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Richard Blumenthal on Technology

 

 


Google fined $7M for secretly collecting personal info

The Street View case arose out of Google's deployment of special vehicles to photograph the houses and offices lining the world's streets. For several years, the company also secretly collected personal information--e-mail, medical and financial records, passwords--as it cruised by. It was data-scooping from millions of unencrypted wireless networks. A worldwide uproar ensued.

Google initially denied any data had been collected from unknowing individuals. Google said the data had been destroyed, although it turned out some had not been.

The inquiry began in June 2010. Richard Blumenthal, then Connecticut's attorney general, said his office would lead a multistate investigation into what he called "Google's deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy." In December 2010, Blumenthal issued a civil investigative demand to get the data. Google never provided it. The current A.G. said that now, "what mattered was Google admitted they weren't just taking pictures."

Source: New York Times, "Google pays fine" , Mar 13, 2013

Engage private sector to gather intel for homeland security

Q: Do you consider it good luck or good planning that we have not had a major terrorist attack on American shores?

McMAHON: Both. The terrorists only need to succeed once, while we must get it right every single time.

BLUMENTHAL: While I am thankful that there has not been a successful attack on American shores since 9/11/2001, real threats remain. It is therefore vital that we use both military and non-military methods to target and attack the terrorists where they are. This includes targeting Al Qaeda's organizations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen as well as its affiliates like Al-Shabaab in Somalia. At the same time, we must do more at home to remedy the unacceptable flaws exposed in our homeland security, by improving information sharing, bringing together the best technology and the most effective management strategies to get people working across agencies, and to engage the private sector to collect, understand, and mobilize information in real time to improve our national security.

Source: Connecticut Jewish Ledger coverage of 2010 CT Senate debate , Sep 29, 2010

Voted YES on authorizing states to collect Internet sales taxes.

Congressional Summary: The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 authorizes each state to require all sellers with sales exceeding $1 million in the preceding calendar year to collect and remit sales and use taxes, but only if complying with the minimum simplification requirements relating to the administration of such taxes & audits.

Opponent's Argument for voting No (Cnet.com): Online retailers are objecting to S.743, saying it's unreasonable to expect small businesses to comply with the detailed--and sometimes conflicting--regulations of nearly 10,000 government tax collectors. S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores. President Obama also supports the bill.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. COLLINS. This bill rectifies a fundamental unfairness in our current system. Right now, Main Street businesses have to collect sales taxes on every transaction, but outbecause -of-state Internet sellers don't have to charge this tax, they enjoy a price advantage over the mom-and-pop businesses. This bill would allow States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales, thereby leveling the playing field with Main Street businesses. This bill does not authorize any new or higher tax, nor does it impose an Internet tax. It simply helps ensure that taxes already owed are paid.

Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. WYDEN: This bill takes a function that is now vested in government--State tax collection--and outsources that function to small online retailers. The proponents say it is not going to be hard for small businesses to handle this--via a lot of new computer software and the like. It is, in fact, not so simple. There are more than 5,000 taxing jurisdictions in our country. Some of them give very different treatment for products and services that are almost identical.

Reference: Marketplace Fairness Act; Bill S.743 ; vote number 13-SV113 on May 6, 2013

Require websites to police for copyrighted materials.

Blumenthal co-sponsored PIPA: PROTECT IP Act

Congressional Summary:Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA (in the House, Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA) :

OnTheIssues Notes: SOPA and PIPA, proponents claim, would better protect electronic copyright ("IP", or Intellectual Property). Opponents argue that SOPA and PIPA would censor the Internet. Internet users and entrepreneurs oppose the two bills; google.com and wikipedia.com held a "blackout" on Jan. 18, 2012 in protest. An alternative bill, the OPEN Act was proposed on Jan. 18 to protect intellectual property without censorship; internet businesses prefer the OPEN Act while the music and movie industries prefer SOPA and PIPA.

Source: HR3261/S968 11-S968 on May 12, 2011

Support Lifeline program for low-income broadband.

Blumenthal signed supporting Lifeline program for low-income broadband

Excerpts from Letter to FCC chairman from 15 Senators: We write to express how deeply troubled we are that one of your first actions as FCC Chairman has been to undermine the Lifeline program and make it more difficult for low-income people to access affordable broadband. Lifeline is a critical tool for closing the digital divide--a problem you pledged to prioritize. Abruptly revoking the recognition of nine companies as Lifeline broadband providers does nothing but create a chilling effect on potential provider participation, and unfairly punish low-income consumers.

Last year, the FCC modernized the Lifeline program, rightfully refocusing its support on broadband, which helps end the cruel "homework gap" for the five million out of the 28 million households in this country with school-aged children who lack access to broadband.

By statute, the FCC has an obligation to ensure "consumers in all regions of the country, including low-income consumers" have access to "advanced telecommunications services."

Opposing argument: (Heritage Budget Book, "Cut Universal Service Subsidies"): Heritage Recommendation: Eliminate telecommunications subsidies for rural areas, phase out the schools and libraries subsidy program, and reduce spending on the Lifeline program by reducing fraud and waste. The "Lifeline" fund, while well-intended, has been plagued by fraud and abuse, as costs tripled from under $600 million in 2001 to almost $1.8 billion in the 2013 funding year.

Supporting argument: (ACLU, "Task Force Letter"): The ACLU, a co-chair of the Leadership Conference Media Task Force, joined this letter to the FCC Chairman in response to his decisions to revoke the Lifeline Broadband Provider designations for nine providers. The ACLU has long supported expansion of the Lifeline program, which provides access to phone and broadband services for lower income families.

Source: Letter on low-income broadband 17LTR-FCC on Feb 10, 2017

Other candidates on Technology: Richard Blumenthal on other issues:
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