- - Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FCC

Regulators seek more broadband

Federal communications regulators proposed new rules on Tuesday that they say will help bring broadband to all of rural America.

The rules would shift government subsidies for land-line telephone service to fund the build-out of high-speed Internet services in rural areas.


“We won’t fully realize the promise of broadband and the fundamental promise of American opportunity if large swaths of our country are left out,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said at an open meeting of the agency.

Some 24 million Americans live in areas not served by broadband service, but a modernized, streamlined universal service program could begin to bridge these gaps in infrastructure, Mr. Genachowski said.

HOUSE

Patriot Act extension rejected on Hill

The House on Tuesday unexpectedly failed to extend the life of three surveillance tools that are key to the nation’s post-Sept. 11 anti-terror law, an embarrassment for the new Republican leadership that miscalculated the level of opposition.

The House voted 277-148 to keep the three provisions of the USA Patriot Act on the books until Dec. 8. But Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority, and the vote was seven short of reaching that level.

Republicans, who took over the House last month, lost 26 of their own members, adding to the 122 Democrats who voted against it. Supporters say the three measures are vital to preventing another terrorist attack, but critics say they infringe on civil liberties.

The Patriot Act bill would have renewed the authority for court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. Also addressed was a provision that gives the FBI court-approved access to “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation.

IRS

Penalties slashed for coming clean

The Internal Revenue Service is offering reduced penalties for international tax cheats who come clean.

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