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      A nearly 20-year ban on human spaceflight regulations is set to expire / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 27 July, 2023 - 11:00

    A crew of six passengers, including former professional football player and television anchor Michael Strahan, stroll past the Blue Origin New Shepard booster they rode into space in December 2021.

    Enlarge / A crew of six passengers, including former professional football player and television anchor Michael Strahan, stroll past the Blue Origin New Shepard booster they rode into space in December 2021. (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images )

    In 2004, Congress passed a law that established a moratorium on federal safety regulations for commercial astronauts and space tourists riding to space on new privately owned rockets and spacecraft. The idea was to allow time for new space companies to establish themselves before falling under the burden of regulations, an eventuality that spaceflight startups argued could impede the industry's development.

    The moratorium is also known as a "learning period," a term that describes the purpose of the provision. It's supposed to give companies and the Federal Aviation Administration—the agency tasked with overseeing commercial human spaceflight, launch, and re-entry operations—time to learn how to safely fly in space and develop smart regulations, those that make spaceflight safer but don't restrict innovation.

    Without action from Congress, by the end of September, the moratorium on human spaceflight regulations will expire. That has many in the commercial space industry concerned.

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      TikTok CEO fails to convince Congress that the app is not a “weapon” for China / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 23 March, 2023 - 22:21

    TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    Enlarge / TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (credit: Kent Nishimura / Contributor | Los Angeles Times )

    For nearly five hours, Congress members of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew over concerns about the platform's risks to minor safety, data privacy, and national security for American users.

    “The American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security,” committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wa.) said in her opening statement, concluding that “TikTok is a weapon.”

    Rodgers suggested that even for Americans who have never used the app, “TikTok surveils us all, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole.”

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      Biden’s TikTok ultimatum: Sever ties with China or face US ban / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 16 March, 2023 - 16:12 · 1 minute

    Biden’s TikTok ultimatum: Sever ties with China or face US ban

    Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

    After US President Joe Biden and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) spent years trying to work out a deal with TikTok that could address national security concerns, Biden seems to have given up. Yesterday, TikTok confirmed that the Biden administration issued an ultimatum to the app’s China-based owners to either divest their stakes or risk a TikTok ban in the US, Reuters reported .

    Biden’s demand comes just one week before TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Chew is already in the US and is working with “experienced Washington advisers” to help him defend TikTok against its harshest critics in Congress next Thursday.

    Chew told The Journal that forcing a sale does not address national security concerns any better than the deal that TikTok had already worked out with the CFIUS. Under the deal that Biden seems to be shrugging off now, TikTok has already invested billions in moving its US users’ data to US servers and hiring independent monitors to ensure that Americans’ TikTok feeds can’t be manipulated and that their data can’t be accessed by China authorities.

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      Congressman confronts FBI over “egregious” unlawful search of his personal data / ArsTechnica · Friday, 10 March, 2023 - 18:57 · 1 minute

    Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.)

    Enlarge / Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) (credit: Bill Clark / Contributor | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. )

    Last month, a declassified FBI report revealed that the bureau had used Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to conduct multiple unlawful searches of a sitting Congress member’s personal communications. Wired was the first to report the abuse , but for weeks, no one knew exactly which lawmaker was targeted by the FBI. That changed this week when Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) revealed during an annual House Intelligence Committee hearing on world threats that the FBI’s abuse of 702 was “in fact” aimed at him.

    “This careless abuse by the FBI is unfortunate,” LaHood said at the hearing, suggesting that the searches of his name not only “degrades trust in FISA” but was a “threat to separation of powers” in the United States. Calling the FBI’s past abuses of Section 702 “egregious,” the congressman—who is leading the House Intelligence Committee's working group pushing to reauthorize Section 702 amid a steeply divided Congress—said that “ironically,” being targeted by the FBI gives him a “unique perspective” on “what’s wrong with the FBI.”

    LaHood has said that having his own Fourth Amendment rights violated in ways others consider “frightening” positions him well to oversee the working group charged with implementing bipartisan reforms and safeguards that would prevent any such abuses in the future.

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      Aktueller Stand zur Jahresendveranstaltung

      nd · / CCCEvent · Monday, 3 May, 2021 - 08:00 · 1 minute

    English version below

    TL;DR: Wir versuchen ein physisches Event zu veranstalten. Es wird aber definitiv einen virtuellen Teil geben. Mehr Infos später im Jahr.

    Es ist noch sehr früh im Jahr, vor allem für Blogposts zum Congress. Dennoch möchten wir euch jetzt schon über den Planungsstand zu einem möglichen Event Ende des Jahres informieren. Auch wenn noch überhaupt nicht klar ist, wie ein Event Ende 2021 aussehen könnte, möchten wir versuchen, dieses Jahr ein physisches Event zum üblichen Zeitpunkt zu veranstalten. Ob das klappt ist zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt allerdings noch völlig offen.

    Unabhängig davon wird es einen virtuellen Teil geben.

    Wir gehen davon aus, dass wir Ende des Sommers (August/September) weitere Informationen für Euch haben. Sobald es soweit ist, findet Ihr die Infos auch wieder hier im Events Blog.

    Stay tuned.

    English version:

    Status of the Event at the End of 2021

    TL;DR: We’re trying to make an on-site event happen. There will be, in any case, an online part. More info later in the year.

    It’s an early time in the year, especially for blogpost regarding the congress. Nevertheless we want to inform you about our plans regarding an event end of the year. Even it’s not clear how an event end of 2021 could be like, we are going to try to make an on-site event happen at the usual time of the year. If this will be possible is not sure at this point.

    Nevertheless, there will be an online part.

    We’re optimistic that we’ll have more information for you at the end of summer (August/September). As soon as we have, you’ll find it here on the CCC Events Blog.

    Stay tuned.

    Photo by Kuma Kum on Unsplash

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      Proposed Sec. 230 rewrite could have wide-ranging consequences

      Kate Cox · / ArsTechnica · Monday, 8 February, 2021 - 23:03 · 1 minute

    Cartoon hands hold out a band-aid over the words Section 230.

    Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images )

    A trio of Democratic Senators has taken this administration's first stab at Section 230 reform with a new bill that would make platforms, including giants such as Facebook and Twitter, liable for certain limited categories of dangerous content. Unfortunately, although the bill's authors try to thread a tricky needle carefully, critics warn that bad-faith actors could nonetheless easily weaponize the bill as written against both platforms and other users.

    The bill ( PDF ), dubbed the SAFE TECH Act, seeks not to repeal Section 230 (as some Republicans have proposed ) but instead to amend it with new definitions of speakers and new exceptions from the law's infamous liability shield.

    "A law meant to encourage service providers to develop tools and policies to support effective moderation has instead conferred sweeping immunity on online providers even when they do nothing to address foreseeable, obvious and repeated misuse of their products and services to cause harm," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who introduced the bill. "This bill doesn’t interfere with free speech—it’s about allowing these platforms to finally be held accountable for harmful, often criminal behavior enabled by their platforms to which they have turned a blind eye for too long."

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      Parler’s ownership offer to Trump and possible Russian ties probed by Congress

      Jon Brodkin · / ArsTechnica · Monday, 8 February, 2021 - 21:25 · 1 minute

    The Parler logo on a phone screen.

    Enlarge / Parler's logo. (credit: Getty Images | Smith Collection/Gado)

    A congressional oversight committee is investigating whether Parler has financial ties to Russian entities, citing reports that the right-wing social network "allowed Russian disinformation to flourish" before the election and hosted calls for violence before a Trump-incited mob stormed the Capitol on January 6. The committee's chairwoman sent a letter to Parler COO Jeffrey Wernick today, demanding documents on Parler's ownership, potential ties to Russian individuals or entities, and reported negotiations between Parler and the Trump Organization.

    "Parler reportedly allowed Russian disinformation to flourish on its platform prior to the November 2020 election, facilitating Russia's campaign to sow chaos in the American electorate," US Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, wrote in the letter to Wernick. "Although similar disinformation was removed by other social media platforms, it was allowed to remain on Parler. When US hosting services cut ties with Parler for repeatedly failing to moderate content advocating violence, Parler re-emerged on a Russian hosting service , DDos-Guard, which has ties to the Russian government and counts the Russian Ministry of Defense as one of its clients."

    Maloney also cited a BuzzFeed report that said, "The Trump Organization negotiated on behalf of then-president Donald Trump to make Parler his primary social network, but it had a condition: an ownership stake in return for joining." Parler offered Trump's company a 40 percent ownership stake but negotiations "were ultimately derailed by the events of January 6," the report said.

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      Second Dem has COVID after riot, calls for fines against maskless Republicans

      Beth Mole · / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 12 January, 2021 - 15:42

    Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC July 29, 2020.

    Enlarge / Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC July 29, 2020. (credit: Getty | Graeme Jennings )

    A second lawmaker announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19 days after bunkering with Republican colleagues who “recklessly” and “cruelly” refused to wear a mask amid the attack on the Capitol building.

    Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) revealed her positive test late Monday in a scathing statement , linking her infection to the events of January 6 and blasting her colleagues across the aisle for putting others’ health at risk.

    “Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them. Only hours after President Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, our country, and our democracy, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack,” Jayapal said in the statement.

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      Congressional doctor warns insurrection may have been superspreader event

      Beth Mole · / ArsTechnica · Monday, 11 January, 2021 - 16:34

    Workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) clean an entry to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021.

    Enlarge / Workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) clean an entry to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg )

    The attending physician to Congress on Sunday sent an alert to lawmakers warning them that they may have been exposed to the pandemic coronavirus while huddled in a safe room during last Wednesday’s violent insurrection at the US Capitol by supporters of President Trump.

    As Ars has previously reported , there was clear risk of mass disease spread at the insurrection. Mostly maskless rioters not following social distancing recommendations may have spread the virus amongst themselves and to lawmakers as they rallied and stormed the Capitol building. In addition, lawmakers and staff who likewise eschew basic public health guidance added to the risk of a superspreading event as members of Congress hunkered down together during the attack.

    In the Sunday email alert sent to all members of Congress, attending physician Brian Monahan focused on the latter risk, writing:

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