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Comcast Deal to Take Center Stage

Welcome to National Journal's Tech Edge, a morning tip sheet with the news you need in technology policy, featuring a roundup of the best coverage and exclusive tips for the day ahead. Got this by forward? Sign up at 

By Alex Brown (@AlexBrownNJ), Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan), Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso), and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)


TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Comcast is expected to soon submit its public interest filing to the FCC for its planned purchase of buy Time Warner Cable. The Senate Judiciary is expected to mark-up patent legislation on Tuesday. Edward Snowden is about to earn an award for "truth-telling." Patent stakeholders remain in wait for a manager's amendment from the Senate Judiciary Committee as final lobbying efforts invade Capitol Hill.


COMCAST BATTLE HEATS UP: The bell is about to ring in the fight over the massive cable merger. Comcast is expected to formally file with the FCC this week to buy Time Warner Cable, which will prompt the agency's official review of the deal. Officials will begin to dig through company documents and communications to determine whether the deal is in the public's interest. The filing will be Comcast's official argument for why the deal should get approved, and consumer advocacy groups will fire back with their own public campaigns and FCC filings.

Capitol Hill will begin to dig into the deal with a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. Sen. Al Franken has made it clear where he stands on the deal (he's not a fan), but the hearing will be an important opportunity for other senators to weigh in. Congress has no official role in approving or blocking the deal, but you don't have to be a cynic to acknowledge that political pressure influences regulators.


STILL NO MANAGER'S AMENDMENT ON PATENTS: The weekend came and went without the Senate Judiciary posting any manager's amendment to its site, but expect something to be released today or early tomorrow. Committee aides remain confident that panel will be ready to markup Chairman Patrick Leahy's patent-litigation reform bill at Tuesday's 2:30 p.m. meeting.

Meanwhile, the week starts with stakeholders making their last-ditch lobbying pushes ahead of tomorrow's meeting. The Main Street Patent Coalition is on the Hill this morning, as are more than 100 senior IBM leaders, here as part of the company's annual spring fly-in.

NYT WEIGHS IN ON PATENTS: Appearing in today's paper, The New York Times editorial board sounds off on the need for patent reform, with specific focus on customer stay and fee shifting. On the latter issue, the board notes the difference between the House-passed Innovation Act, which adopts a "reasonably justified" standard, and Leahy's proposal in the Senate, which offers judges more discretion.

"Granting judges more freedom to award fees in patent cases can reduce the number of abusive cases," the editorial reads. "But Congress should be careful not to adopt a standard that is so tough that it effectively closes the courthouse door to small inventors, universities and other patent holders."


SNOWDEN TO WIN 'TRUTH-TELLER' AWARD: The Ridenhour Prizes will announce later this morning that the fugitive leaker, along with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, will be awarded the 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for "exposing the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional bulk collection of the communications of millions of people." Poitras was chosen by the over other journalists in part because the left-leaning group "feel(s) that her contribution has not been adequately recognized by the American media." Poitras, along with Glenn Greenwald, met with Snowden in Hong Kong before his initials leaks were published last June.


OBAMA TRIES TO ASSUAGE CHINA'S CYBER FEARS: In the weeks leading up to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's visit to Beijing, the Obama administration has been going to great lengths to allay China's anxieties on cyberattacks. (David Sanger, NYT)

TECHAMERICA HIRES CYBER STAFFER: Michael Spierto will be the new director of cybersecurity policy for TechAmerica, the group announced Friday. Spierto was an aide for the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies.

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GENACHOWSKI WORRIED ABOUT INTERNET TRANSITION: "Global" Internet governance could endanger freedom of speech, according to an op-ed by former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and scholar Gordon Goldstein. (Genachowski/Goldstein, WSJ)

SILICON VALLEY SPLIT OVER MOZILLA OUSTER: "Some, especially a dating website that had urged its users to boycott Mozilla's popular Firefox web browser, cheered [Mozilla CEO] Eich's resignation after less than two weeks as CEO of the nonprofit software company. Others viewed him as a victim and called his critics intolerant of people with different views." (Gerry Shih, Reuters)

HOW TECH COMPANIES LOST OBAMACARE: "Yet as Obamacare's supporters and opponents sniped at each other, one group stayed above the fray: the tech companies that actually built the dysfunctional health-exchange websites." (Olga Kharif, Businessweek)

HOW THE NAVY IS TAKING DRONES TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Jeff Bezos may be creating drones that deliver packages to front-door steps, but Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder is designing drones that deliver supplies to remote locations and carry out rescue missions. (Dion Nissenbaum, WSJ)

APPLE, SAMSUNG TRIALS REVEALS APPLE'S ADVERTISING WOES: Jurors at Apple's patent trial with Samsung got an inside look at the company's struggle to fight back against Samsung's negative advertising campaign. (Rosenblatt/Satariano, Bloomberg)

ITALY FINES GOOGLE: The company is continuing to pay the price for collecting Wi-Fi data with its Street View cars. (Stephanie Bodoni, Bloomberg)

HBO'S 'SILICON VALLEY' TAKES REVENGE ON THE NERDS: With the premiere of the new HBO show lampooning Silicon Valley startup culture, laughing at the tech world is suddenly the coolest thing to do. (Nolan Feeney, The Atlantic)



  • The Internet Innovation Alliance will host a discussion on Capitol Hill with former Reps. Jack Fields and Rick Boucher on modernizing the 1996 Telecom Act at 9:30 a.m.


  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a markup of patent legislation at 2:30 p.m.

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will deliver keynote remarks at the National Association of Broadcaster's annual show in Las Vegas at 12 p.m. EDT, and the other four FCC commissioners will speak on a panel at 5:30 p.m. EDT.

  • The House Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing and Trade will hold a hearing on patent demand letters at 10 a.m.

  • The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will host an event on the economic impact of big data at 11:30 a.m.


  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger at 10 a.m.

  • The Computer & Communications Industry Association will hold their annual Washington Caucus, with remarks from NTIA head Larry Strickling, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill, Sen. John Cornyn, and Democratic Reps. Eshoo, Lofgren, and Matsui.


  • The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the Internet will hold a hearing on Internet governance at 9 a.m.


  • The Atlantic Council will host an event on Bitcoin at 10:30 a.m.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

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