2014 – contains consumer protection, anti-money laundering compliance, and cyber security rules tailored for virtual currency firms". The proposed rules will be published in the New York State Register’s July 23, 2014 edition at which point the 45-day public comment period will begin. After the comment period, the rules are subject to additional review and revision based on that public feedback before DFS finalizes them.

On May 22, 2014,  with  Governor Bobby Jindal’s signature, Louisiana  joined the ranks of states such as Wisconsin and Tennessee in barring employers and educational institutions from requesting or requiring personal social media account access with the “Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act”( HB 340).

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