Site Map - Legal Issues

School security

- A bill (S. 620) that would have provided federal grants to install sprinklers or other fire suppression or prevention technologies in college and university dorms died in committee. The funds could have been used by public and private institutions to provide fire-safety equipment in all campus housing including sorority and fraternity houses. 

Security equipment

- Several bills introduced in the 108th Congress would have given companies tax breaks or incentives to purchase security equipment. Such equipment included physical security devices and fire-safety technology. 


- One bill (S. 1350) considered by lawmakers would have required that companies victimized by an electronic security breach notify customers that their information may have been compromised. The bill, which was similar to one that took effect in California this year, was considered in committee, where hearings were held, but was not brought to a vote.

Port security

- Two bills were introduced to address port security issues. The first bill (S. 1400) was approved by the Senate but was not considered in the House. The bill would have established an integrated coastal-observation system with several goals, including fighting terrorism and monitoring storm activity. The system would also have collected data on the marine environment and ocean life. Another Senate bill (S. 193), which would have required that the Department of Energy evaluate radiation detection systems for use at U.S. seaports, failed to win approval in its Senate committee. The system would have been used to detect the presence of a dirty bomb being smuggled into the U.S. aboard a cargo vessel.

First responders

- Two bills (S. 930 and H.R. 3266) designed to provide funds and training to first responders failed to go further than being considered in committee.

Aviation security

- Two bills (S. 957 and H.R. 1889), introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) respectively, would have required that aircraft cabin-crew members be certified and trained on security and safety procedures. Despite bipartisan support, neither bill garnered committee approval.


- A law (P.L. 108-159) renewing the expiring provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act includes a provision stating that information about certain internal investigations need not be communicated to the target of the investigation until the inquiry is completed.

Identity theft

- A bill (H.R. 1731) designed to increase criminal penalties for identity theft was signed into law (P.L. 108-275) by the President. The law creates the crime of aggravated identity theft for crimes that involve felonies, such as bank or mail fraud. This crime carries a sentence of two additional years in prison added to the felony conviction. Those who commit identity theft while also perpetrating a criminal act will be given an additional five years in prison.


- A federal appeals court has ruled that file-sharing software, such as Grokster, does not infringe on the copyright of entertainment providers. In its ruling, the court noted that new technology always disrupts established markets but that "time and market forces" often balance the interests of the various players. MGM has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the case. (MGM et al v. Grokster, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 03-55894, 2004)

Security plans

- A new Wisconsin law (formerly S.B. 8) allows state utility authorities to withhold access to their security plans if they determine that the subject of the plan is so vital to the state that its incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on the state's physical or economic security, or on public health, safety, or welfare.


- In Colorado, a new law (formerly H.B. 1134) establishes an investigations department within the state's motor vehicles administration to investigate and prevent fraud committed by using driver's licenses, identification cards, motor vehicle titles and registrations, or other documents issued by the administration.

Legal Reporter

- Congress passes an intelligence reform bill. Plus, courts look at cases involving premises liability, negligence, and defamation, while states pass legislation on background checks and identity theft.

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.

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