In the past few years, much has been made of the plans to merge the accounting standards used in the US with those used by much of the rest of the developed world. In 2002, the US standards setter and the international standards bodies agreed to a framework for convergence of US generally accepted accounting principles (US GAAP) with the International Financial Reporting System (IFRS) in a document known as the Norwalk Agreement.1 Since then, the US and international bodies (known, respectively, as the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, and the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB) have worked to align their respective standards so that, eventually, developed nations will have a homogenous accounting system. One particular point of difficulty in this effort, however, has been the issue of fair value accounting. The economic recession that began in 2007 further complicated convergence efforts as attention was drawn away from reconciliation efforts and focused on both placing blame and reforming the practices that caused the crisis. Then, with the election of President Barack Obama, the entire convergence movement was threatened when the newly-appointed chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that she would not “feel bound”2 by the convergence roadmap established by her predecessor.
As President Obama prepares to announce his plan for the War in Afghanistan and measures to stabilize the economy increase the federal budget deficit to historic levels, perhaps it is time to rethink our nation’s fight against marijuana. With numerous states having passed medical marijuana statutes and the federal government opting not to prosecute those individuals operating within the strictures of such laws, the so-called “War on Drugs” seems to be a money-losing and ill-fated proposition where cannabis is concerned.
Just as the FCC moved its most recent and controversial initiative to the public-comment phase, the agency began what will likely be an even more contentious process to reallocate the nation’s broadcast spectrum. With the goal of providing more spectrum for broadband internet services, the Commission proposed that television broadcasters relinquish a portion of the frequencies they control in exchange for a share of the proceeds the FCC would receive when it auctioned of the spectrum. Considering the expense broadcasters incurred preparing for this past summer’s digital television transition, the organizations were understandably resistant to the proposal. Further complicating the proposal, it is unclear how much spectrum the FCC is seeking.
After New London, NH police arrested 91 Colby Sawyer College students following a raid at an off-campus party, I couldn’t help but wonder if our nation’s drinking age and related policies weren’t contributing to the problem of underage drinking. Does barring our nation’s youth from an activity that is widely accepted, even encouraged, for those of legal age create a situation that compels minors to drink? After all, alcohol advertisements and sponsorships are widespread, be it at sporting events (including those at the college level), on roadside billboards, and in print and online publications. When underage individuals are continually confronted with alcohol, does it not make resisting the temptation to break the law that much more difficult?
Last week, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case testing prosecutors’ immunity from lawsuits where misconduct, or outright fraud, is concerned. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported on a lawsuit that seeks to test the limits of judicial immunity. While the two cases deal with very different circumstances, the potential outcomes raise many of the same concerns and highlight the need for reform.
On Thursday, the FCC approved its net neutrality rules, giving way to 60 days of comments from the public, after which the Commission will release final regulations. Given the intense opposition from companies such as AT&T, the rules will likely face legal challenges before taking effect, and Congress could intervene as well. Progress is progress though.
Yesterday’s report that the FCC recently asked broadcasters to return a portion of their spectrum is curious because of its timing. Coming just four months after broadcasters switched to exclusively transmitting a digital signal, the request begs the question, “Why did the FCC wait until after broadcasters had invested in the digital transition?” As TVNewsCheck reported, in exchange for returning two-thirds of the present television broadcast spectrum, current licensees would receive a portion of the auction proceeds collected when the FCC re-licensed the spectrum. If, however, the FCC were truly serious about repurposing the current television spectrum, the Commission’s offer would have come before broadcasters committed to digital broadcasting.
Recently-released updates to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” seek to deny bloggers’ free speech rights by restricting how writers may discuss products or services companies provide for their review. While I favor transparency and honest disclosure wherever conflicts of interest may exist, the FTC’s disparate treatment of old and new media inherently denies new media its First Amendment rights.
In the age of Facebook, where one is compelled to divulge personal information on a level that wholly eviscerates the concept of privacy, concerns being raised over behavioral advertising seem rather overblown. Using individuals’ browsing habitsâ€”both the sites we visit and the searches we performâ€”behavioral marketing aims to target online advertising to the individual. Advertisers hope that by delivering more-relevant content, users will be more likely to click on the ads. Privacy concerns arise over how the information used to provide behavioral marketing is gathered and how that data can be used, but the concerns seem overblown.
As the FCC prepares regulations to ensure unfettered access to the internet, AT&T and Time Warner are weighing the possibility of charging customers based on their usage, as in the days of dial-up access. The providers contend that if the FCC limits their ability to control the traffic on their networks, they will have no choice but to meter their customers’ access. Already, some broadband carriers are experimenting with metered access, while others have imposed extremely high limits that affect only a minority of users. After having unfettered access for many years, however, either option currently being explored could cause consumers to reduce their use of online services. Largely for psychological reasons, users may avoid data-intensive services for fear of exceeding their allowance, even if the allowance is so high as to not pose a problem. Some may argue that metered access will stifle the growth of the internet, but its widespread use makes that unlikely. Instead, it seems that metered access will become little more than a negotiating point in the FCC’s deliberations on net neutrality. After all, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the amount of data consumed by the average internet user would cost $20 under AT&T’s plan.