House approves measure that bans phone switching
The House of Delegates unanimously approved a bill yesterday aimed at protecting consumers from telephone "slamming" and "jamming" -- having their phone company switched or their service changed without their consent -- and sent the measure to the Senate.
The legislation would prohibit switching a customer's telephone company or adding phone service options -- such as call waiting or toll-free numbers -- without authorization. Customers would not be liable for any charges if the unauthorized changes are discovered and revoked within 30 days.
The Public Service Commission would be empowered to impose fines of up to $1,000 per violation. The Senate has approved a different bill addressing the same practices, which have generated thousands of complaints from Maryland phone customers.
Bill allows police to collect DNA from violent criminals
Legislation that would authorize the state police to collect DNA samples from violent criminals won final approval from the House yesterday, 118-19, though some delegates complained the measure smacked of "Big Brother." The bill now goes to the Senate.
Police collect DNA samples from people convicted of sexual offenses, and the bill would let authorities take samples from those found guilty of murder, robbery or assault.
Critics worried that the genetic information might be misused. Supporters contend that DNA samples provide more reliable identification than fingerprints. They also noted that the tests have been used to clear as well as convict suspects.