INFORMATION

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Intelligence reform

- The intelligence reform bill (S. 2845), which enacts the major recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, has been passed by Congress. The new law creates a director of national intelligence to oversee all U.S. intelligence efforts and a national counterterrorism center. The law also provides additional funding for border control needs, such as more personnel and detention centers. It includes a measure to allow employers to request criminal background checks on security employees and also establishes a national clearinghouse to process such background checks. The bill was stripped of some measures, including a provision that would have denied illegal immigrants driver's licenses, before it gained approval, but it does address standards for driver's licenses. Also, language was added to the bill to protect the chain of command to allow the Pentagon to issue timely instructions to troops during wartime. @ Read the conference report online.

Negligence

- (Hasty v. Trans Atlas Boats, Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, No. 03-30884, 2004)

Premises liability

- (Mae Belle Lane v. St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 71A05-0310-CV-525, 2004)

Intelligence reform.

- An intelligence reform bill that enacts major recommendations of the 9-11 Commission was approved by Congress.

Legal Reporter

- A court considers a company's ban on facial piercing. Also, new rules clarify cargo and port security issues, and Maryland and Florida pass security legislation.

Terrorists in the Driver's Seat?

- Included in the intelligence-reform law is a provision that requires standardization of driver's licenses, including security features. But a final rule to propose the new standards won't be issued until 18 months from the date the bill became law, or June 2006.  

Spyware Bill Reintroduced

- Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA) has reintroduced a bill that would require that consumers receive "a clear and conspicuous notice" prior to software being loaded onto their computers. H.R. 29, titled the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY Act), is cosponsored by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. It was first introduced in 2004 and passed the House in October. However, the bill was not passed by the Senate before the end of the 108th Congress. The SPY Act is meant to protect consumers from spyware, programs that are surreptitiously loaded onto a computer that are able to track and gather the consumer's data, including which sites were visited or even sensitive information such as credit card numbers. The Federal Trade Commission would be responsible for enforcing the SPY Act and would be authorized to fine offenders as much as $3 million per violation.

Drug testing

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a government drug-testing policy did not impinge on the constitutional rights of an employee. In the case, Robert Relford was arrested for drug possession. He attempted to hide the fact from his supervisor at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. However, the supervisor learned of the arrest and told Relford to submit to drug counseling. During the counseling, Relford was chosen for a random drug test. He failed the test and was terminated. The court ruled that testing employees who are participating in a rehabilitation program is constitutional. (Relford v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, No. 03-5600, 2004)

Bioterrorism

- A new Maryland law (formerly H.B. 666) will require the state to issue regulations governing the release of the location and specified nature of biological agents. This information will be made available to specific law enforcement jurisdictions that are located near the agents. However, such information will be kept confidential from the general public and unauthorized persons.

Public records

- A new Maryland law (formerly S.B. 377) will prohibit the release of public records that identify or contain information about individuals or companies that maintain alarms or security systems. In an emergency situation, the records could be released to authorized personnel.

Spitzer Admits Defeat on Licenses for Illegal Aliens

- Widespread popular and political opposition to the plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens in New York has led the governor to kill the plan.

20-20 Spy Sight

- Will intelligence reform help spies see terror threats before it's too late?

Legal Reporter

- New EEOC guidelines for the food-services industry, federal legislation proposed on homeland security and identity theft, and noteworthy judicial decisions
 




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