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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Data Breach Here, Data Breach There, Data Breach Everywhere! | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED 10 June Re DHS Breach: If you shop with plastic, have health insurance, pay taxes, work for the federal government, or (fill in blank) you’re at risk of a data breach. And with so much information about you already available on the Internet, it’s best not to select easy-search security questions like “Where were you born?” or answers like “Pizza.” What’s your best defense against identity theft? No, it isn’t credit monitoring, it’s a security freeze.

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How Companies Turn Your Facebook Activity Into a Credit Score

This story in The Nation explains our work challenging the way data brokers use "black box," or secret, algorithms to make scoring decisions that may violate the law and deny credit opportunities. This work was also the subject of our recent livestream event featuring Professor Frank Pasquale and his new book, "The Black Box Society." We've now posted an archive of that event, in 3 chapters on our Youtube page.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Event 5/11 re new book on black box decisionmaking & consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED TO CONFIRM CFPB Speaker. We are hosting an event Monday, 5/11, from 9am-noon ET to discuss a new book, The Black Box Society, with author Frank Pasquale. Click Keep Reading to RSVP to attend in person or to watch the livestream. While credit bureaus have long functioned as black box gatekeepers to opportunity, panelists will discuss the growing use of more and more, even less transparent black boxes to categorize consumers in the digital economy.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

PIRG Commends Supporters of Duckworth Amendment to Protect Our Troops From High-Cost Loans

Last night, on a 32-30 bipartisan vote, the House Armed Services Committee supported the Tammy Duckworth (IL) amendment to strike language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have delayed Pentagon-proposed improvements to the Military Lending Act of 2007. It's a critical victory for servicemembers, veterans and their families, although the fight to protect our troops from high-cost loans will continue.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

U.S. House Considers Delay To Financial Protections for Servicemembers, Veterans | Ed Mierzwinski

(UPDATED 30 April): Last year the Department of Defense proposed needed improvements to the 2007 Military Lending Act, since high-cost lenders were exploiting loopholes to evade the law's 36% APR cap on loans to servicemembers to make loans at 400% APR or more, harming military families and threatening unit preparedness to defend the nation. Now, days before a committee vote, predatory lenders have succeeded in convincing House Armed Services Committee leaders to insert language into the National Defense Authorization Act that would delay the DoD regulations up to a year while needless, redundant studies are prepared. Only in Washington.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Patriot-News: Are red-light cameras worth the money?

A bill that would allow Harrisburg and 18 other cities to install cameras at red lights passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

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News Release | Budget, Transportation

New Report Outlines Problems with Red-Light and Speed Cameras

(Philadelphia, PA) – A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors.

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Post-Gazette: Group urges caution on cameras for red light enforcement

A public interest group today issued a report recommending that governments exercise caution in deploying automated red-light enforcement cameras at intersections.

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Essential Public Radio: Research Group Cautions About Red Light Cameras

With the state legislature debating possible expansion of red light cameras from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and 18 other Pennsylvania cities, Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG) warns of their ineffectiveness.

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Central Penn Business Journal: Judge privatization panel on results, supporters say

Sometime toward the end of the month, Gov. Tom Corbett's newly appointed privatization council is expected to convene for its first meeting. When it does, it will have a broad mandate. Members will look across "the entire spectrum of state functions" to find potential savings, Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said.

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Blog Post

Testimony in Support of Smoke-free Workplaces

The U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona issued a comprehensive scientific report which concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.  The report finds that even brief secondhand smoke exposure can cause immediate harm, and concludes that the only way to protect nonsmokers from the dangerous chemicals in secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking indoors.  For this reason, PennPIRG supports a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars, private clubs, and casinos.

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Blog Post | Tax

Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes Testimony: HB 1186 | Phineas Baxandall

To PennPIRG, combined reporting is a basic issue of tax fairness and tax modernization that should be enacted regardless of the revenue consequences and regardless of whether the Commonwealth faces persistent budget deficits or surpluses.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Reducing political access of powerful interests

The new Congress deserves credit for quickly and strongly responding to the scandals of last year by passing sweeping changes to the rules that will reduce the special access of wealthy and powerful interests in Washington.  It was a critical first step. We now urge you to finish the job by supporting legislation that will ensure that the new rules will be adequately enforced.  Today, we ask you to be a co-sponsor legislation introduced by Sens. Lieberman, Collins and Obama to enforce the rules.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Transportation Funding Testimony

In brief, the PennPIRG Education Fund is advocating that the Commission recommend the expansion of existing revenue streams for public transit, such as the real estate transfer tax, the tire tax, and the rental car tax, as well as developing new funding mechanisms, such as a transportation impact fee, a vehicle sales tax based on weight and/or fuel efficiency, as well as several others.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony on Potential Lease of the PA Turnpike

Many of the concerns raised about leasing Pennsylvania highways in general, and the Turnpike in particular, revolve around costs in a monetary sense, especially raising tolls. But there are many less visible costs whose impact will be far greater than toll increases under the proposed contract. These costs need to be brought into the discussion.

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