technology

Digital Staffers Focus on Getting on Message
Democrats fighting to catch up to Republicans in numbers and training

GOP Labs brings in companies to train staffers in social media and digital platforms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Breaking through the noise is a typical goal in communications, but this year, staffers just want to speak with one voice. They’re making coordination a priority within their parties.

That coordination is most obvious when multiple congressional offices blast out the same message with the same graphics on the same day. Whether it’s criticizing the Republican tax plan or celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it’s all from the same script.

No, You Didn’t Win a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card. Here’s Why You Saw a Weird Pop-Up Ad on RollCall.com
A malicious ad made it to a Google network

Staffers line the aisle at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting on Jan. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you visited RollCall.com on a mobile device recently, you may have noticed a pop-up ad announcing that “You’ve been selected for a chance to get the $1,000 Amazon Gift Card, Apple iPhone X 256G or Samsung Galaxy S8!” (or something similar).

Sadly, you didn’t win anything. We know other news websites have had this issue as well, so you may have seen the same ad or a similar one elsewhere.

King Announces Lobster Emoji Officially Coming Soon
Maine senator pushed for the crustacean to be added to the list

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, touted his successful campaign for lobsters on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There will be a lobster emoji available for use later this year, thanks to the crustacean’s best advocate, Sen. Angus King of Maine.

Unicode Consortium, which manages the standard set of characters used by most major websites and applications, unveiled its new emoji characters in the 2018 release of the standard character set. 

Rural Areas Feeling Left Behind in Race to Expand Broadband
Lawmakers looking at several options to close digital divide

South Dakota Sen. John Thune talks with reporters Thursday after a news conference at the GOP retreat in West Virginia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Denny Law’s telecommunications company connects phone lines through the plains of western South Dakota and he’s all-in for ending the rural digital divide.

He said President Donald Trump’s promise to level the playing field with a “great, great broadband,” made during a Jan. 8 speech in Nashville, Tennessee, has energized local providers like himself. And, he added, John Thune, the South Dakota Republican who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, had better take note.

White House Would Trade DACA Doubling for Full Wall Funds
Democrats and Republicans expected to object to parts of plan

The White House is set to release its immigration overhaul soon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 7:55 p.m. | The White House has crafted an immigration overhaul package that would offer a path to citizenship to an estimated 1.8 million “Dreamers” brought to the United States as children, restrict so-called chain migration and appropriate $30 billion for a border wall and other security measures.

The outlines of the White House proposal, which will be formally released Monday, will undoubtedly anger President Donald Trump’s populist base that supported his hard-line stance during the election as well as conservatives in the House and Democrats who believe his policies are anti-immigrant.

National Security Risks Seen in Emerging Blockchain Technology

A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin alongside U.S. Dollars. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The expanding popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has brought the emerging blockchain technology to the forefront, and with its rise comes a range of national security concerns for the United States, experts on the new technology say.

In fact, these experts say that it is time for regulators and lawmakers to increase their understanding of the technology, its uses, its potential misuses and to decide how various congressional committees and Cabinet departments will take jurisdiction regarding blockchain.

Amid Safety Concerns, Senators Plan Path for Driverless Car Bill
Blumenthal invokes Ralph Nader’s 1965 “Unsafe at Any Speed“

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, a co-sponsor of a driverless car bill, says he is working to address the reservations of his fellow Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The sponsors of a Senate bill to set the federal framework for driverless vehicles said Wednesday they were making progress on their effort to pass it by unanimous consent. But they resisted calls to amend the measure and said they may pursue a floor vote instead.

After a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee field hearing at the Washington Auto Show, Chairman John Thune told reporters he will continue to work through safety concerns that three Democratic senators had over the bill. But he said he wouldn’t cave to demands that would undermine the purpose of the legislation.

Cold Snap Showed Grid Resilience, Lawmakers are Told

Tourists walk past the U.S. Capitol as snow flurries blow in heavy winds in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. A bomb cyclone winter storm battered the east coast of the United states with heavy winds, snow, and frigid temperatures. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The recent cold snap and “bomb cyclone” weather event that chilled much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this month appears to have showed the reliability and resilience of the electric grid as currently operated, energy officials said Tuesday at congressional oversight hearing.

But it also showed some of the vulnerabilities to the grid, especially as they relate to energy infrastructure, including natural gas pipelines, as wholesale market consumers saw high prices in response to record demand.

After 2016 Failures, Facebook Faces New Test in 2018 Midterms
Social media giant accused of being too passive on foreign interference in 2016 elections

Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are sworn into a Senate Judiciary Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee hearing on “Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find Solutions” in  October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just a few months out from the 2018 midterm primaries and less than a year away from general elections, Facebook appears determined to stamp out foreign interference.

The tech and social media giant was the subject of intense criticism after the 2016 election cycle for failing to curb the spread of misinformation and break down so-called echo chambers of news-sharing and political discourse.

FISA Fight Marks Win for Intelligence Committee Over Judiciary

House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff, left and Chairman Devin Nunes largely got their way in the FISA fight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Jan. 19 signing of legislation to reauthorize a government surveillance authority that has, in some cases, given intelligence and law enforcement agents access to Americans’ correspondence without a warrant, was a victory for security hawks over civil libertarians.

It also marked a win for the House Intelligence Committee over its counterpart, House Judiciary, and a shift in the balance of power on government surveillance from three years ago.