Welcome to the National Journal's Tech Edge, a morning tipsheet with the news you need in technology policy, featuring a round-up of the best coverage and exclusive tips for the day ahead. Got this by forward? Sign up at http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech-edge
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The Senate Judiciary is holding its third educational briefing on patents as the committee continues to chart a course toward reform. Staffers will hear about current avenues to challenge low-quality patents from a number of varied software interests. The FCC moved ahead with plans to mandate text-to-911 capabilities, but Wheeler and Co. still have the Internet holding its breath to see how they will act on net neutrality. Obama has picked a familiar name to become his next NSA director in March. Nancy Pelosi appeared on The Daily Show last night to discuss, in surprising detail, government's IT procurement challenges and why the Obamacare site launch failed. And the FAA has put an end to the short-lived art of beer-by-drone delivery.
GET TO KNOW THE NSA'S NEXT BOSS: Leaks surfaced at the start of the week, but now it's official: Obama has chosen Vice Adm. Michael Rogers (yes, he shares a name House Intelligence chairman, a prominent NSA defendant) to take over for Gen. Keith Alexander in March. Rogers has expertise in designing weapons for cyberwarfare and "no public track record in addressing the kinds of privacy concerns that have put the agency under a harsh spotlight." Obama also plans to appoint Richard Ledgett as the next deputy director of the NSA. (Sanger/Shanker, NYT)
PATENT BRIEFINGS ON TAP IN SENATE: Judiciary staffers will sit down today for their third round of educational meetings, capping off a busy week in patent reform that included a call to action from Obama during the State of the Union and competing letters sent Thursday to Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley voicing point-counterpoint views on a controversial proposal to expand "covered business method" review at the PTO. Aides say the meeting--the third of four scheduled--will examine existing patent-quality programs in place under the 2011 America Invents Act, including the status of current CBM review capabilities. Leahy also wants a chance to discuss the different bills members have out. The final briefing is scheduled for early February. (Volz, NJ)
NET NEUTRALITY PLAN SOON: The tech world is hanging on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's every word of to learn what he plans to do after an appeals court struck down the agency's net neutrality regulations. On several occasions, Wheeler has touted the benefits of a "case-by-case" approach to enforcement, which sounds like he is leaning away from regulating broadband Internet as a common carrier service.
But speaking after the FCC's meeting Thursday, Wheeler said he is still looking at "all of the tools in the toolbox" and that the agency will announce a "plan and rationale shortly." He said he will unveil a "construct" for protecting the open Internet, but provided few other details.
FCC BACKS IP TRIALS: The FCC voted unanimously on Thursday to move ahead with trials to study how to update its regulations as carriers drop old copper-phone lines in favor of Internet-based networks. The agency declared four values to protect: public safety, universal access, consumer protection, and competition. "Our challenge is to preserve the values that consumers and businesses have come to expect from their networks, while unleashing new waves of investment and innovation," Wheeler said. The agency will announce the locations for the trials at its May meeting.
Join National Journal on Thursday, February 6 for "Dialing In on the IP Transition" Policy Summit underwritten by Neustar. The Newseum, 3rd Floor Broadcast Studio, 8:00 am - 10:30 am. RSVP @ http://njiptransition.eventbrite.com/
TEXT IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY: The FCC voted unanimously Thursday to move forward with plans to make text-to-911 available around the country by the end of 2014. (Ryan, NJ)
HOUSE GOP DRAFTS IMMIGRATION PLAN: The one-page list of principles unveiled late Thursday says immigrants in the U.S. illegally can stay in the country if the are able to admit "culpability," pass a "rigorous" background check, and support themselves. It further notes that Visas should be afforded in a manner that "reflect(s) the needs of employers and the desire of these exceptional individuals to help grow our economy." Several tech groups praised the plan as a step in the right direction and a sign Congress might pass legislation this year. (Fawn Johnson,NJ)
WAXMAN TO RETIRE: Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat and former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, announced Thursday that he will not run for re-election. Rep. John Dingell, who was ousted from the chairmanship by Waxman in 2008, is the most senior Democrat on the panel (and the House). Asked whether he is interested in the top post again, Dingell, who is 87, said in a statement that he is going to "take a deep breath and look at everything."
NEW DATA BREACH BILL: Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller, Dianne Feinstein, and Mark Pryor introduced a bill Thursday that would require firms that hold personal and financial information to meet FTC security standards and would create a national notification requirement for data breaches. Sen. Patrick Leahy and other Democrats have already backed similar data breach legislation. Republicans are likely to support a notification standard, but security regulations will be a harder sell.
JON STEWART GRILLS PELOSI ON OBAMACARE SITE WOES: "Why is it so hard to get a company to execute (building the site) competently?" Stewart asked. "I don't know," Pelosi replied. That and more IT procurement reform talk in the video within the link. (Jack Fitzpatrick, NJ)
REPUBLICANS CONCERNED WITH E-RATE SIZE: Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a letter to the FCC expressing concern with the president's plan to grow the size of E-Rate, which pays for Internet access in schools and libraries.
BRINGING ORDER TO DIGITAL CURRENCY: New York might become the first state to regulate the most popular cryptocurrency. (Ilya Marritz, NPR)
BUT THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN BITCOIN: Bitcoin gets all the attention, but there are a bevy of digital currencies inspired by memes including RonPaulCoin and Coinye West. (Laura Hudson, Wired)
WHERE WE'RE GOING, WE DON'T NEED ROADS: Tracking the future of autonomous cars--and the potential pitfalls that lurk around the corner. (Brown, NJ)
ZUCKERBERG OPENS UP: It's a sentimental year for an unsentimental man. Mark turns 30, Facebook turns 10, and he met Priscilla a decade ago at a frat party. (Stone/Frier, Businessweek)
WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN PEOPLE: Facebook earned $2.14 per user on average during its 4th quarter, up 60 cents up from last year. (Vauhini Vara, New Yorker)
WILL GOOGLE BE BETTER AT ROBOTS?: Google gave up on smartphones after two years. Here's hoping they have better luck with robots. (Joshua Brustein, Businessweek)
FEDS CENSOR ALREADY-RELEASED DRONE INFO: Customs redacted information in Senate testimony that has already been shared with the public. (Ryan Reilly, Huffington Post)
FAA SHOOTS DOWN DRONE-BASED BEER DELIVERY: The agency nixed a plan to drone-deliver six-packs to ice fishermen. (Brown, NJ)