OVERNIGHT TECH: Bill would let FCC commissioners talk in private

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, included the sunshine rule change in his FCC Process Reform Act, which passed the House last year. 

But Democrats argued that other provisions in Walden's bill would have hampered the FCC's ability to protect consumers. The Senate never took up the bill. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Walden has promised to renew his push for his FCC Process Reform Act this year, arguing that it will increase transparency and accountability at the FCC. His office did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday on the FCC Collaboration Act. 

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's office declined to comment, but Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai praised the bill, saying it would "facilitate a more fruitful dialogue about the potential costs and benefits of Commission action."

“We must be as nimble as the communications industry we oversee," Pai said in a statement. "The FCC Collaboration Act would help us do that by allowing greater interaction among the Commissioners. We could respond better and more quickly to everyone with business before the FCC, from broadcasters in Illinois to technology companies in California. The act also would help us meet deadlines set by Congress and the shot clocks we set for ourselves."

Eshoo, Rogers introduce energy efficiency bill: Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would require federal agencies to work with the Office of Management and Budget to craft plans for using more energy efficient technologies, especially at federal data centers. The New York Times reported last year that data centers can waste a large percentage of electricity and they consume roughly 2 percent of all electricity in the U.S. each year. Eshoo and Rogers said the bill is aimed at saving energy and money within the federal government. 

“With federal data centers accounting for 10 percent of all U.S. data center energy use, government should lead by example in improving energy efficiency," Eshoo said in a statement. "The rising importance of data centers in our everyday lives goes unnoticed, but the importance of energy efficiency should not." 

Susan Crawford for FCC chief?: President Obama should nominate Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford to chair the Federal Communications Commission, wrote Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of The Nation, in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday.

"She is ideally qualified," vanden Heuvel wrote. "In addition to her deep knowledge and expertise in this issue, she understands the landscape, players and technology well, without being entrenched in the culture of big business. She knows that democratic freedom of information is at stake — and she knows that the FCC has the power to fix it."

She argued that Chairman Julius Genachowski, who is expected to step down sometime this year, has not done enough to stand up to the telecommunications giants.

"Given telecom’s powerful lobby, this is not a task for the faint of heart — but Crawford has the requisite political chops," vanden Heuvel wrote.

Obama would delight the left if he nominated Crawford to replace Genachowski, but it's unclear whether he is interested in picking a political fight with Senate Republicans over the slot. 

Expedia joins inSPIRE STEM USA: Travel website Expedia is one of the 13 new members that recently joined inSPIRE STEM USA, a coalition of organizations and companies such as Microsoft, Intel and IBM that is pushing for high-skilled immigration reform and for Congress to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs in the United States. Former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona are co-chairing the coalition, which threw its support behind the I-Squared high-skilled immigration bill introduced in the Senate last week. 

Facebook co-founder's husband running for Congress: The husband of Facebook co-founder and New Republic publisher Chris Hughes is running for Congress in New York's 19th House district, according to The Washington Post. Sean Eldridge, 26, filed papers to run for the House seat this week and would face off against Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.). 


ON TAP

The European Union is expected to propose new cybersecurity rules on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week. The rules may have implications for major U.S. companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, according to the Journal, and will require search engines, banks and other companies to report cyber incidents to government authorities. However, the rules will still need to be enacted into law before they go into effect. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

White House: Executive order is 'not magical,' cyber bill still needed: Andy Ozment, a senior director for cybersecurity at the White House, said Wednesday that an executive order aimed at securing critical infrastructure from cyberattacks won't replace the need for comprehensive legislation. 

"I think it's worth highlighting that an executive order is not magical. It doesn't create new power or authorities for any government agency," Ozment said during a keynote at the winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. "Instead, it's an expression of the president's strategic intent."

Federal Reserve confirms hackers breached site: The Federal Reserve has confirmed that hackers breached an agency website and gained access to government information.

A Federal Reserve spokesman said the attack did not affect the "critical operations of the Federal Reserve System."

A Twitter user affiliated with the hacker activist group Anonymous claimed credit for the attack on Sunday.

House Intel chairman says U.S. 'under siege' from cyberattacks: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Wednesday said the United States is in the middle of a war in cyberspace and "losing" the battle.

"We are absolutely under siege and we are fooling ourselves if we don't think we have a problem," Rogers said.

The chairman warned that Russia and China are getting more sophisticated in their cyberattack capabilities, with Iran following closely on their heels. He said other countries have integrated offensive cyberattack capabilities into their military planning, which is changing the face of future warfare.


Please send tips and comments to Brendan Sasso, bsasso@thehill.com, and Jennifer Martinez, jmartinez@thehill.com.

Follow Hillicon Valley on Twitter: @HilliconValley, @BrendanSasso, @JenMartinez