Week ahead: Senate Dems push public-safety bill

APCO, SENATE DEMS PUSH FOR PUBLIC-SAFETY BILL: Public-safety issues lead the week as APCO International holds a major summit on a proposed communications network for police and firefighters.

Meanwhile, Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) will join Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.) for a press conference Tuesday, where they will call on Congress to pass what they see as long-overdue legislation by Sept. 11 aimed at constructing such a network. Rockefeller is hoping to mark up his public-safety bill before Memorial Day.

Rockefeller said last week: “To me it’s disgraceful and embarrassing and costly to our country that since the Sept. 11 of 2001 that we have done nothing to really change the way our public safety officials can communicate."

Speakers at the APCO summit include public-safety advocates and staffers from the House Homeland Security and Senate Commerce Committees.

USF SHOW GOES ON TOUR: The Federal Communications Commission heads west this week to call for reforms to the Universal Service Fund. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is in Nebraska on Wednesday with Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Communications subcommittee and a top proponent of USF reform. Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael Copps will join them for a public forum on broadband the same day.

PRIVACY: Online privacy remains on the radar this week after Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) introduced children’s privacy legislation on Friday. Their bill focuses on making sure children’s data is safe from advertisers; it’s sure to be scrutinized at the Privacy Identity Innovation conference in Santa Clara, Calif., this week.

The Brookings Institution will hold a Tuesday event on a separate aspect of the privacy debate: Updating the 25-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) for today's communications environment. 

Speakers include James Baker, associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department; James Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology; and Valerie Caproni, general counsel at the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

CYBERSECURITY: Cybersecurity will get federal attention this week when former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff joins FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and representatives from technology firms including Symantec and McAfee at a roundtable on protecting the cybersecurity of small businesses on May 16.

Cybersecurity has been in the headlines recently following a series of high-profile data breaches and the release of the White House’s legislative recommendations last week. Other groups sending representatives to the meeting at FCC headquarters include the National Urban League, Thomson Reuters, HP Enterprise, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and SCORE.

SPACE: The Senate Commerce Space and Science subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the value of the nation’s investments in space against the backdrop of significant proposed cuts in spending on basic scientific research.

The committee will discuss why space is vital for the nation’s economic and national security as well as for innovation. Expect leadership to express concern about preserving U.S. leadership in those areas, especially in light of the current uncertainty surrounding the space program.