Capitol Digest: September the month of voter registration, Lenovo settles suit with state, a reminder to move crashed vehicle out of traffic

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VOTER REGISTRATION MONTH: September is National Voter Registration Month, and Secretary of State Paul Pate is encouraging eligible Iowans to participate. Anyone who is 17.5 years old is eligible to register.

“Iowa is already one of the best states in the nation for voter registration and voter participation, but we can do even better,” Pate said.

Voter registration in Iowa was made quicker, easier and more accessible by the implementation of online voter registration in 2016. Pate partnered with the Iowa Department of Transportation to launch the system, which 70,000 Iowans used to register to vote last year. The online voter registration portal can be accessed at sos.iowa.gov/registertovote.

Other ways to register include at the polls on Election Day and visiting sos.iowa.gov to download a voter registration form that can be filled out and returned to your county auditor’s office.

Forms also are available at auditor’s offices, DOT offices, military recruiting stations, and public assistance agencies around the state.

Voters also may check their registration information online at sos.iowa.gov/voterregistration and sign up for election alerts and reminders by visiting MyIowaVote.com.

STEER IT, CLEAR IT: The Iowa departments of Public Safety and Transportation are reminding Iowans of the “Steer it, Clear it” law that took effect July 1.

House File 313 requires drivers of vehicles involved in a crash where there are no serious injuries to move the vehicles out of the driving lanes of traffic.

The change was made to improve the safety of those involved in the crash, as well as others on the roadway. There are about 55,000 crashes in Iowa every year. For every minute a lane is blocked, the risk of a secondary crash increases by roughly 2.8 percent.

LENOVO SETTLEMENT: Personal computer manufacturer Lenovo Inc. has agreed to a $3.5 million settlement with 32 states, including more than $65,000 to Iowa, over allegations it violated state consumer protection laws by pre-installing software on laptop computers that made consumers’ personal information vulnerable to hackers.

The payment to Iowa will go to the state’s consumer education and litigation fund.

In August 2014, Lenovo began selling laptop PCs that contained preinstalled ad software called VisualDiscovery. VisualDiscovery disclosed itself to consumers through a one-time pop-up window the first time consumers visited a shopping website. Unless consumers affirmatively opted out, VisualDiscovery would be enabled on their computers.

The states allege that VisualDiscovery operated by acting as a “man in the middle” that stood between consumers’ browsers and all internet websites they visited — including encrypted sites. This technique allowed the software to see all of a user’s sensitive personal information and allowed for the collection of consumer information, including sensitive communications with encrypted websites.

In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement requires Lenovo to change its consumer disclosures to require consumers’ affirmative consent to using the software on their device and to provide a reasonable and effective means for consumers to opt-out, disable or remove the software.

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