Republicans deny Internet providers have monopoly; Democrats reluctant to strip FCC of power
As reported last week, the US House of Representatives' Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing titled "Protecting the Internet and Consumers through Congressional Action." The hearing was to discuss the unnamed draft bill introduced by Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan), head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), head of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the Senate, which purports to "draft a new law for this century" and ensure net neutrality, but strips the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of almost all enforcement authority.
Unnamed measure prohibits paid prioritization but also strips FCC of 706 authority
A draft bill intended to resolve the current threats to net neutrality was announced today in the US Congress, with plans to begin hearings on it as early as next Wednesday by the US Energy & Commerce Committees. The bill purports to ensure net neutrality by prohibiting blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and a number of other desirable perks, but also specifically strips the FCC of its existing authority to protect consumers and encourage competition.
President Obama wants hackers prosecuted under racketeering laws
Last month at his year-end press conference, President Obama responded to the first question with a call for stronger cybersecurity laws. Today, the President released a statement detailing what he would like to see in legislative proposals. Some of it attempts to address concerns plaguing CISPA, which has been floundering since 2011 but is staging a comeback in the new Republican-led Congress, among other plans.
Commission wants more control in users' hands, regulation in industry
In a recent report put together by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the commission asks Congress for regulation on the practices of data collection by data brokers. While the FTC has been studying the practice of data collection for a number of years, it has yet to see action come at the government over what the companies involved are able to do with the data. One thing the FTC would like to see is some of the control over data being placed back into the hands of the people.
Amicus curae letter filed notes government attention, ITC responsibility
An an unusual show of solidarity, leaders of the US Congress intellectual property and antitrust subcommittees submitted a letter to the US International Trade Commission (ITC) reiterating the prior request that "the Commission carefully assess the substantial public interest considerations that exist with regards to this and other cases at the ITC in which SEPs are at issue."
High Tech Spectrum Coalition formed to spotlight issues
The High Tech Spectrum Coalition, a 'supergroup' of technology companies led by Apple and Samsung, petitioned Congress on Tuesday to provide more broadcast bandwidth for smartphones and tablet computers. The sent letter encourages the House and Senate technology committees to evaluate auctioning some of the spectrum currently in use by the federal government.
Congress asks US firms to stop fueling expansion of Huawei, ZTE
A draft Congress report due today argues that leading Chinese telecoms producers Huawei and ZTE should be locked out of the U.S. market over security concerns, reports Reuters. The US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee argues that the two companies are subject to the influence of the Chinese government. After 11-months of research, the committee believes that it is in the best interests of U.S. firms and the country to avoid purchasing products from either Huawei or ZTE.
Congress bill may bring next-gen 'super Wi-Fi'
Congress has has passed a bill allowing spectrum previously set aside for TV broadcasts to be used for next-generation Wi-Fi services and Bluetooth. According to CIO, a portion of the band will be offered up for unlicensed use by long-distance ‘super Wi-Fi’ services. A separate portion of the TV spectrum will be utilized as a nationwide mobile broadband service for emergency services.
Lawmakers asked to take "fresh perspective"
A long list of companies and organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Open Congress, have sent an open letter urging congressional lawmakers to take an entirely new approach to intellectual property law. The authors suggest concerns raised over SOPA and PIPA legislation are "too fundamental and too numerous" to be resolved through "hasty revisions" to the existing bills.
Online trackers reveal secrets, can't be erased
Two members of the US Congress have asked the FTC to investigate the use of "supercookies" by several online sites including MSN and Hulu. In a letter to FTC chairman, Jon Liebowitz, Republican Joe Barton and Democrat Ed Markey, expressed concern that the use of these tracking tools might be an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act, which empowers the FTC.
Members voice support for merger
Fifteen Democrat members of the House of Representatives have sent a letter asking President Obama to find a quick resolution to the Department of Justice lawsuit against AT&T's proposed T-Mobile buyout. The group, headed by North Carolina Representative Heath Shuler, argues that a settlement and approval of the deal will have a positive effect on the economy and job creation.
Legislation aims to reduce application backlog
The US House of Representatives is considering new legislation that aims to reform current laws surrounding the patent system. The proposals, which are included in the America Invents Act, are designed to reduce the backlog in patent applications, bring the United States' filing methods in line with those of other countries, and help discourage patent trolls from taking advantage of the current laws to abuse the system.
Company cites "ongoing investigation"
Sony is reportedly attempting to avoid testifying before Congress later this week, after the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade asked the company to answer questions regarding its failure to protect the PlayStation Network from hackers. The memo distributed to subcommittee members suggests the hearing is designed to explore "risks related to data breaches" and data security practices utilized by the industry.
Telecom Act labeled "antiquated"
Verizon has called upon Congress to establish a new framework for telecommunications policies, as the company labels the current system as "broken." In a speech at the Federalist Society's National Conference, Verizon executive VP Tom Tauke criticized the current approach to Internet regulation as "antiquated and anti-competitive."
FCC now sees neutrality rules as necessary
The FCC today said (PDF) it had voted 3-2 in favor of beginning procedures to reclassify Internet access and take action on its proposed National Broadband Plan. Officials plan to go ahead with their initial plans and are asking for comments both from the public and from the industry by July 15. First replies from the FCC to the comments should be ready by August 12.
Home Wi-Fi users affected?
Two Texas-based US representatives have introduced bills that would require ISPs to store user information for two years. The bills may even require home wi-fi router users to track the same information, according to Macworld. The bills were introduced Thursday, one in the US Senate, by Rep. Senator John Cornyn, and in the House by Representative Lamar Smith. Each bill is called the Internet Safety Act, aimed at preventing child pornography via the Internet. The bills call for stronger penalties for accessing child pornography on the Internet and would require Internet and e-mail service providers to retain all records and related information about anyone using a network address temporarily assigned by the service.
Digital TV delayed
Congress has approved legislation that will delay the digital TV transition until June 12, providing more time to prepare older devices for the change, according to Reuters. The switch deadline had initially been scheduled for February 17th, although an estimated 20 million individuals would not be ready in the next few weeks. Obama backed the latest change, recognizing concerns that the unprepared group contained mostly low-income, elderly and rural households.
iPhones may be on the Hill
US State Senator may have a trendy new gadget next year, as congress is considering the iPhone as its newest communication device. TheHill.com is reporting that Congress's Chief Administrative Office (CAO), the office in charge of congressional communications, is testing a set of iPhones among its ranks to see if the device will function within the needs of Capital Hill representatives and support staff.