Zack Christenson | All Articles

Zack Christenson
Zack Christenson
Research Fellow, American Consumer Institute
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      Zack Christenson

      Zack Christenson is a research fellow for the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, a nonprofit educational and research institute.

States Should Lower Cell Phone Taxes

Attendees use cell phones to capture the presentation of the Parkchoonmoo 2014 Fall/Winter collection during New York Fashion Week  February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: FASHION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX18I6M

Taxes on wireless telephone services across the country have reached a staggering percentage of consumer bills. Currently, consumers in 7 states pay over 20 percent in taxes on their wireless bills, according to an analysis done by the Tax Foundation, with consumers in 28 states paying over 15 percent. Taking into account all 50 states, the average consumer pays 17 percent in taxes on their wireless bill. This tax bill dwarfs the average sales tax across the country, with consumers paying a rate nearly two and a half times the national average for sales tax.

Consumers Have No Time For Flight Delays

11:36 AM 11/24/2014

It’s that time of the year, when millions of Americans head home or to visit family for the holidays, taking to the skies and roads to fight traffic and congestion in the name of holiday spirit. Over 24 million people are expected to fly over the Thanksgiving holiday, up 1.5 percent from last year. With all of these people taking to the skies, air traffic congestion and delays will most likely be commonplace over the next weeks, at a point in history where flight delays are already at a 20-year high.

Seven Myths About Net Neutrality Regulation

2:39 PM 11/18/2014

After years of being the issue that only “techies” and interest groups cared about, last week President Obama brought the net neutrality debate onto center stage. In his address, the president called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify Internet service providers (ISPs) as a public utility. This would likely change the face of the Internet, and set the stage for pages of new policymaking. But the arguments for using a public utility framework to impose net neutrality regulations are being propped up by a host of myths. To clarify any misunderstanding, here are seven popular myths debunked:

Can The DOJ Seize Emails From American Companies Stored Anywhere On Earth?

11:47 AM 09/19/2014

Microsoft is currently in a legal battle with the Department of Justice over its refusal to turn over emails that the DOJ claims are pertinent to a criminal investigation. The emails are from a defendant who is involved in a narcotics case. The problem is that they are held on a server in Ireland and reside with a foreign business unit of Microsoft. Now Congress may be getting into fixing this problem.

The Consumer Costs Of Net Neutrality

10:43 AM 05/29/2014

In a rare moment of transparency and true representative governance, FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler spent a day in front of elected officials. At a recent hearing before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Wheeler was subject to a fair amount of criticism, most of which revolved around his recently proposed new rules to enforce Net Neutrality.

We need new laws to protect student privacy

11:16 AM 04/24/2014

As technology improves, more and more of our data are being collected for a variety of reasons — both good and bad. This data could be collected for reporting and analysis to make products better, for basic services like email or cloud storage, or for sales and marketing purposes.

Ticketmaster’s paperless ticketing is a loss for consumers

5:06 PM 03/21/2014

Paperless ticketing is a relatively new concept in the live events space, one that’s been increasingly implemented more and more over the years — from theaters to sporting events to concerts. In some cases, this appears to add a level of convenience to consumer lives — the need to remember your tickets or the worry of losing them is eliminated. While this may seem fine, there are many pitfalls to this new system that can sometimes leave the consumer worse off than being able to hold a traditional ticket.

Is the U.S. really lagging behind in broadband speeds? Probably not

10:55 AM 02/28/2014

It’s a largely held thought that broadband around the world is much better, faster and cheaper than it is in the United States. You see reports in the media about how the U.S. can’t keep up in broadband services, or that the U.S. ranks low on broadband speed tests. These reports are usually used as an indictment against broadband providers, and used to lobby for more government regulation of the Internet or even for government-run broadband programs.

The Obamacare website catastrophe could make or break his presidency

12:06 PM 10/23/2013

The Obama Administration’s legacy will be built on a single policy initiative. And over the past two weeks, we’ve seen the digital side of it stubbornly and painfully take its first breaths. Since it launched on October 1st, the digital rollout of Obamacare has been nothing short of disastrous.

The American Dream depends on patent reform

12:03 PM 10/09/2013

Thousands of people every year travel to America in an attempt to live the American Dream. At the core of the American Dream, at least for many entrepreneurs, is the United States patent system. Patents are what help our economy run, and they produce benefits for the consumer as well.

Discriminatory wireless taxation

3:59 PM 06/11/2013

The House today re-introduced the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, a bill that promises to end the skyrocketing rate of taxation on wireless phone bills at the state and local level.