Posts by Clarissa Ramon:

This post was co-authored by Leticia Miranda of the Open Technology Initiative at New America Foundation.

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Staying connected with loved ones behind bars is an expense that many families struggle with today.  Aside from exorbitant phone rates charged by private companies who provide phone services to prisons, families are also charged excessive amounts for money transfers and Email.

If the correctional facility that a prisoner is sent to happens to be privately run, chances are the company in charge has figured out a way to turn a profit off any transactions between that prisoner and their loved ones. It is because of the high costs within those facilities that organizations advocate for regulation within the prison communication system in order provide relief for families. Policy makers need to ensure correctional facilities negotiate reasonable rates for all communication services provided by private companies.

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Yesterday, I attended the Senate Finance Committee Hearing on the President’s 2012 Trade Agenda. United States Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk was the sole witness and testified on behalf of the Administration. The hearing was an opportunity for UTSR to soothe public concerns and address the recent scrutiny it’s received for the secretive negotiation process surrounding TPP negotiations. Instead the USTR failed to seriously address the lack of public input within negotiations.  

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It is cheaper to call Singapore at 13 cents a minute from your Verizon cell phone than it would be to speak to someone in prison in this country. The burden of having a family member or loved one in prison is already heavy, making matters worse is the reality that families are continuously wrung dry by expensive calls which include profitable “kickbacks” to the prisons themselves.

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There have been several developments over the past weekend, including a statement from the Whitehouse that expressed reservations about any provisions that facilitate online censorship and threaten the very framework that allows the Internet to function as it does today. With the removal of the DNS provision of SOPA and the cancellation of SOPA’s hearing in the House Oversight Committee by Rep. Darrell Issa, the focus has shifted to the equally destructive Senate companion bill, the Protect IP Act.

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During a recent congressional hearing on H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act”, Representative Conyers stated, “25% of Internet traffic is copyright infringement.” This dramatic figure is meant to justify SOPA as the solution to ending online piracy. But before we take this figure at face value, much less decide if SOPA is the right solution, it’s important to know where this number came from.

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AT&T’s Million Dollar Letter

September 21, 2011

A letter signed by 100 House Republicans was sent to President Obama yesterday urging him to support the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, a merger that the Department of Justice wants to block because of its anti-competitive nature and the resulting consequences for consumers. The letter, sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), is similar to the one released last week by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) signed by 14 House Democrats calling for President Obama to intervene and force the DOJ to settle its suit. 

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