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The Regulatory Week in Review: February 26, 2016

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IN THE NEWS

  • After the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) filed a motion to compel Apple’s compliance with a court order—which requires that Apple help create a “backdoor” into the one of the alleged San Bernardino assailant’s locked phones, effectively allowing the FBI to bypass some of the phone’s key security features in order to unlock it—Apple fired back, filing a motion to vacate the order in which it argued that the FBI’s demands would “open the floodgates” to all but limitless Government access to citizens’ personal information, and ultimately would “undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.”
  • In an 89-4 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Duke University cardiologist and clinical researcher Dr. Robert Califf as the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner—a confirmation that had been stalled for months due to what some senators argued would be Califf’s failure to address the FDA’s allegedly overly-lenient approach to prescription painkillers in light of his background.
  • Ahead of the referendum where UK citizens will decide if the United Kingdom will continue to be a member state of the European Union, the Cabinet Office announced that the European Union agreed to the UK’s proposals for EU reforms, including to lower small businesses’ regulatory costs in an effort to increase entrepreneurship through a requirement that the European Commission assess the regulatory costs of legislation every year and determine if any of that legislation can be repealed.
  • The Surface Transportation Board (STB) added thirty days to the comment deadline for its proposed rule that would shift how the STB interprets Amtrak’s priority on railroad tracks over freight trains from an “absolute preference” to a “systemic, global approach” that would enable freight trains to receive priority in some instances—a proposal that Amtrak reportedly stated “ignores the clear, plain and unambiguous words of the statute.”
  • As the April 18 tax filing deadline approaches, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published its 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list that provides common scams related to taxes, including fraudulent IRS emails that are used to transmit viruses to an individual’s computer when accessed or to steal an individual’s information through a fake IRS website—a scam that the IRS stated has increased this year by approximately 400%.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • In his recent BloombergView column, Professor Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law Schoolsupported calorie labels in restaurants. Sunstein explained that calories labels help overweight people reduce their weight, and argued that there is reason to be confident in these policies despite some negative preliminary findings.
  • Donald Marron, a fellow at the Urban Institute, and Adele Morris, a fellow at the Brookings Institutionauthored a paper on how government should use the revenue raised from carbon taxes. The paper recommends that carbon tax revenue be used to reduce other taxes and provide support to low income households and coal workers who may be adversely impacted by the carbon tax.



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