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FCC to 'Clamp Down' on Illegal Spying FCC to 'Clamp Down' on Illegal Spying

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FCC to 'Clamp Down' on Illegal Spying

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

TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: The FCC has launched a task force to combat illegal spying technologies. The White House has created a team to fix government websites and computer systems. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is warning about the dangers of bitcoin. A proposal to let consumers pick which broadcast channels they want to pay for has bipartisan support, but faces long odds of becoming law.

 

TOP NEWS

FCC LAUNCHES TASK FORCE ON ILLEGAL SPYING: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to "clamp down" on illegal uses of surveillance technology. In response to a letter from Rep. Alan Grayson, Wheeler said reports that private groups and foreign governments are using a device known as a "stringray" to intercept cell phone data are a "grave concern."

The FCC chief has created a task force to develop "concrete solutions" to protect cellular networks from illegal intrusions.

WHITE HOUSE HIRES GOOGLER TO TACKLE GOVERNMENT TECH WOES: When the White House had a broken HealthCare.Gov on its hands, they called Googler Mikey Dickerson to save the website. The White House announced Monday that Dickerson will officially leave his position at Google to permanently head up a team tasked with heading off government tech problems before they happen.

 

As deputy chief information officer and administrator of the U.S. digital services team, Dickerson will lead a small team of tech experts with private sector backgrounds to bring government agencies' websites into the 21st century. The New York Times says that the hire indicates the White House is trying to adopt "a Silicon Valley mindset when it comes to cutting-edge computer systems and consumer-friendly Internet portals."

TOUGH ROAD AHEAD FOR BROADCAST 'A LA CARTE': TVFreedom, a broadcast TV group, has come out swinging against a proposal from the Senate Commerce Committee that would let consumers pick and choose which broadcast channels they want to pay for. NCTA, the main cable lobby, has been silent, presumably over concerns that the proposal could lead to an "a la carte" system for all cable channels.

The fact that Sens. Jay Rockefeller and John Thune developed the "Local Choice" proposal gives it bipartisan credibility. But there's not much time left on the calendar for a controversial overhaul of the TV industry. (Sasso)

WALDEN SECONDS O'RIELLY'S CALL FOR FCC PROCESS REFORM: House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden is backing up FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly's call for the agency to be more transparent about new regulations. Last week, the Republican commissioner said the agency should share its proposed rules with the public before voting on them.

 

Walden said O'Rielly's suggestion was "timely" because "the commission's last few open meetings have been marred by bad process and insufficient sharing of information among the commissioners." The House approved a bill on FCC process reform in March, but it hasn't gone anywhere in the Senate.

TOP LINES

CFPB TELLS BITCOIN USERS, 'YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN': The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a strongly worded consumer advisory that cautions against the use of Bitcoin and its brethren. The watchdog also announced it will start taking complaints about digital currency exchanges and wallets. (Volz)

PTO SCRUBS WORST TELEWORK ABUSES IN REPORT TO WATCHDOG: A full internal report conducted by the Patent and Trademark office paints a much more damning picture than the edited version provided to an outside watchdog. (Lisa Rein, WaPo)

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RIVALS BACK FACEBOOK IN PRIVACY CASE: Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and other tech companies filed court documents defending Facebook in a New York search warrant case. (Joe Miller, BBC)

'KILL SWITCH' BILL CLEARS CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE: The bill would require anti-theft technology in smartphones. (Richard Nieva, CNET)

YOUR COMPLEX PASSWORDS WON'T SAVE YOU: It turns out sophisticated passwords with multiple numbers and signs are not that much safer than simple passwords. (Robert McMillan, Wired)

THE HEARTLAND STILL LOVES RFD-TV: Almost half of the letters sent to the FCC about either Comcast and Time Warner Cable's potential merger or AT&T's planned acquisition of DirecTV are from viewers of the rural TV channel. Fans of shows like "All-American Cowgirl Chicks" are worried that media consolidation could squeeze out smaller independent channels. (Thomas Gryta, WSJ)

TALLYING DIVERSITY DOESN'T MAKE TECH MORE DIVERSE: "All the companies say they need to do more. Few are willing to talk about the issue beyond what they've released in charts and blog posts." (Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic)

COMCAST IS A 'FEDERATION OF FIEFDOMS': The latest installment in The Verge's "Comcast Confessions" series examines the cable giant's splintered organization.

THE DAY AHEAD

  • The American Enterprise Institute will hold an event on "Veterans and their Smartphones: Creating a 21st Century Veterans Service System," at noon.

  • The National Democratic Institute will hold a discussion on open source tools for civic organizing at 5 p.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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