The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, movie studios and record companies argue the bill is necessary to curb online content theft. The bill's sponsor, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), said claims that the measure would limit free speech are "false and misleading." But the legislation has attracted plenty of attention; at one point on Wednesday four of the top 10 searches on Google were related to the bill. "Internet censorship" was still the second most searched-term as of Thursday evening.
Lawmakers ask FCC to put budget data on Web homepage: In a letter on Thursday, Reps. Cliff Stearns (D-Fla.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski to put a link on the homepage of his agency's website to its annual budget, performance reports, appropriations data and information on the number of full-time employees.
ON TAP FRIDAY:
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold its second hearing on the issue of online gambling to discuss what a potential federal regulatory structure to oversee online poker or other games would look like. The first witness panel will feature three lawmakers: Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and John Campbell (R-Calif.) will both speak in favor of legalizing online poker while Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) will strongly oppose any weakening of the 2006 law that banned the practice. Wolf will cite the social costs of gambling and refer to Internet gaming as the "crack cocaine" of gambling — far more damaging than destination gambling.
Momentum for legalizing some form of Internet gaming, online poker in particular, has been building for months since the White House shut down the largest online poker sites as part of its "Black Friday" operation earlier this year. Committee member Joe Barton (R-Texas) has introduced a bill that would legalize and set up federal oversight of the online poker industry, but that bill has drawn opposition from state lotteries and Indian tribes, both looking to protect their share of gaming revenues.
The states argue gambling has always been handled at the state level and oppose any federal intervention, while the tribes are looking to avoid any changes to their current arrangement, which allows them to avoid federal taxes on gaming. National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens emphasized the tribes' refusal to budge from the current arrangement, which gives the tribes a high degree of autonomy on gaming, at a hearing on the issue in front of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Thursday.
The Senate will debate cybersecurity legislation in early 2012, according to a letter from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) late Wednesday.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) filed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday that would increase the penalties for cybercrimes and make it a felony to damage a computer than controls systems critical to national security.
In a letter Thursday to the deficit-reduction supercommittee, four music industry groups slammed the National Association of Broadcasters for resisting incentive spectrum auctions.