OVERNIGHT TECH: House NSA bill to skip committee

THE LEDE: Legislation aimed at restoring trust in the National Security Agency (NSA) will skip the committee process and go straight to the House floor.

The House Intelligence Committee had planned to mark up the bill on Thursday morning, but Republican leaders stepped in and had the session cancelled, according to a congressional aide. 

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"There is significant member interest in this issue as well as multiple committees with jurisdiction," a House leadership aide said. "Leadership is working to ensure that there is a well-coordinated process with all interested parties going forward."

The bill is still secret, but it is expected to preserve the core of the NSA's surveillance powers. It is authored by the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee and fierce NSA defenders Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.).

The measure is expected to be a counterpart to legislation from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Her bill would endorse the NSA's sweeping collection of records on all U.S. phone calls but make certain procedural changes intended to improve privacy protections. 

It is unclear whether NSA critics in the House will have an opportunity to amend the bill on the House floor. Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the original author of the Patriot Act, is pushing aggressive legislation to end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records and tighten oversight of the agency.

Intel authorization: Although the vote on the NSA bill has been canceled, the House Intelligence Committee will move ahead with legislation to re-authorize the intelligence agencies on Thursday morning.

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved companion re-authorization legislation earlier this month.

A congressional aide said House leadership is aiming to bring both bills to the floor simultaneously by the end of the year. But with Congress out next week, there are only a few more weeks on the congressional calendar before the new year.

Telecom investors push disclosure: Some AT&T and Verizon investors are pushing proposals, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, to require the companies to publish semi-annual reports detailing how much customer information they share with governments.

Web companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo already disclose statistics about government access to data, but the telecommunications industry has resisted similar disclosures.

New FCC public safety chief: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has named David Simpson as the new chief of the agency's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

Simpson, a Navy rear admiral, most recently served as vice director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, handling communications issues for the military.

Latest NSA leak: A secret deal struck with British intelligence officials gave the NSA access to phone, Internet and email records of UK citizens, according to documents provided to The Guardian by Edward Snowden.

 

ON TAP

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its latest hearing on the NSA surveillance programs. The hearing will begin after a committee session at 10:00 a.m.

The House Communications and Technology subcommittee will hold a hearing on FirstNet, the wireless network for first responders, at 10:30 a.m.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and White House official Tom Power will discuss the upcoming spectrum auction at an event hosted by the New America Foundation on Capitol Hill at 9:30 a.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

An alternative patent reform bill from House Judiciary Democrats was defeated in committee.

Three Democratic senators are pushing an amendment to the Defense authorization bill that would require more disclosures about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. 

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is worried that controversy over NSA surveillance could prevent Congress from re-authorizing funding for intelligence agencies. 

Wikipedia is cracking down on Wiki-PR, a company that gets paid to write and edit posts on the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia.

The House has no plans to consider legislation from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to bolster online video services, according to Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio). 

 

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