TLJ News from May 11-15, 2012

House Passes Bill to Limit State Taxation of Mobile Workers

5/15. The House passed HR 1864 [LOC | WW], the "Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2011", by voice vote.

This bill provides that a state may not impose its income tax on non-resident employees unless they earn wages in the taxing state for more than 30 days.

This bill does not address state business activity taxes. The impact of this bill on state taxation of non-resident workers on the basis that they work via phone or internet communications with persons in the taxing state is less than clear.

See, full story.

Sen. Schumer Introduces Bill to Criminalize Removal of ID Numbers from Mobile Devices

5/15. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced S 3186 [LOC | WW], the "Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act of 2012", a bill to make it a crime to alter or remove the identification number of a mobile device.

This bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). Sen. Schumer is a member.

On April 10, 2012, the CTIA announced that certain wireless service providers will take coordinated action "to help deter smartphone thefts and protect consumer data". The gist of that program is the creation of integrated databases of unique identifiers of mobile communications devices reported as stolen, by participating wireless service providers, combined with a commitment by such providers to not provide service to the unique identifiers associated with devices reported as stolen.

At that time, Sen. Schumer announced in a release that he would introduce a bill that would "make it a federal crime to tamper or alter a cell phone IMEI numbers in order to activate a stolen phone. Schumer's legislation will be modeled on similar federal statutes with respect to VIN numbers on automobiles. Anyone convicted of tampering with or altering the IMEI number on a cell phone could face a maximum of five years in prison."

See, story titled "Wireless Service Providers Announce Plans for Disabling Stolen Smart Phones" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,369, April 12, 2012. See also, story titled "House Commerce Committee Democrats Question Companies Regarding Smart Phone Theft" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,356, March 25, 2012.

Sen. Schumer issued a release on May 16. It states that "Currently, when cell phones are reported stolen, many American cell phone companies only deactivate the phone's ``SIM´´ card, which is the account data storage component of the device. While deactivation of a SIM card does not allow for the device to be used with existing data and account information, SIM cards are easily removed and replaced, allowing stolen phones to be easily resold on the black market."

Theft and sale of stolen property are already criminalized. Yet, mobile devices are stolen and resold. Sen. Schumer did not explain why criminalizing the associated act of changing identification numbers should be expected to have a deterrent effect.

Steve Largent, head of the CTIA, stated in a release that "CTIA's members are committed to protecting their customers and their wireless devices from theft. We are pleased to support Senator Schumer’s legislation and believe it will be an important tool in the effort to combat the theft of wireless devices. We hope Congress moves quickly to pass this important bill."

Pai Annouces Staff

5/14. The Senate confirmed Ajit Pai to be an FCC Commissioner for a term of five years from July 1, 2011, and Jessica Rosenworcel to be an FCC Commissioner for a term of five years from July 1, 2010. See, Congressional Record, May 7, 2012, at Page 2931. See also, statement by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, statement by Commissioner Robert McDowell, and statement by Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

McDowell wrote that the important matters facing the FCC include "implementation of the new incentive auction legislation, finally putting the power of unlicenced use of the TV ``White Spaces´´ into consumers’ hands, adopting sensible universal service contribution reform, modernizing our media ownership rules to reflect the competitive marketplace of the Digital Age, important transactions requiring expeditious review, and much, much more."

The two were sworn in on May 14. See, statement by Rosenworcel and statement by Pai.

Rai announced staff appointments in a May 14 release. Matthew Berry is his Chief of Staff. He was previously a partner in the Washington DC office of the law firm of Patton Boggs. Before that, he was the FCC's Deputy General Counsel and General Counsel during the tenure of former Chairman Kevin Martin. See also, story titled "Matthew Berry Joins FCC" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,160, June 23, 2005.

Courtney Reinhard will be Legal Advisor to Pai for wireless, international, and public safety issues. She works for the House Budget Committee (HCC) on spectrum auctions, public safety communications, broadband grants, and the Universal Service Fund. She has also worked for the House Commerce Committee (HCC), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL).

Gene Fullano will be acting Legal Advisor to Pai. He is Associate Bureau Chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

Lori Alexiou will be Pai's Confidential Assistant. She held this position for former Chairman Kevin Martin and former Commissioner Meridith Baker.

People and Appointments

5/14. The Senate confirmed George Russell to be a Judge of the U.S. District Court (DMd). See, Congressional Record, May 14, 2012, at Page S3135.

5/14. The Senate confirmed John Tharp to be a Judge of the U.S. District Court (NDIll) by a vote of 86-1. See, Roll Call No. 90. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) voted no, and 13 Senators did not vote. See also, Congressional Record, May 14, 2012, at Page S3135.

5/14. Howard Shelanski was named Director of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Bureau of Economics (BOE), effective July 1, 2012. He will replace Joseph Farrell, whose last day at the FTC was May 31, 2012. Deputy Director Pauline Ippolito will be the acting Director during the month of June. See, FTC release. Prior to this appointment, Shelanski was a professor at Georgetown University law school, and an attorney at the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardell. He was Deputy Director for Antitrust in the FTC's BOE from 2009 to 2011. Until 2009, he was a professor at UC Berkeley law school. He worked briefly at the President's Council of Economic Advisors, and then briefly as Chief Economist at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), late in the Clinton administration. Shelanski is scheduled to participate in the Technology Policy Institute's (TPI) conference titled "The Future of Internet Economics" on June 15, 2012.

Go to News from May 6-10, 2012.