Rep Ted Lieu (D-CA) is a USAF reserve colonel, former member of the Judge Advocate General Corps and holds a computer science degree -- he's one of the four members of Congress with any formal computer science qualifications. Read the rest
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster [R-PA] admits that he's having an affair with Shelley Rubino, vice president for global government affairs for Airlines for America, but swears that's not why he gave her industry so many awesome legislative gifts. Read the rest
The Senate has approved a bill (which already passed in the House) that makes it legal for you to unlock the phones you own so you can choose which carrier you use. Read the rest
Ever since Newt Gingrich consolidated power in 1995, purging any Congressional technical experts who might question his judgment, the GOP has waged war on intelligence in the halls of Congress, leaving an expertise void that has been filled by lobbyists, especially the Heritage Foundation, and an oversight void that hasn't been filled at all. Read the rest
The Congressmen who sent letters to the FCC condemning Net Neutrality received 2.3 times more campaign contributions from the cable industry than average. The analysis, conducted with Maplight's Congressional transparency tools, shows that Dems are cheaper to bribe than Republicans (GOP members received 5x the Congressional average from Big Cable; Dems only 1.2x) and shows what a chairmanship of a powerful committee is worth: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the FCC-overseeing Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, got $109,250 (the average congressscritter got $11,651).
29 Congresscritters own stock in Comcast, and Comcast is the 25th most-held stock in Congress. Read the rest
Senator Joe Manchin delivered a grandstanding, technologically clueless, facepalm-inducing request to the Treasury Department to ban Bitcoin. In response, Rep Jared Polis (who proudly wears Boing Boing tee-shirts in his spare time, and rocks some snazzy duds on the floor of Congress) wrote a mock-serious request for dollar bills to be removed from circulation, pointing out that practically every objection that Manchin raised over Bitcoin applies equally well to paper money. Read the rest
Congress's private gym -- whose budget is a closely held secret for "security" reasons -- has remained open during the shutdown. It was deemed an essential service. By John Boehner himself. (Possibly because so many Tea Party Congressmen live in their lavish tax-funded/tax-free offices and use the fancy club as their personal showers, rather than renting DC lodgings)
The staffers' gym was closed, however. Read the rest
We've been CISPA'd again.
For a second year the US House has passed the embarrassingly vague Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill that could scatter your personal information like a tornado hitting a trailer park. Echoing last year, the Obama administration has threatened to veto CISPA if it fails to incorporate privacy controls, but we shouldn't have to rely on presidential intervention or the Senate's questionable wisdom to save us. Though Congress is gifted in the arts of incompetence and believes digital liberties only matter to basement-dwelling teens, we cannot entirely vilify the House, either. If there's one thing our representatives actually represent about us, it is our ignorance of technology. Read the rest
As the House of Representatives opens hearings on SOPA, the worst piece of Internet legislation in American history, it has rejected all submissions and testimony from public interest groups and others who oppose the bill.
Irony Alert: The House is holding hearings on sweeping Internet censorship legislation this week -- and it's censoring the opposition! The bill is backed by Hollywood, Big Pharma, and the Chamber of Commerce, and all of them are going to get to testify at the hearing.
But the bill's opponents -- tech companies, free speech and human rights activists, and hundreds of thousands of Internet users -- won't have a voice.
Micah sez, "Like a lot of people on Sunday afternoon, Baltimore-based software developer Chris Ashworth was frustrated with the way Congress had handled the important but often routine business of raising the nation's borrowing limit. 'When the debt deal goes through,' he mused on Twitter to what he describes as a fairly modest following, 'can we start a meme where we all make videos of ourselves slowly & sarcastically applauding our politicians?' That was the beginning of Slow Clap for Congress, what is at present a very basic website hosting Ashworth and a handful of other folks doing -- well, you get the idea. Slow Clap for Congress