Good Neighbors. Great Lawyers.

Blog - Consumer Law

'Do not track' legislation could be Internet game changer

When Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced legislation this year that would establish a “Do Not Track List” for Internet marketers, countless consumers sighed, “It’s about time.” 

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5 reasons you should call your insurance company after a car accident

Many are reluctant to call their insurance company after an accident. Here's why they should call anyway.

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5 tips for choosing a great lawyer

Whether you need help with estate planning, a divorce or a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll want and need to have the right attorney in your corner.

A consumer guide to class-action lawsuits

Most consumers at one time or another have opened their mail to learn they are a member of a class-action lawsuit. Oftentimes the packets are bulky with several pages of legal language outlining the case and their rights. Intimidated by all the paper, many people simply throw the packets away. But by doing so, they may be discarding the opportunity for both justice and compensation.

Airport security: understanding the rules

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and for many Americans that means time to empty all your liquids into 3-ounce containers, squeeze them all into one quart-size bag, remove your shoes and subject yourself to your choice of a nude (albeit anonymous) photo of yourself or an intimate pat-down by a stranger.

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Alternative dispute resolution can save time and money

Considered cost-effective, fast, flexible and fair, ADR is the most popular method for resolving disputes in this region.


Attractive nuisances and recreational immunity: are you responsible?

A child wanders onto your property and is injured. Are you responsible?

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Augmented reality meets metal and glass: Poke-risks in a Poke-verse

Pokemon is nothing new. Since the late 90s, gamers have captured, trained and battled with hundreds of little creatures from the comfort of their couches. Pokemon has spawned anime and manga television series, a few dozen films and a lovely low-tech card trading game that cost unknown numbers of third graders stern reprimands during silent reading time. Now, the Pokemon franchise gives us some legal issues to consider.

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Bank accounts: can I withdraw all the money in joint account

I put my boyfriend’s name on my checking account, and he deposited his income tax refund in that account. A week later, he left me for another relationship. I withdrew all the money from the account before he could and wonder whether he has any rights in getting any of the money back.

Bankruptcy alternative: Chapter 128 helps Wisconsin debtors regroup, repay

Bankruptcy should be a last resort for people facing more debt than they can possibly repay. 

Bankruptcy won't erase student debt

Recent estimates suggest that about two-thirds of all college students take out loans to pay for college.

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Big YouTube Changes Could Spell Legal Trouble for Users

If you upload videos to YouTube, especially if you embed music in those videos, you'll want to make sure you're not hitting a sour note when it comes to copyright. These days, record labels and musical artists are working harder than ever to protect their assets, and you could be held liable if you make a copyright misstep.

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Billing disputes: tips for consumers

Communicating with the business should be your first step in any billing dispute.

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Building and remodeling: communication key to success

One of the greatest sources of stress with building or remodeling comes when contractors fail to meet your expectations.


Bullying: when should you call law enforcement?

The time to call police or a lawyer is when a student’s action has crossed a line.

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Buying vs leasing: understanding the pros and cons

Whether you're starting a new business or growing an existing one, you probably need equipment to get the job done.


Caitlyn Jenner: Making her transition legal

Fortunately for Caitlyn Jenner, becoming recognized legally as a woman should be a lot less painful than the surgeries she’s undergone, not to mention the public and private conversations she’s had with loved ones. Here are five legal steps to serve as a guide for transgender people in Wisconsin. 


Can you speak legalese? Test your knowledge of legal lingo [Quiz]

Take this quiz to gauge your knowledge of legal terms.

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Can you spot a scam? Take our quiz to find out.

It would seem with every new form of telecommunications comes a bevy of new ways for fraudsters to try to bilk you.


Changes to Financial Laws Possible in the Wake of Recent Election

In the wake of the recent election, many are speculating how changes in our nation’s highest levels of leadership will affect financial laws and regulations. 


Choosing an Attorney: Five Tips to Follow

Whether you need help with estate planning, a divorce or a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll want and need to have the right attorney in your corner.

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Concealed weapons in private businesses: What are the rules?

What are the rules about concealed weapons in a private business?

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Consent forms: do I give up all my legal rights by signing

With the new school year, I'm getting bombarded with parental consent and release forms. 

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Consider legal implications of at-home DNA tests

Experts warn that there may be unanticipated implications of at-home DNA tests, and potential legal issues.

Consumer Guide to Product Warranties

When you buy a new product, it’s only natural to expect a certain level of performance from it. Whether talking gizmos or gadgets, as a consumer, you have a right to goods that work, at least for a time.

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Dogs… What’s a good neighbor to do?

Dogs. It seems people love ‘em or hate ‘em. But when they bark all night or defecate on your lawn, we all tend to fall in the latter category.

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Driving with a cell phone: Wisconsin law clarified

Can you please clarify Wisconsin’s laws about cell phone use while driving? Can I text if I’m using voice controls?

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Drones and privacy: a legal storm is brewing

Originally used primarily for military efforts, drones now are used for surveillance by law enforcement, news coverage, photography, and a host of other of other purposes. But as drones become increasingly ubiquitous, privacy is becoming increasingly scarce. It’s a conflict that has the makings for a perfect storm in the American legal system.


Eight alternatives to foreclosure

They don't make as many headlines as they used to, but foreclosures still happen. If you find yourself coming up short on your mortgage, you do have alternatives to foreclosure.

Eight steps to protect yourself from tax identity theft

Sometimes waiting for your tax refund can feel like waiting for Christmas. 

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Even the best students can face truancy issues

It’s not uncommon for any student to experience truancy issues—even those earning straight-As

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Even the four best courtroom movies can't make the real-life cut

Courtrooms often are great backdrops for dramatic movie scenes and Oscar-worthy performances.

Few happy with new Internet regulations

With lines like "Save the Internet" and "Join the fight for Internet Freedom," the rhetoric surrounding network neutrality may lead some to believe their very basic freedoms of speech and information access are at stake. 


Fireworks: What's legal in Wisconsin?

Some would argue there is nothing more American than apple pie, mom and fireworks, especially around the Fourth of July.

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Five everyday legal tips to make life easier

Life can be messy. Thankfully, with a little legal planning, some of the messiest aspects of life can be minimized or prevented altogether. These five legal tips can help you preemptively smooth out some of the transitions and trials of life.

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Five steps to avoid online defamation

A generation ago, members of the press were pretty much the only people who had to worry about issues like defamation and libel. Today everyone online needs to think about it.

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Five tips for choosing a lawyer

Chances are at some point in your life, you'll need a lawyer. It is the nature of the complex world we live in that sometimes we need the guidance of an attorney to protect our interests. Whatever the reason, you want to make sure you get the caliber of representation you deserve. 

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Flag desecration: is it OK to wear clothes decorated with an old flag?

I have a pair of bell bottoms that I found at a thrift store with flares made from an old American flag. Is it considered flag desecration to wear them? 


For sale by owner: avoid common legal problems

With today’s do-it-yourself approach to many things home-related, it’s not uncommon for home sellers to take the for-sale-by-owner route.


Four cases that changed the NFL

Excitement is building for the 2015 NFL Super Bowl, and it’s a sure thing many of us will be watching on Feb. 1.

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Four tips for protecting privacy in the smart phone age

Smart phone technology has vastly changed the way we live. We can communicate with others in seconds, find directions to out-of-the-way places, take, post selfies to our favorite social platforms and so much more. But the technology has also endangered privacy in ways that would have been difficult for most of us to imagine, even as recently as five years ago.

Four Tips for Protecting Your Privacy on Smart Phones

While enlightening, the Wall Street Journal’s report last month exposing how some smart phone applications track users was also disappointing.


Fraud: Protect yourself from scams

It has never been easier for criminals to make a buck via consumer fraud—or for us to fall for these scams. 

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Gym memberships constitute legal contracts

I want to join a gym to help me get in shape for the new year, but I’ve heard so many horror stories about people who join and then can’t quit.


How can I stop someone from impersonating me online?

A friend of mine recently said she was surprised by one of my Facebook posts. I don’t have a Facebook page, so I couldn’t understand what she was talking about. She opened her account and showed me a page that had been created in my name with my photo and other personal information and had connected with several of my friends. How can I shut it down?

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How much do you REALLY know about presidential election laws?

We're just a couple months away from the U.S. presidential election, and while you may know what to do when you get in the voting booth, do you really know what happens once you leave it?

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Identity Theft Checklist

This checklist will help ensure that you're doing as much as possible to prevent identity theft.

Identity Theft: Consumers are own best weapon

Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in the country, affecting approximately 9-10 million Americans each year.

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Infographic shows statistics about dog bites

In tracking dog bite data throughout the year, the Centers for Disease Control have made some interesting discoveries.


Insta-trap: 5 ways Instagram can get you into legal trouble

What seems like it might be all in good fun could get you into an insta-trap of legal trouble. How can you avoid legal problems while Instagramming? By learning from the mistakes of others. 

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Intellectual property: protecting your ideas with copyrights, trademarks and patents

Most businesses at some point will want to keep their ideas from being used by others.

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Is it legal to drive with pets on your lap?

Do Wisconsin distracted driving laws prohibit unrestrained animal companions? La Crosse attorney David Pierce answers.

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It's OK to be a Grinch when it comes to holiday wine exchanges running on Facebook

It’s a fun idea, a holiday wine exchange, hitting the Facebook pages of wine lovers throughout the Coulee Region. But when you see it in your feed, we say it’s wise to be a Grinch and just keep on scrolling.

iTunes rules: what you're really agreeing to when you download

Many readers remember a simpler time when music came on vinyl, tape or at least a compact disc.

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Johns, Flaherty & Collins' top 3 all-time most popular blogs

We were surprised at what most people were looking for. Are you?

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Judge Judy versus small claims court: a battle for the real people's court

Our top six comparisons between Judge Judy and the real deal, better known to us as small claims court.

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Jury Duty: Do you have to go?

Often when people are called for jury duty, they have a number of reasons they don’t want to go: a big deadline coming up at work, child care issues, illness or just plain disinclination.

Landlord-Tenant Law Part 1: Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords

In a college town like La Crosse, Wis., it’s no surprise that one of every two residents lives in a rental property.

Landlord-Tenant Law Part 2: Rights and Responsibilities of Tenants

In a college town like La Crosse, Wis., it’s no surprise that one of every two residents lives in a rental property.

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Landlord-tenant law: Under what circumstances can a landlord keep a security deposit?

Knowing when you are entitled to keep a security deposit can be tricky without some advanced planning.


Legal advice pays off when buying/selling a home

For most of us, a house is our most expensive and significant purchase in life. If ever there is a time to call in professional help, this would be it.

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Legal Dilemma: Does workers comp cover mental health?

I know that workers’ compensation will cover physical injuries sustained while on the job, but will it also cover mental illness stemming from my workplace? 

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Legal Dilemma: Should I Respond to Class-Action Notice?

I received a notice of a class-action lawsuit against a company I’ve purchased from in the past. What should I do with it and how/when will I know if I qualify for compensation?

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Looking to rent vacation space on Airbnb? Here's what you need to know on the legal side (Part 2 of 2)

In what is now commonly known as the sharing economy, property owners and even tenants are renting their apartments, homes and other spaces to people in need of lodging, but before you book a room, consider these legal issues. (Part 2 of 2)

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Love hurts: your liability when your dog causes injury

In Wisconsin, the law essentially says a dog owner is liable whenever their animal companion injures or causes injury to a person or another animal.

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My ex says she has tenancy rights to my home

She says I should be the one to move.

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Need for photo release depends on intent

Understanding photo rights — when you can take them, when you can post or publish them and when you need a release form from the people in them.

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Online shopping safety guide a must-read

Ninety-six percent of American adults have shopped online at some point. If you'e among them, are you staying safe?


Parents should be concerned about Snapchat update

Young social media users are all about the new Snapchat feature announced last week. Here's why you should be all about discussing it with them.


Pharmaceutical Companies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers Under Microscope in Wake of Price-Fixing Allegations

While synthetic insulin hasn't changed much in the past 50 years, its price has: the cost has rise more than 150 percent in the past five years. 


Primer on abortion laws in Wisconsin

As with all public policy, Wisconsin laws related to abortions are subject to change.

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Property rights: approach nuisance neighbors with care

Whether you rent or own your home, chances are at some point you will encounter a problem with a neighbor. Noise and boundary issues are among the most common, but neighbor complaints can run the gamut from unpleasant odors and mosquito-infested bird baths to dilapidated fences and fierce pets. Whatever the case, nuisance laws provide your best shot at continuing to enjoy both your property and your neighbors.

Protect Your Credit Rating

The first step in protecting your credit rating is understanding how creditors decide whether to lend you money or what interest rate to charge you.

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Q&A: Do I really need a license for a simple raffle in Wisconsin?

I volunteer with the parent-teacher organization at my child’s school, and we’re planning a raffle-style fundraiser. One of the parents said we need a license from the state in order to conduct our raffle. Is that true? If it is, what steps do we need to take?

Rent-to-own contracts a dubious business practice

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, rent-to-own contracts have found their way into the American economy.

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Renting out your space via Airbnb? Consider these legal issues first. (Part 1 of 2)

The internet has made it easier than ever for people to rent out their property in whole or in part to traveler, but the issue can become sticky for both the property owner and the renter. (Part 1 of 2)

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Respect the rodents and defer to the dairy: scary laws in Wisconsin and beyond

Laws are written to protect the fundamental rights of citizens, and most laws aren’t scary unless you break them. Sometimes, however, local ordinances can get pretty specific…and a little weird.

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Restraining orders: when they are justified and how to proceed

A restraining order is a court order aimed at stopping someone from harassing you. 

Safe toys for the Holidays; choosing safe online games

It happens every year at this time, but still it somehow manages to sneak up on us. Yes, it’s holiday shopping season again, and it’s time for an annual reminder of how to make smart choices for your kids.


Scraping for new ideas: when is it considered plagiarism

Now that the dust has settled from the 2014 Wisconsin governor race, let’s talk about plagiarism.

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Service animals at work

Like any other requests surrounding disabilities, employers must treat seriously employee requests to bring service animals to work.

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Service Dogs Nothing to Sniff At [INFOGRAPHIC]

Want to know the difference between service animals and emotional support animals? How about signs of a true service animal? Or laws to protect service dogs? This infographic has answers.

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Severe weather season is here: What does your homeowner’s insurance cover?

Severe weather season is knocking on our door, and in our region, that means it’s time to review our insurance coverage.

Small claims court: five fallacies to understand

Small claims court can be a great resource for ordinary people seeking civil justice. It’s quicker and less expensive than the usual court process, yet still yields legally enforceable judgments.

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Social media legal tips: 5 things every social media user should know

Without a doubt, social media has introduced a whole new world of opportunity for citizen journalists, bloggers and others looking to share their stories and ideas in the public arena. Unfortunately, it’s also introduced a host of ways to violate intellectual property laws.  


Social media policies: why you can't yell "fire" on the internet

Attorney Ellen Frantz received a call years ago from a man fired because of a photo posted of him and others on a coworker’s Facebook page. 


Social media: how can I protect my content?

With Pinterest, blogs and all the other social media out there, I want credit for my photos that are reposted. How can I protect my work?


Social Security disability process tricky

About two out of every three SSDI claim applications are initially denied.

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Student rights: yes, they have them

Students’ rights are no different from anyone else’s, but they may be balanced sometimes with the needs of the educational system and its mission. 


Students face academic - and legal - consequences when plagiarizing

The electronic age has brought easy access to a wealth of information on topics as diverse as history, science, art, homemaking, crafts, medicine, parenting and, yes, the law.

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Supreme Court's order blocking Voter ID law may mean litte in overall scheme

With just over three weeks until the election, the United States Supreme Court yesterday stayed Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law from going into effect.

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Take Control of Online Privacy

As the March 1 effective date for Google’s new privacy policy nears, increasing numbers of consumers are buzzing about how it will affect personal privacy online.

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The drone's gray zone: who owns the air

With the Consumer Technology Association estimating more than 700,000 drones were sold last year alone, chances are drones will soon be buzzing the skies near you. But what happens when a drone flies above your property? 



The power of mediation: getting parties to settle out of court

When mediation lawyer Brent Smith negotiates a case, he moves from room to room, listening and sharing offers and counter offers. One goal of mediation is faster and less expensive resolutions to legal problems.

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Think you understand small claims court? Take our quiz and find out.

Test your knowledge! How well do you understand small claims court? Answer the multiple choice questions below to find out.

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Three bizarre social media lawsuits

We've blogged many times about the legal implications of social media...

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Three tips for smart phone safety

With families’ busy schedules today, it’s often easier for everyone when the kids, like the parents, have a cell phone.

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Time-Share Property Pitfalls: What to Consider Before You Buy

Picture this: you’re on vacation in a beautiful place, a resort employee buys you lunch, and at the height of your hedonism, you purchase a time-share. Just like that, your once-in-a-lifetime becomes once-a-year.

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Tinder under fire as user files class-action lawsuit

Earlier this month, a California man filed a class-action lawsuit against the scorching-hot Tinder online dating app.

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Top 3 liabilities of summer

Summertime in Wisconsin is magical. Residents emerge from an interminable hibernation to enjoy the beauty, recreation and many celebrations dotting our region. But it isn’t all fun and games. Summer in Wisconsin is a prime time for injury-related accidents—many of which can easily be avoided and many of which carry big liability issues when they aren’t.

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Top 5 legal tips for traveling abroad

Before you begin your trip, it’s important to brush up on some basic legal tips.

Top three tips for choosing safe toys for the holidays

For those with children in their lives, one of the best parts of the holiday season is seeing little ones’ eyes light up with excitement over a new toy.

Underage drinking could cost parents

If you have a teenager, chances are you’re gearing up for prom and graduation season.  But if alcohol becomes part of those special events, both you and your teen stand to get in serious legal trouble.


Understanding the process of small claims court

A basic guide to Wisconsin small claims court.

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Weird Halloween laws to make you cackle

From costumes, to masks, to trick-or-treat tort, there's no shortage of laws addressing all things Halloween.


Weird Wisconsin laws make unwitting criminals

You probably fancy yourself a law-abiding citizen, but in Wisconsin, there are several laws still on the books that you may be breaking without knowing. 

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What NOT to Wear to Court

Wearing the wrong thing to court can decide your fate before you even see the judge.

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What qualifies as defamation?

Defamation is a tricky area, particularly as it pits harm to one’s reputation against free speech.

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What the Supreme Court's top five decisions this week mean for Wisconsin residents

It’s been a busy few days for the U.S. Supreme Court, with a number of big-case decisions—and, in more than one matter, indecision. Here’s the rundown on the top five and what they mean for Wisconsin residents.

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What you can learn from Facebook's latest fumble

It’s happened again. Facebook is in the news for raising ire — this time for allowing researchers to manipulate users’ newsfeeds to gauge emotional responses to positive or negative posts.


Who can (legally) be on new $10 bill?

The United States Treasury will announce the new face of the ten dollar bill soon. The new bill will be enhanced to discourage counterfeiting, and to make identification easier for the blind and visually impaired. The most anticipated change, however, will be the person featured on the bill.


Why so many robocalls when you're on the Do-Not-Call List?

Why are you getting so many robocalls when you're on the Do-Not-Call List? The answer is technology, according to attorney Peder Arneson. “With autodialers, companies can send out thousands of calls a minute and they don’t bother checking the No-Call List,” he said. “Not all are illegal.”

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Wisconsin drone legislation continues to evolve

As ownership of drones explodes in popularity, lawmakers are working to bring regulations up to date to manage the implications and risks.

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Wisconsin gerrymandering case is complicated

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will take up the state’s partisan gerrymandering case, a case with the potential for significant ramifications for state legislatures throughout the country.

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Wisconsin gun laws similar to other states

Wisconsin courts have long allowed gun owners to openly carry handguns but not concealed weapons.

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You and Your Social Security Number: When to Use it; When to Refuse It

As numbers go, it’s probably the most important one you’ll ever own.