THE LEDE: The incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees will meet on Thursday to discuss their plans for cybersecurity legislation in the next Congress, among other national security matters.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) are set to pick up this year's failed efforts to pass a bill that would protect the nation's critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.
"I think it's very important that we move forward, trying to be as much on the same page as possible," McCaul said. "I think the failure of this Congress is that the Senate [was] just completely operating in a different world than the House, and the more I can facilitate that relationship, and maybe try to get it as much on the same page as possible, we have a better chance for success [for] getting a bill passed."
McCaul plans to introduce a cybersecurity bill next year after hosting a series of meetings with industry players to get their feedback on what they think should be included in legislation. He met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday to discuss the top issues on the department's agenda and said cybersecurity was one of the chief items they discussed.
Meanwhile, Carper was one of the co-sponsors of a sweeping cybersecurity bill in the Senate that failed twice this year after facing fierce opposition from GOP members and the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Carper has said he plans to revisit the issue of boosting the nation's cybersecurity defenses in the first part of 2013, picking up the torch from outgoing Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).
FCC proposes text-to-911 rules: The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed rules to require wireless carriers to allow their customers to send emergency text messages to 911.
The four national carriers voluntary agreed last week to offer text-to-911 by May 15, 2014. On Wednesday, the FCC sought comments on whether all wireless carriers, as well as certain providers of Internet-based text messaging, should be required to offer text-to-911 on the same timeline.
Because of concern that the program will be rolled-out unevenly, the FCC proposed requiring cell carriers to deliver a "bounce back" message if 911 texting isn't available yet.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the move is "an important part of the FCC’s comprehensive strategy to harness the power of new technologies to make the communities we live in safer."
Senate Judiciary to mark up location privacy bill: The Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) Location Privacy Protection Act on Thursday.
The measure would require companies to get a customer’s consent before collecting or sharing mobile location data.
The committee has delayed the markup from its original 10 a.m. start time, but a Judiciary aide said the markup would be held later in the day.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the panel’s ranking Republican, said at a hearing that he supports the bill’s domestic violence provisions but has some concerns with the commercial portion.
“Specifically, we need to work through some of the definitions to ensure they mean what we intend. We also have to examine the bill’s enforcement mechanism to make sure we don’t create unnecessary problems for litigants or the courts. Finally, we need to examine the impact the consent provisions will have on current and future technology,” Grassley said.
The bill is unlikely to pass this Congress, but Franken is expected to push the measure again next year.
On Wednesday, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) proposed provisions to protect the privacy of mobile data. He released the bill language on his website, apprights-hankjohnson.house.gov.
Lawmakers to examine data brokers: Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) will hold a briefing on Thursday to learn more data brokers — companies that collect and sell personal information about consumers.
Representatives from major data brokers and privacy groups will attend the briefing, along with Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Commissioner Julie Brill.
CALM Act goes into effect: FCC rules limiting the volume of television commercials go into effect on Thursday.
Congress authorized the FCC to adopt the regulations when it passed the CALM Act in 2010. The measure requires broadcast, satellite and cable television providers to limit commercials to the same volume as the programming surrounding them.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the sponsors of the bill, will join with Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters; Michael Powell, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; and Mark Richer, president of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, to mark the implementation of the law at an event on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Republicans worried airwave auction won't raise enough money: House Republicans expressed concern at a hearing on Wednesday that the FCC will fail to generate enough revenue from its planned auction of airwave licenses.
Republicans worried that the commission will reserve too much unlicensed spectrum, which can be used by any company for free.
Unlicensed spectrum supports technologies such as WiFi, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski argued that additional unlicensed spectrum will allow for new technological innovations.
Facebook unveils new privacy features: Facebook unveiled a set of new privacy features on Wednesday that the company says are intended to help users better understand who can see the content they share and control the audience with which they share that content.
These new features will be rolled out to Facebook users throughout the end of the year.
ZTE bulks up lobbying forces in Washington: The Chinese telecommunications company ZTE is bulking up its lobbying forces in Washington amid accusations that the company poses a security threat to the United States.
DLA Piper and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide registered to lobby on behalf of ZTE on "maintaining open and transparent markets in U.S./China relations," according to recently filed lobbying disclosure forms.
FCC approves Dish's plan for cellphone network: The FCC unanimously approved a proposal on Tuesday to allow Dish Network to build an LTE cellphone network.
The order authorizes Dish to transmit cellphone signals on frequencies that had been previously reserved for satellite signals. The FCC imposed build-out requirements and restrictions aimed at preventing interference.
Blumental joins Commerce Committee: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is joining the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Democratic leaders announced on Wednesday.