TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: The Senate Intelligence Committee will vote on cybersecurity legislation that has privacy advocates worried. The FCC announced the teams that will review the two major mergers. Tech CEOs support FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to upgrade WiFi in schools, but Commissioner Michael O'Rielly wants to make sure the commission doesn't increase the fees on consumers' phone bills.
SENATE PANEL TO VOTE ON CYBER BILL: The Senate Intelligence Committee will mark up the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act behind closed doors at 2:30 p.m. today. The House passed the counterpart bill, CISPA, last year, and the clock is ticking for the Senate to take up the legislation before the end of the session.
But the draft bill from Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and ranking member Saxby Chambliss has reignited opposition from privacy groups and Internet activists, who rallied against the House version of the bill. An aide to Sen. Ron Wyden, a privacy supporter and Intelligence Committee member, said the senator has serious concerns with the legislation.
Anxiety over NSA spying may mean senators will be especially reluctant to vote for any legislation that could give the agency access to even more personal information. The committee's votes today on the bill and any proposed amendments could be an indicator of how concerned senators are with the privacy issues. Feinstein may hope that fear of cyberattacks will trump privacy concerns with enough senators—or perhaps she will attempt to link the cyber bill to NSA reform on the floor.
SNOWDEN UNDERMINES PCLOB'S DEFENSE OF NSA SPYING: Just when it seemed the NSA had finally scored a victory for its surveillance programs, Edward Snowden again crashed the party. Privacy advocates say the fugitive's newest leak is in part a rebuke to the privacy board's conclusions last week that surveillance under Section 702 is legal and effective and calls into question the completeness of its review.
Liza Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said there is a "discrepancy" between the two reports and Snowden's documents suggest the collection of American information is deliberate and broad in scope than the PCLOB report's conclusion. (Volz, NJ)
FCC NAMES MERGER REVIEW TEAMS: The FCC is gearing up to investigate the two massive mergers before it. General counsel Jonathan Sallet will head the steering committee in charge of coordinating the reviews of both mergers.
FCC attorney Hillary Burchuk, a former DOJ antitrust lawyer, will lead the review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable transaction. The proposed AT&T-DirecTV merger will be reviewed by a team led by Jamillia Ferris, a partner at Hunton & Williams and former DOJ antitrust attorney.
Northwestern University law professor William Rogerson will be the senior economist on the Comcast deal. In an investor note, Guggenheim analyst Paul Gallant notes that Rogerson wrote a paper in 2010 criticizing Comcast's bid for NBC-Universal. "So Chairman Wheeler's selection of Mr. Rogerson may signal that the deal will encounter some skepticism from a senior member of the review team," Gallant writes, adding that he still predicts both deals will win approval.
MORE DETAILS ON WHEELER'S VISIT TO SILICON VALLEY: During his visit to Silicon Valley to talk about net neutrality two weeks ago, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told a group of tech leaders that it would be "politically more difficult" to reclassify broadband as a common carrier. Wheeler indicated he did not believe Title II would ban paid prioritization, according to an ex parte filing from Paul Sieminski, general counsel for Automattic and one of the meeting's participants.
According to Sieminski's filing, many of the tech executives urged Wheeler to reclassify broadband as Title II–the "correct policy"–rather than focus on "what's easiest to do in Washington, DC."
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Ashley, Senior Media Associate
O'RIELLY URGES FCC TO KEEP SPENDING IN CHECK: Increasing spending on Universal Service Fund programs represents "an ever growing strain on [the average American's] pocketbook," Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly wrote in a blog post Monday.
O'Rielly said he supports "modernizing" E-Rate but that any increase in the program's size should come from cuts to other USF programs—not increasing fees on consumers' phone bills. Wheeler is still negotiating with the other commissioners to ensure he has the votes for his E-Rate proposal.
DEMAND LETTER BILL SET FOR THURSDAY MARKUP: Just one week after introducing a discussion draft, Rep. Lee Terry is ready to barrel ahead with his bill designed to curtail predatory demand letters. The Republican chairman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Trade has scheduled a markup of the legislation, which would increase transparency requirements for demand letters, for Thursday at 10 a.m. (Opening statements will be heard Wednesday at 4 p.m.) The bill also affirms the power of the FTC and state attorneys general to bring charges against companies that send frivolous letters.
ZUCKERBERG: TIME TO BRING THE WHOLE WORLD ONLINE: The Facebook founder says it's essential that everyone has access to the Internet—and that it's affordable. (WSJ)
U.S. ARRESTS RUSSIAN ON HACKING CHARGES IN GUAM: Roman Valerevich Seleznez is accused of hacking U.S. cash register systems from 2009-2011, stealing hundreds of thousands of credit cards numbers. (Nicole Perlroth, NYT)
ZUCKERBERG RALLIES IN SUPPORT OF E-RATE PROPOSAL: Reed Hastings and George Lucas are also among a group of CEOs who have rallied in support of Wheeler's plan to upgrade WiFi in schools.
THAT FIREWORKS DRONE VIDEO IS TOTALLY ILLEGAL: The stunning video of a drone flying through explosions in the sky violates a number of regulations. (Brown, NJ)
GOOGLE'S RUSH TO BEAT AMAZON: Google is accelerating the development of its Shopping Express in a push to compete with Amazon and reclaim lost advertising revenue. (Jason Del Rey, Re/Code)
THOMAS JEFFERSON'S 'OVERSTATED' OPPOSITION TO PATENTS: The Free State Foundation writes in a new paper today that Thomas Jefferson's views on intellectual property are often misunderstood and misused. Here's their take.
TAYLOR SWIFT WEIGHS IN ON TECH AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY: "Music is art, and art is important and rare…Valuable things should be paid for," Swift writes in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. (WSJ)
FACEBOOK BEATS THE FBI AT FACIAL RECOGNITION: The social-media network has more photos and context to work with—and now the government wants access to Facebook's technology. (Russell Brandom, The Verge)
SOME STATES HAVE REALLY FAST INTERNET: If ranked globally, Washington, D.C. would be ranked next to Switzerland for its zippy speeds. (Ben Richmond, Motherboard)
CREDIT-CARD THEFT GETS TRICKIER: Thieves are now using super-thin "skimmers" to read and steal data from a credit card's magnetic stripe—and they are hard to detect. (Brian Krebs)
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I read the Tech Edge every morning."
Ashley, Senior Media Associate