OVERNIGHT TECH: House telecom subpanel to vote on spectrum bill Thursday

SCOOP: Google leading opposition to Protect IP Act: Google is exhorting senators to oppose an online piracy bill, arguing it would threaten national security, shackle the Internet with regulations and imperil free speech, according to a document obtained by The Hill. The search giant unwillingly became the face of the technology industry's growing opposition to online piracy legislation in both chambers during a one-sided House Judiciary hearing earlier this month. Now sources tell Hillicon that Google is the loudest voice protesting the Senate version, which is further along in the legislative process and considered more likely to pass without major changes. Google is hardly alone in its quest to derail online piracy legislation; free-speech advocates and tech firms warn the bill could lead to censorship or potentially onerous regulation of the Web. The content industries argue that without better enforcement, foreign sites devoted to piracy will continue to sap the profits and jobs from America's creative sector.


House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), issued the following statement on Wednesday in response to Google's criticism of the bill:

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"Google recently paid a half billion dollars to settle a criminal case because of the search-engine giant’s active promotion of rogue foreign pharmacies that sold counterfeit and illegal drugs to U.S. patients. Their opposition to this legislation is self-serving since they profit from doing business with rogue sites. Laws exist to protect our intellectual property in the real world, the same protections must apply to the Internet. This bill does not threaten the Internet as a tool of communication and commerce. But it does threaten the profits generated by those who willfully steal intellectual property by trafficking in counterfeit or pirated goods.”

New social media index will rate agencies on engagement: Expert Labs has just unveiled a new Federal Social Media Index that will rate agencies based on how responsive they are to members of the public on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Expert Labs Director Anil Dash said the basic premise is that government agencies spend most of their time on Twitter and other social networks talking rather than listening. The index will attempt to monitor which agencies do the best job of responding to concerns from the public in hopes of spurring others to do the same.

Dash noted most departments are evaluated against internal goals rather than against other federal agencies, and lack statistics to demonstrate whether they are using social networking tools to effectively communicate with the public. He believes the media and public interest generated by the index, which is part of a suite of open source tools available to agencies, will help spur the government to take the rankings seriously and improve their outreach. Currently the index only measures the number of questions asked and answered on Twitter, but the algorithm will grow more complex and sophisticated as the index evolves. The current weekly rankings will transition to a daily index in January. Dash also predicted the rankings will drive users to follow the agencies that regularly appear on top.


ON TAP THURSDAY

The House Small Business Committee subcommittee on Healthcare and Technology will hold an afternoon hearing titled Cyber Security: Protecting Your Small Business. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), head of the House Cybersecurity working group, will highlight the witness panel. House Republicans have indicated they plan to move on legislation that would allow for increased information sharing between the government and private firms about cyber attacks in the coming months.


ICYMI

The leadership of the House Intelligence Committee unveiled a cybersecurity bill focused on information sharing on Wednesday. Watch Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) discuss the bill here.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has no intention of lifting his hold on FCC nominees Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel until the commission hands over the requested LightSquared documents, but that didn't stop his Senate colleagues from praising them on Wednesday.


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