OVERNIGHT TECH: Republicans target FCC for reform

The legislation would also restrict the types of conditions that the FCC could impose on corporate mergers, only allowing the agency to address specific harms related to the proposed deals. Some lawmakers criticized the FCC for requiring Comcast to make commitments, such as offering channels aimed at racial minorities, to receive approval for its purchase of NBC Universal last year.

"I don’t understand why anyone thinks the last-minute side deals the agency makes today are a good idea. The agency calls these side deals 'voluntary commitments.' In my mind, they are anything-but-voluntary commitments," Walden said. 

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Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the committee's ranking Democrat, said he supports a provision that would have allowed the commissioners to talk privately with one another about FCC policies. 

"I suggested to Chairman [Fred] Upton [(R-Mich.)] and Chairman Walden that we should divide H.R. 3309 into two bills: one that could get bipartisan support and be enacted into law and one with partisan provisions that would die in the Senate," Waxman said. "They rejected this suggestion, which dooms the entire package and raises serious questions about why we are doing this bill at all."

An aide to the Senate Commerce Committee told The Hill last week that the Senate has no plans to take up the FCC reform legislation.

"The American people are getting frustrated with Congress. They want us to stop posturing and start addressing their needs. But this markup is yet another squandered opportunity," Waxman said.

Rep. Blackburn pushes Secure IT Act: Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) plan to introduce the Secure IT Act, a GOP-backed cybersecurity bill, in the House this week, according to aides for both lawmakers.

"We know that overly-prescriptive government rules and mandates hamper growth and weaken response capabilities to cyber threats," Blackburn told The Hill. "That’s why the Bono Mack-Blackburn cybersecurity bill is unlike the pro-regulatory frameworks that typically characterize Washington policy-making. Our bill puts the private sector in the driver’s seat and we compliment their efforts with common-sense tools and greater flexibility while strengthening penalties on the criminals."

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and other Republicans introduced the Secure IT Act in the Senate last week.

The measure is an alternative to the Cybersecurity Act, which is backed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and others.

Unlike the Lieberman-Collins bill, the Republicans’ Secure IT Act would not give the Homeland Security Department the power to require critical computer systems to meet certain security standards.


ICYMI:

Verizon urged the Federal Communications Commission to approve its $3.6 billion deal with a group of cable of companies, including Comcast and Time Warner.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the Federal Trade Commission on Monday to investigate reports that mobile applications available on Apple and Google Android phones collect personal information including address books and private photos from their users.