Category Archives: Legislation

Hospital Price Transparency rule in effect on January 1st 2021

U.S. Hospitals must list the price they charge for at least 300 different services as of January 1, 2021 according to the new Hospital Price Transparency law.  The price lists must be in a consumer-friendly display format as well as downloadable data file formats on each hospital’s website.

More resources regarding this new rule can be found at www.cms.gov/hospital-price-transparency/resources.

Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA) and modem rental fees

The Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (TVPA) requires providers of internet, voice, mobile, and data to engage in transparent sales and billing.  It also prevents providers from charging a consumer for using equipment not provided by the service provider, such as a modem.   The FCC granted providers an extension for this legislation until December 20, 2020.  Modem rental fees should not be charged to consumers who provide their own equipment after that date.

Credit bureaus giving free weekly credit reports now through April 2021

The three major U.S. credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – will now allow Americans to receive free weekly credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com for a year starting April 20th 2020.   These credit reports were previously only free once a year under federal law.

The Federal Reserve Board announced on April 24, 2020 an interim final rule to amend Regulation D for bank transfers.  Previously, only 6 or fewer bank savings accounts transfers per month were allowed, but this is no longer the case.

File income taxes for free using the IRS Free File Program

U.S. taxpayers have the option to file their income taxes for free using the Free File Program from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $69,000 or less (2019 tax year requirement).   The tax preparer must start the filing process at www.irs.gov/freefile instead of a commercial tax software website in order to avoid being prompted for payment.

The Free File program is part of an agreement between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a coalition of tax software companies.

California now has the first IoT security law in the U.S.

California now has the first IoT (Internet of Things) security law in the U.S., as reported by CNET.com.  California Senate Bill No. 327 (SB-327) was signed into law on September 28, 2018, and this law will become effective on January 1, 2020.  The law requires IoT device makers to use appropriate security measures by design, and to protect device data from unauthorized access.

These new requirements are in addition to what is required by the new California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA).

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Act of 2018 was signed into law as of November 16, 2018.  This legislation reorganizes the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a standalone federal agency in charge of cyber and physical infrastructure security.

More information is available at the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA website.

New DMCA government rules allow third party repairs of some technology products

The U.S. Copyright Office issued a new ruling effective October 28th 2018 that allows exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).  Section 1201 of the DMCA was used by some companies to restrict consumer and third party use of products containing software, including smartphones, computers, motor vehicles, and home appliances. This ruling allows greater legal protection for consumers and third party companies to repair and diagnose rightfully owned technology products.

Answers to some frequently asked questions on this ruling can be found at www.copyright.gov/1201/2018/faqs.html.  General information on U.S. copyright laws is available at www.copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html.

Digital rights groups such as the Repair Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have issued their own responses regarding this ruling.