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FCC Fires Warning Shot Over Wireless Net Neutrality FCC Fires Warning Shot Over Wireless Net Neutrality

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FCC Fires Warning Shot Over Wireless Net Neutrality

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

TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is "deeply troubled" by a Verizon plan to slow Internet traffic. A narrow patent-reform bill in the House earned an endorsement from an unlikely ally often accused of being one of the most egregious patent trolls in the country. Sens. Edward Markey and Orrin Hatch introduced a measure to bolster privacy protections on student data. And Rep. Howard Coble has an idea for who should be the next director of the Patent and Trademark Office.



WHEELER QUESTIONS VERIZON OVER THROTTLING: The FCC chairman demanded more information about Verizon's plan to slow 4G LTE data speeds during peak periods for customers with unlimited data plans. Wheeler suggested the policy may run afoul of terms Verizon agreed to as part of a 2008 airwave auction.

The letter could also be a sign that Wheeler is considering tougher net-neutrality regulations for wireless carriers. The FCC chief is expressing concern about how wireless network management could hurt consumers, and he may want to give the FCC some tools to crack down on future abuses.


"I take it as a signal that Chairman Wheeler is taking wireless seriously," said Michael Weinberg, a vice president at Public Knowledge.

PATENT TROLLS HAVE A NEW STRATEGY TO KILL PATENT REFORM: It's simple: Support patent reform. Intellectual Ventures, the poster boy of patent trolling for many reform advocates, is now publicly supporting Rep. Lee Terry's TROL Act, which aims to strengthen the FTC's policing of frivolous demand letters. But the endorsement amounts to little more than a low-risk PR stunt in the eyes of many reformers, who see the TROL Act as a weak bill that distracts from broader, more substantive measures like the Innovation Act. (Volz, NJ)

SENATE INTRODUCES STUDENT PRIVACY BILL: Sens. Edward Markey and Orrin Hatch introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at ramping up privacy protections for sensitive student data. As schools move online for everything from testing to administration, concerns are growing that student's data, like grades and attendance records, could fall into the wrong hands in the event of a data breach.

The bipartisan bill would beef up security requirements for private companies that handle student data, limit the amount of personally identifiable information that these companies can hold, and give parents the right to obtain their child's data.


MICHELLE LEE FOR NEXT DIRECTOR OF PTO? During a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Rep. Howard Coble took ample time to commend Michelle Lee for her leadership as deputy director of the Patent and Trademark Office, which has been devoid of an official director since David Kappos stepped down in February of last year. "We have enjoyed you in your tenure over there," the North Carolina Republican told Lee, at times appearing to indicating she would be a good fit to run the PTO permanently.

That's a sentiment that a number of patent-reform stakeholders are willing to get behind. "I agree [with Coble] that she would be a great director," said Matt Levy, patent counsel with CCIA. Another patent lobbyist said Lee would likely be a "relatively noncontroversial" pick for director—something the administration may be looking for after its rumored selection of Phil Johnson prompted a swift backlash.


LOBBYING UPDATES: T-Mobile hired Malloy McDaniel, former senior advisory to Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Kristi Remington, former DOJ deputy assistant attorney general, with Blank Rome Government Relations to lobby on telecommunications issues according to a new lobbying registration. Visa hired the lobbying firm Lugar Hellman to lobby on homeland security issues.

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SENATE INVESTIGATION UNCOVERS 'WIDESPREAD' BOGUS MOBILE CHARGES: Mobile-phone scams have cost Americans hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several years, according to a new report from the Senate Commerce Committee. (Ryan, NJ)

CELL-PHONE UNLOCKING BILL WON'T DO MUCH: The bill won unanimous support on Capitol Hill, but it'll have limited consequences for consumers. (Sasso, NJ)

HOUSE PANEL PASSES LOCATION-TRACKING BILL: The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Kelsey Smith Act, which would allow police to access cell-phone location data in an emergency. (Kate Tummarello, The Hill)

NO DETAILS EMERGING ON SPRINT, T-MO MERGER: Maybe it's because executives are on vacation. (John McDuling, Quartz)

MARTHA STEWART LIKES DRONES. A LOT: She wrote an ode to unmanned flying vehicles. (Time)

E.U. SETS SIGHTS ON GOOGLE'S MOBILE SOFTWARE: The EU's antritrust regulators are reportedly building a case against Google for abusing its massive market share of its Android operating system to promote its own apps. (Chee/Oreskovic, Reuters) 

IMAGE ANALYST WARNS OF FACIAL-RECOGNITION POTENTIAL: As governments data-mine online photos, new technologies will help them turn previously unidentified people into suspects—and threaten privacy. (MIT Technology Review)

TOR WARNS IT WAS ATTACKED: The online privacy service says that users trying to reach hidden sites may have been identified by researchers. (Joseph Menn and Jim Finkle, Reuters)

WORLD CUP ASSISTS TWITTER'S SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS: A soccer-boosted bump in traffic helped the social-media company up its revenue 124 percent. (Vindu Goel, NYT)

THE EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANTLESS CELL-SEARCH BAN: Border patrol agents can seize and search almost anything, with little reason for doing so, thanks to constitutional exceptions. (Brian Fung, WaPo)

WIKIPEDIA TO ACCEPT BITCOIN DONATIONS: Because why not? (Noah Rayman, Time)


  • A House Science Subcommittee will hold a hearing on technology and the U.S. border crisis at 10 a.m.
  • Microsoft will host a breakfast discussion on post-secondary STEM education at 8:30 a.m. 
  • FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright will speak at a Tech Freedom lunch on "Where is the FTC heading on Digital Consumer Protection?" at 11:45 a.m.
  • The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will hold a noon discussion on how IT is creating a new era of disruptive innovation.

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

Sign up form for the newsletter