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NSA Critics Gain Momentum

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

TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Privacy advocates have a new spring in their step after last week's House vote to curb NSA spying. The administration, however, gained approval to continue its bulk collection of phone records. The FCC unveiled its proposal to pump money into WiFi in schools, and all eyes are on the Supreme Court this week with the Aereo decision looming.



HOUSE VOTE BOOSTS NSA CRITICS: A strong House vote to close "backdoor" NSA spying programs has given privacy advocates a new boost of momentum as they try to toughen up surveillance reform legislation in the Senate. "That overwhelming vote changes the trajectory of this issue moving forward," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a sponsor of one of the amendment to the defense bill, said. Lawmakers also approved an amendment from Rep. Alan Grayson to bar the NSA from undermining encryption standards.

Lofgren argued that the votes are a "better reflection of the actual views" of House members than the USA Freedom Act, which leaders scaled back with last minute changes before a floor vote last month. Even if the provisions don't become law through the appropriations process, they put pressure on the Senate to adopt stronger reform.

"I'll be urging my colleagues in the Senate to follow the House's lead," Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement. "It is time to slam this back door shut."


...BUT BULK COLLECTION CONTINUES: The NSA's phone data collection will continue for at least three more months. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the Justice Department's request Thursday, extending the program until Sept. 12.

Sens. Wyden, Mark Udall, and Martin Heinrich had urged the administration to allow the controversial program to lapse, but the Justice Department and Director of National Intelligence said the administration sought reauthorization "given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities" of the program.

E-RATE PLAN FOCUSES ON WIFI: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled his plan to revamp E-Rate, a subsidy for Internet access in schools and libraries. Under his plan, the FCC will dedicate $2 billion over the next two years to upgrade WiFi networks, in addition to the fund's annual $2.4 billion budget. The goal is to connect 10 million students to WiFi and begin the transition away from spending on older technologies, such as phone lines and pagers. No E-Rate funding went towards WiFi last year.

SCOTUS WATCH: It's nearly the end of June, and we're still waiting for the Supreme Court's decisions on Aereo and police searches of cell phones during arrest. The court will release opinions this morning, Wednesday, and Thursday. There is also one last day scheduled for next Monday.



GOOGLE IS PONDERING A PRIVATE, TRANS-PACIFIC CABLE: The tech giant is considering a multi-million dollar investment in a private cable that would give it much more control over its traffic. (Drew Fitzgerald, WSJ)

SHOULD FTC HANDLE NET NEUTRALITY?: Republicans say traditional antitrust law can prevent abuses, but Democrats argue FCC rules are needed to address non-economic harms. (Sasso, NJ)

SAFER ROADS OR STRONGER WI-FI?: Sens. Cory Booker and Marco Rubio want to see if spectrum can be shared between vehicle communications and unlicensed technologies. (Brown, NJ)

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NYT: SURVEILLANCE ISN'T JUST A U.S. PROBLEM: "European governments have been more serious about protecting consumer privacy … But many countries, like Britain, Germany and France, have given law enforcement and intelligence agencies a free hand to monitor private communications," the New York Times writes.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A DRONE DROPS FROM THE SKY? 400 military drones have malfunctioned since 2001. That could be a problem when commercial drones take off. (Craig Whitlock, Washington Post)

EX-NSA HEAD TO ADVISE BANKS ON CYBER CRIME: Keith Alexander is charging as much as $1 million a month for his services; he has long warned of the financial sector's vulnerability to hackers. (Carter Dougherty/Jesse Hamilton, Bloomberg)

FRANCE IS WHINING ABOUT WEBSITES ENDING IN .WINE: France is so upset about the new .Wine domain that it is derailing US-EU trade talks. (Kabir Chibber, Quartz)

VERIZON WANTS DISH'S SPECTRUM: The companies have held talks about the satellite provider's spectrum, worth as much as $17 billion—coming on the heels of rumors Verizon might try to purchase Dish. (Josh Kosman, NY Post)



  • The Supreme Court will release decisions at 10 a.m.

  • The National Press Club will hold an event on "Why Net Neutrality Must Be Maintained" at 10 a.m.

  • The Wilson Center will host an event on smart cities, highlighting New York, Ahmedabad, Sao Paulo, and Beijing at 2 p.m.


  • Congress will scrutinize the proposed AT&T-DirecTV merger during back-to-back hearings in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law at 10 a.m. and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights at 2:30 p.m. AT&T President and CEO Randall Stephenson and DirecTV President and CEO Michael White will testify at both hearings.

  • The House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on digital healthcare at 10 a.m., with testimony from 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.

  • The House Judiciary Intellectual Property Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Trade Secrets: Promoting and Protecting American Innovation, Competitiveness, and Market Access in Foreign Markets" at 1:30 p.m.

  • Politico Pro will host an event on cyber threats to financial markets at 8 a.m.

  • The Brookings Institution will host Microsoft Executive Vice President and General Counsel for a discussion on "The Future of Global Technology, Privacy, and Regulation," at 10 a.m.

  • The NTIA will hold another facial recognition stakeholder meeting at 1 p.m.

  • FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly, Commissioner Ajit Pai's chief of staff Matthew Berry, and AT&T's Robert Quinn will join the the Phoenix Center for a rooftop roundtable on the FCC's authority over broadband providers at 6 p.m.


  • The Supreme Court will release decisions at 10 a.m.

  • Executives Pandora and SiriusXM will face off with the heads of ASCAP and the Recording Industry Association of America during the the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the Internet's second hearing on updating music licensing laws at 10 a.m.

  • The Senate Homeland Security Committee will vote on various cyber bills at 10 a.m.

  • The House Homeland Security Committee and House Education Committee will hold a joint hearing on data mining and student privacy at 11 a.m.

  • The USPTO and NTIA will hold a second roundtable on copyright policy and innovation in Cambridge, Mass., at 8:30 a.m.

  • The Free State Foundation will host Sen. John Thune and FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai for a discussion on communications policy reform at 9 a.m.

  • The International Institute for Strategic Studies will hold a discussion on "How the U.S. is Perceived in the Cyber Domain by Other Major Actors," at 10 a.m.

  • R Street will hold a lunch discussion on what's next for patent reform at 12 p.m.


  • The Supreme Court will release decisions at 10 a.m.

  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, and Uber DC General Manager Zuhairah Washington will participate in a panel discussion on regulating mobile hosted by Politico at 8 a.m.

  • The Stimson Center will hold a briefing to release a new report on U.S. drone policy at 9:30 a.m.

  • The New America Foundation will host an event on digital diplomacy at 5:30 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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