THE LEDE: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Manufacturing subpanel will vote Wednesday morning on Chairman Mary Bono Mack's (R-Calif.) SAFE Data Act, which would establish security and data breach notification standards for organizations that collect private information from consumers. Support for national data breach legislation to supersede the patchwork of state laws has grown on the Hill in the wake of a string of high-profile data breaches at companies such as Sony and Epsilon.
Bono Mack has updated the bill to address concerns raised at a hearing last month, particularly regarding a 48-hour deadline for firms to notify the FTC following a breach. The legislation is one of many efforts at resolving the issue currently in front of Congress and is expected to encounter opposition from Democrats on the subpanel. But national data breach standards appear likely to pass this year either as a stand-alone measure or as part of a comprehensive privacy bill.
“In recent years, sophisticated and carefully orchestrated cyber attacks – designed to obtain personal information about consumers, especially when it comes to their credit cards – have become one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises here in the United States and across the world,” Bono Mack said. “My legislation is crafted around a guiding principle: Consumers should be promptly informed when their personal information has been jeopardized. The time has come for Congress to take decisive action. We need a uniform national standard for data security and data breach notification, and we need it now.”
“The framework that Chairman Bono Mack proposes is fundamentally sound,” said Business Software Alliance president Robert Holleyman. “It requires organizations that hold sensitive personal information to implement reasonable security procedures. It creates market incentives to adopt strong security measures. It ensures that consumers will be notified when a breach puts them at risk of identity theft, fraud or other unlawful activity. By creating a uniform, national framework that preserves an enforcement role for state authorities, it also streamlines compliance burdens. The net effect will be good for businesses and consumers alike.”
Obama nominates tech policy lawyer to FTC: President Obama announced his intent to nominate Maureen Ohlhausen to the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, a sign of the agency's increasing focus on technology policy issues. Ohlhausen is currently an attorney at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, where she is a partner in the firm’s privacy, data protection and cybersecurity practice. She previously worked at the Business Software Alliance as technology policy counsel from January to November 2009. Should she be confirmed by the Senate Ohlhausen's tech expertise could come into play during the FTC's recently announced antitrust investigation into Google.
Murdoch "humbled" by News Corp. phone hacking scandal: News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch told U.K. lawmakers that Tuesday was the "most humble day of my life" during a hearing Tuesday highlighted by a British comedian's attempt to smash a shaving cream pie into the face of the 80-year-old media mogul. Murdoch's wife Wendi leapt to his defense and was captured on camera attempting to strike the protestor.
Murdoch and his son James denied any knowledge of the alleged voicemail hacking and said they were ashamed of reports the now-shuttered tabloid News of the World bribed police officials and violated the privacy of murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Rupert Murdoch blamed people he had trusted and said he didn't believe allegations the paper hacked the phone accounts of 9/11 victims. Former News editor and recently-resigned News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks also testified, denying any knowledge of bribes or phone hacking during her tenure; Brooks was arrested by British authorities in connection with the incidents on Sunday.
News Corp. goes both ways: Despite the company's strong association with the GOP, Sunlight Foundation's Ryan Sibley noted Tuesday that News Corp.'s political donations were evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with President Obama actually the greatest recipient of donations from News Corp., its employees and their families. News Corp. owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post among other publications.
Senators want cyberwar defined: The Senate Armed Services Committee used a nomination hearing for Madelyn Creedon, President Obama's pick for assistant defense secretary for global strategic affairs, to question her on what exactly constitutes an act of war in cyberspace on Tuesday. Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are among those that have called for more detail on cyberspace strategy released by the Pentagon last week, with Levin suggesting that a major disruption to U.S. networks would be viewed as an act of war.
U.S and India sign cyber pact: The U.S. and India also signed a cybersecurity agreement on Tuesday that will increase cooperation between the two nations to combat terrorism and crime as part of the Joint Strategic Dialogue launched in 2009. Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton touted the increasingly cozy relationship between the two nations during a speech in New Delhi, where she also emphasized the need to reduce trade barriers.
FBI arrests 14 for attacks on PayPal: The FBI arrested 14 individuals on Tuesday as part of a sting on the vigilante hacker group Anonymous for allegedly launching denial of service attacks on PayPal after the firm cut off payments to WikiLeaks last December. Anonymous had pledged to target firms that had cut ties with WikiLeaks and allegedly referred to the attacks as "Operation Avenge [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange." British police also arrested one individual on Tuesday while Dutch authorities arrested four more.
FCC announces tentative August open meeting agenda: The Commission will consider several proposals to remove regulatory barriers for the use of certain bands of spectrum for wireless backhaul in hopes of spurring broadband deployment. It will also consider streamlining the foreign ownership rules concerning wireless phone companies.
On Tap Wednesday: The House Judiciary Committee will several tech-related pieces of legislation including H.R. 2552, the “Identity Theft Improvement Act of 2011”; H.R. 1981, the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011”; and H.R. 1550, the “Federal Law Enforcement Recruitment and Retention Act of 2011."
First responders from 9/11 will join Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and House Homeland Security chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.) at the Capitol after lunch to rally support for legislation that would create a national interoperable public safety network using the D Block of spectrum.
Outgoing assistant attorney general for antitrust Christine Varney will take part in a panel titled “Business v. Government,” at the 2011 Fortune Brainstorm TECH at The Aspen Institute in Colorado.
AT&T, Public Knowledge spar over merger impact: The advocacy group Public Knowledge wrote to the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday arguing that AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom would result in job losses, citing a recent Wall Street Journal report that found jobs in the wireless industry have decreased by 20 percent since 2006 due to consolidation. AT&T has said the merger will create as many 96,000 new jobs through its commitment to deploy next-generation wireless broadband coverage to more than 97 percent of the country.
Apple earnings smash forecasts again: Apple reported record revenue on Tuesday despite not unveiling any new major products in the previous quarter. The company sold 20.34 million iPhones in the quarter, a 142 percent increase over the same period one year ago, and 9.25 million iPads, a 183 percent increase. “We’re thrilled to deliver our best quarter ever, with revenue up 82 percent and profits up 125 percent,” said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. “Right now, we’re very focused and excited about bringing iOS 5 and iCloud to our users this fall.”
Judge sets Sept. 15 deadline for Google books agreement: A federal judge told Google, book authors and publishers that they must reach an agreement over digital rights by Sept. 15. The judge said that if the issues are not "resolved or close to resolved in principle" by then, he would set a "relatively tight schedule" for a possible trial. The dispute is over Google scanning copyrighted works for its Google Books feature. The case began in 2005, and the parties reached a settlement in 2008, but the same judge overturned that deal in March 2011.
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This post was updated on July 25 at 1:00 p.m.