This Week in Tech: Back to Work

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The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council will hold a panel Monday at noon at the Westin Georgetown Hotel on the impact of Universal Service Reform (USF) on minorities and under-served communities. Speakers include USTelecom senior vice president Jonathan Banks, Google telecom policy counsel Adrienne Biddings and Comcast policy counsel Rudy Brioche.

Six of the major telecom carriers have proposed a USF reform plan that would shift the high-cost portion of the plan toward broadband deployment, but critics say the plan would favor incumbent service providers.

Also Monday, Health and Human Service Secretary Katherine Sebelius will host a consumer health information technology summit aimed at showing consumers the best ways to leverage their own health information to be more active participants in their care. National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Farzad Mostashari will be on hand.

The Internet Innovation Alliance will hold a symposium Tuesday on wireless broadband deployment at the Newseum featuring former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and how to inspire the next generation to take up those fields. Experts and industry have warned repeatedly that the U.S. does not produce enough graduates with advanced skills in those areas to compete with rising economies such as India and China.

On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee's Financial Institutions subpanel will hold a 10 a.m. hearing on cybersecurity and threats to the financial sector. Financial firms are likely to be covered under any comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, such as the proposal unveiled by the White House in March. A Justice Department official indicated at a hearing this week that the administration is willing to consider instituting penalties for critical infrastructure firms that don't comply with DHS security standards, but none are included in the plan as released.

The House Judiciary's Immigration Policy subcommittee will hold a hearing after lunch on the investor visa program, which has been pushed as a job creation measure. Investors and tech firms have pushed for Congress to relax immigration restrictions for entrepreneurs and investors, and lawmakers have shown some willingness if said applicants are able to create high-paying tech-sector jobs in the U.S.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up a series of privacy and data breach notification bills on Thursday designed to amalgamate the patchwork of state laws. Some of the legislation calls for stiff penalties against firms that don't protect consumer data, and all the bills require firms to notify consumers when their data has been breached.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Manufacturing subpanel will examine the impact and burden of European Union Internet privacy regulations Thursday at a 9:30 a.m. hearing.

The Senate has indicated it plans to move on consumer privacy legislation this year, placing the onus on the House to define what types of protections and enforcement it deems acceptable. The key will be striking a balance between the GOP's anti-regulatory tone and the need to appeal to voters concerned about being tracked online.