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TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: WiFiForward will hold an event featuring FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel at 8:30 a.m., rescheduled from Tuesday. The Conservative Political Action Conference will offer panels on digital privacy, Google political advertising, viral posts, and email fundraising. The International Association of Privacy Professionals' annual privacy summit wraps up with a full line-up. Peter Swire, a member of the president's NSA review group, goes on at 8:15 a.m., FTC Commissioner Julie Brill goes on at noon., and Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan closes out at 2 p.m.
BROADCASTERS WIN ON TV BILL: Broadcasters have won a battle over a satellite TV law, but the war over video market regulation is only just beginning. The House is likely to continue tweaking the legislation before it passes, and the Senate hasn't even begun its debate. The fact that House lawmakers aren't pushing a "clean" reauthorization is a victory for cable providers who are hoping to undercut broadcasters' negotiating power.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday unveiled its discussion draft bill to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which expires at the end of the year. After fierce lobbying by broadcasters, lawmakers abandoned the most controversial provision, which would have allowed cable providers to drop broadcast channels from their "basic tier" of programming. Allowing cable providers to move broadcast channels into pricier tiers would give them more leverage in programming fights, but broadcasters warned it could force consumers to pay more for local news and information during emergencies.
But the STELA update still includes some provisions to boost cable companies. Cable providers would be able to drop broadcasters during "sweeps weeks" when ratings are tallied, and broadcasters wouldn't be able to negotiate programming deals as a group. In a blow to TiVo, the bill would end a specific security requirement for cable set-top boxes.
FCC'S TV OWNERSHIP RULES: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his plan to crack down on joint sales deals between TV stations on Thursday. Consumer groups and top Democrats, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Henry Waxman, praised the move, saying it will promote competition and localism. But a spokesman for Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai called it a "dagger aimed at the heart of small-town broadcasters." (Sasso, NJ)
FTC CHIEF OK WITH AGGREGATED TRACKING: FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said Thursday that she doesn't have a problem with retailers who track the location of customers in their stores—as long as the data is aggregated so they can't monitor individuals. Speaking at the IAPP conference, Ramirez also vowed to continue cracking down on companies that fail to protect their customers' data. "Companies are continuing to make basic, fundamental mistakes" on data security, she said. Despite years of talks with little progress, Ramirez said she remains hopeful that industry will adopt a standard to allow users to opt out of online tracking.
AT&T CEO: COMCAST-TIME WARNER MERGER WILL LIKELY PASS: At an investors conference hosted by Morgan Stanley, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Thursday he expects the Comcast-Time Warner merger to get past federal regulators. AT&T has been closely watching the "blockbuster" merger, and has expedited its network upgrade plans as a result. Stephenson is confident the private sector has enough incentive to self-enforce net neutrality, and expects the FCC will be too busy with the broadcast incentive auction to take on reclassifying broadband as a common carrier. (Ryan, NJ)
FCC SEEKS INPUT ON E-RATE: The FCC released a public notice seeking comment on its E-Rate fund for school Internet access. The agency asked for comments on three issues: focusing funds on high-speed broadband, phasing out traditional voice services, and conducting trials to test new ideas to maximize cost efficiency. Comments are due April 7.
SCHEDULING UPDATE: The House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee hearing on Notice and Takedown, or Section 512 of Title 17 of U.S. copyright law, is rescheduled for March 13 at 9:30 a.m.
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APPLE LOSES BID ON SAMSUNG PHONE BAN: A California district court judge ruled that Apple failed to demonstrate the patented features of its iPhone were a big enough driver of demand to warrant a ban on some of Samsung's older smartphones. (Dan Levine, Reuters)
PRIVACY GROUPS ASK FTC TO INVESTIGATE WHATSAPP PURCHASE: Facebook's $19 billion purchase could jeopardize the understood privacy protections of the messaging service's users, a complaint charges, as Facebook may attempt to share the data with advertisers. (Volz, NJ)
ANTITRUST CHIEF OUT ON COMCAST DEAL: Bill Baer, the head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, recused himself from his agency's review of the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. When Baer was a lawyer for the firm Arnold & Porter, he represented NBC-Universal and General Electric in their 2011 deal with Comcast. (Sasso, NJ)
NSA PRIVACY CHIEF DEFENDS AGENCY: "These people have it in their veins that they're protecting privacy, that they're protecting U.S. persons," Rebecca Richards said in her first public discussion since taking the post. (Sasso, NJ)
JUDGE SAYS FAA CAN'T REGULATE COMMERCIAL DRONES: The ruling says the agency lacks the authority to ban commercial drones; the FAA can now appeal the decision to the NTSB.
SOFTWARE ALLIANCE GETS NEW VP: Craig Albright, whose resume boasts tours of the World Bank and White House, is joining the Software Alliance as vice president of legislative strategy.
BITCOIN CREATOR EXPOSED: Newsweek's back, with a yarn exposing the genius behind the world's most popular digital currency. (Leah McGrath Goodman, Newsweek)
THE FALLOUT: EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MINDS: The unmasking swiftly drew the ire from several corners of the Internet, including Reddit, where users warned the hermetic man's privacy had been destroyed. They may have been proven right, as later in the day a wild car chase took place involving Nakamoto, some sushi, and a gaggle of overly zealous reporters.
BUT BITCOIN DEVOTEES SHOULD REMAIN CALM: Whether Newsweek "doxxed" bitcoin's father or not, his gift to alternative-currency zealots remains intact, and the story does little to change the regulatory hurdles ahead. (Volz, NJ)
TOP MILITARY OFFICIALS PEGS COST OF SNOWDEN LEAKS AT BILLIONS: Joint Chiefs Chair Martin Dempsey said tactical adjustments as a result of the breach will be costly. (Sara Sorcher, NJ)
KIM JONG UN HAS DOUBLED NORTH KOREA'S CELL-PHONE USE: Tight controls, however, mean a tech-driven "Korean Spring" is unlikely. (Brown, NJ)