Internet makes work for Congressmen
The Internet is taking up a lot of the time for Congress in this
Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nevada, said the session is usually short
during election years – there will be a summer break in August
and the session will end the first week of October.
He said he will be spending August in northern Nevada for a series
of town meetings.
Bryan said in a teleconference with Nevada media Thursday that
some of the issues he and and his Senate colleagues are working
on include Internet gaming and Internet privacy.
Virtually Illegal. Bryan an said he is concerned with Internet
gaming because there is no way to regulate if the games are fair.
“If you play the game, is it rigged so there is no way you can
possibly win?” Bryan said. “If you win, how can you be assured
there will be a payoff? It is fraught with many problems.”
Bryan wants to get legislation passed that will penalize servers
which allow those Web sites to continue.
He is also concerned with the fact that there is no way to regulate
the age of those gambling over the Internet.
n How old are you?Bryan is planning on introducing a bill soon
that will address Web sites aimed at children that ask personal
questions about their family and their family’s finances.
“The FCC recently did a study of Web sites that are designed to
appeal to children that offer a legitimate service, and what they
found stunned many of us,” he said.
Eighty-nine percent of the sites solicited information about how
many people are in the family, when the children are home alone
and when the family takes vacations, among other things.
“Some of it is for undoubtedly legitimate marketing purposes,”
he said. “But you never know who you are dealing with, some could
be potentially dangerous.”
He said he is working with the FCC and the FBI to create a mechanism
that will not allow information to be given without a letter or
e-mail from the parent.
n Up in smoke.The tobacco legislation that went up in smoke earlier
this year may be re-introduced again this session, Bryan said,
but it is expected to be greatly pared down.
He said it will be difficult to predict what it will look like,
but he expected the sales tax increase will not be a part of it.
“Only 10 percent of those over 18 years old take up smoking,”
Bryan said. “The whole point was to target kids.”
The sales tax was expected to pay for anti-smoking campaigns aimed
at children and for research.
Bryan said health care officials do not believe they will be able
to stop the growing number of young smokers without the tax money.
n Slamming down the phone.Bryan is working on legislation with
co-sponsor John McCain, R-Arizona, on slamming.
Slamming is the practice of phone companies switching a long-distance
service without informing the customer.
“It is changed without their knowledge and certainly without their
consent,” he said.
The new legislation will require phone companies to have authentication
of the owner’s wish to have their long-distance carrier changed
and wage fines against those that don’t.
n Cash cow. Bryan said hearings have been going on in Congress
this week about regulation of the high fees and surcharges for
“What was once a savings for the bank and a convenience for the
customer has become a cash cow for the bank,” he said.
The increased cost to use ATMs makes the bigger banks more powerful
and harder for the smaller banks to compete, he said.
“The large banks have many more ATMs and they can increase costs
dramatically. People who belong to smaller bank, now are moving
to larger banks,” he said.
n We’re in the money Bryan said with the budget balanced for the
first time since 1969, the debate about what to do with the surplus
is about to begin.
“The politics of dealing with a budget surplus is as daunting
as a budget deficit,” he said.
He said he is afraid people will just want to turn around and
spend the money, while he thinks it will better serve the country
by saving it and build up a large surplus to be used in the social
security system when it is needed.
“2032 is the year they are now giving us as the year we will be
unable to pay the full amount of benefits,” he said. “My preference
is not to spend it. I hope we can show some restraint, but historically
that has not been the case.”