Proposed bill could force federal weather data offline

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Friday, April 22, 2005

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A bill introduced last week by Republican Rick Santorum in the US senate, S. 786, could prohibit National Weather Service from publishing free forecasts online.

This would have no effect on The National Hurricane Center as the bill exempts forecasts meant to protect "life and property."

"The weather service proved so instrumental and popular and helpful in the wake of the hurricanes. How can you make an argument that we should pull it off the Net now? What are you going to do, charge hurricane victims to go online, or give them a pop-up ad?" said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Barry Myers, executive vice president of AccuWeather a service that currently competes with National Weather Service free forecasts , said “the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers”.

Last year the NOAA eliminated a policy that had prohibited them from offering services that could be provided by the private industry.

Sources

References

The Bill: National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005

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