New Bill Bridges Gap Between Constitutional Rights and Technology

Last week, Massachusetts congressman Edward Markey submitted the "Wireless Surveillance Act of 2012," which aims to protect the constitutional rights of cell phone users.

What’s the Latest Development?

In 2011, more than 1.3 million cell phone users' data—including texts, caller locations, and specific call information—was handed over to US law enforcement agencies without a judge’s approval. This has been possible because there is no law that necessitates any prior approval to obtain such information. Last week, Massachusetts congressman Edward Markey submitted the "Wireless Surveillance Act of 2012" to congress. Some components of the bill limit how and why enforcement agencies can ask for "tower dumps,” apply home search standards to cell phone location requests, and require law enforcement agencies to better manage cell phone data.

What’s the Big Idea?

Markey’s goal for the bill is to "update the 4th amendment for the 21st century." By applying home search standards to search requests, a judge’s approval would be required before they could use your cell phone to track you. The bill would also allow the FCC to set a specific amount of time that agencies can hold onto data, which currently is indefinitely. As technology increases, the need to tailor the law to the times becomes even greater. This bill takes great strides towards balancing the reach of law with the protection of basic constitutional rights.

Photo Credit:

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

James Patterson on writing: Plotting, research, and first drafts

The best-selling author tells us his methods.

  • James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
  • He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
  • James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less