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Wheeler Fires Back Over Auction Rules

Welcome to National Journal's Tech Edge, a morning tip sheet with the news you need in technology policy, featuring a roundup of the best coverage and exclusive tips for the day ahead. Got this by forward? Sign up at

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


TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is pushing back against critics of his plan to cap how much spectrum AT&T and Verizon can buy in the upcoming auction. Aereo launched an advocacy website ahead of next week's Supreme Court argument. Financial information might not be safe with the SEC, according to a Government Accountability Office report.


WHEELER MOUNTS HIS DEFENSE: The FCC chief has faced some withering criticism in recent days from AT&T and even House Democrats for his decision to restrict bidding in the upcoming spectrum auction. Now Wheeler is fighting back.

In his response to Rep. John Barrow, the Georgia Democrat who led a group opposed to auction restrictions, Wheeler argued that the auction may be the last opportunity for years to give the smaller providers access to valuable low-band spectrum. The caps are necessary to ensure competition in the industry and coverage in rural areas, he wrote.


And in an emailed statement, an FCC official took a not-so-subtle shot at AT&T (which has threatened to pull out of the auction altogether):

"Not surprisingly, companies that compete in the market also compete for the most favorable regulatory policy. Some may want to consolidate the industry, while simultaneously getting advantages in the auction. Some would like to take hold of spectrum in the incentive auction without competing against their strongest rivals. Companies are free to advocate the views that are in their best interest, but the public interest is not measured against the business model of one or two companies; it is measured against the ability of the market to deliver the benefits of competition to Americans in urban, suburban and rural America alike."

Wheeler circulated an incentive-auction proposal on Thursday with the other commissioners, and is expected to put out the related spectrum-holdings item next week.

AEREO LAUNCHES ADVOCACY SITE: The streaming TV service has launched an advocacy site ahead of its big day at the Supreme Court next Tuesday. The site, "Protect My Antenna," claims that a ruling against it would hurt consumers' rightful access to broadcast signals. "If the broadcasters succeed, the consequences to American consumers and the cloud industry are chilling," an open letter on the site contends.


REPORT: SEC VULNERABLE TO ATTACK: The Government Accountability Office concluded that the Securities and Exchange Commission has made some improvements, but that the agency is still failing to protect sensitive business and financial information from hackers. The commission needs to more effectively oversee contractors and implement a new "risk management" process to address weaknesses, according to the report.


CAN FACEBOOK FIND YOUR FRIENDS WITHOUT BEING CREEPY?: The social network entered the discovery-app world Thursday with its new Nearby Friends feature—but can it quell privacy concerns? (Volz)

SNOWDEN APPEARS ON TV WITH PUTIN: Putin tells Snowden that Russia does a better job at protecting privacy than the U.S. (Berman, NJ)

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INTERNET MAKES ECONOMY VULNERABLE TO A LEHMAN-LIKE CRASH: A new report reveals that the interconnected-nature of the Internet leaves the economy vulnerable to digital disruptions and cybercrime. (Mark Clayton, CS Monitor)

UBER FACES CHILLY RECEPTION IN EUROPE: Berlin and Brussels have put curbs on the service, and the company has faced backlash in Paris. (Mark Scott, NYT)

HOW THE U.S. IS VULNERABLE TO SPACE TERRORISM: The possibility of a dangerous space incident is on the rise, says a new report. (Ryan)


Happy Friday!

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