OVERNIGHT TECH: NSA overhaul bill ready

THE LEDE: Lawmakers in the House and Senate plan to formally introduce legislation to limit the National Security Agency Tuesday morning, according to aides.

The bill, the USA Freedom Act, is authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the original author of the USA Patriot Act in 2001.

ADVERTISEMENT
A Leahy aide said there will be about a dozen co-sponsors of both parties in the Senate. Ben Miller, a Sensenbrenner spokesman, said there will be more 70 co-sponsors in the House.

The legislation would end the NSA's bulk collection of U.S. phone records, strengthen prohibitions against targeting the communications of Americans and require the government to more aggressively delete information accidentally collected on Americans. The bill would also create a special advocate's office tasked with arguing in favor of stronger privacy protections before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 

The NSA will have to defend its powers on Capitol Hill as it also faces fierce criticism from one of its usual supporters, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Feinstein ripped the NSA Monday, issuing a statement saying she is "totally opposed" to the agency spying on leaders of allied nations.

"Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers," she said in a statement. "The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort."

She said it is a "big problem" that President Obama was only recently informed that the NSA was spying on the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Feinstein said her committee will conduct a "total review" of the issue.

Feinstein's statement is a split from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who defended the NSA's surveillance of foreign leaders on the Sunday talk shows.

Expect the latest developments to make Tuesday afternoon's hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on possible NSA reforms especially interesting.

Wheeler update: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has filed cloture to hold a vote on Tom Wheeler, the president's nominee for Federal Communications Commission chairman. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had promised to block Wheeler unless the nominee provided more information about his views on political disclosure requirements. Cruz's office did not respond to a request to comment Monday. 

Obama to meet CEOs on cybersecurity: President Obama will meet with CEOs from the financial, energy, defense and information technology sectors Tuesday to discuss cybersecurity and the implementation of his executive order, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology proposed cybersecurity guidelines for critical infrastructure last week as part of the implementation of the executive order. 

HP opens DC office: Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman will be in D.C. this week for the opening of the company's office here. The office, located in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area, will open on Wednesday and be led by Maria Cino.

Whitman, a Republican who lost her bid for the governorship of California in 2010, will also meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week.

FCC tries to fix rural calls: The Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted an order Monday aimed at improving the completion rate of rural phone calls.

The rules require phone companies to collect information about failing to complete long-distance rural calls. FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said the order will help the FCC "investigate and crack down on call completion problems."

The action won praise from rural state lawmakers, including Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), who first urged the agency to investigate the problem.

“This is a positive step forward, and I hope it will give the Commission additional tools to stop the bad actors failing to complete calls to rural areas," Johnson said in a statement. 

Mobile tracking code: The Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized the new privacy-enhancing code of conduct agreed to by in-store tracking companies last week. The privacy group criticized the fact that customers have to opt out of the system when “many users may not be aware of this kind of tracking in the first place, much less whether any particular retailer is tracking them.”

Additionally, the code’s requirement that there be signs telling customers that they’re being tracked is weak, the group said, because “it depends on the retailers, which are not party to this agreement, to implement in-store signage providing notice of the tracking.”

Goodlatte’s patent bill problems: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s recently introduced patent reform bill could make it harder for patent holders to protect their intellectual property rights, according to Russ Merbeth, chief policy counsel at Intellectual Ventures. Intellectual Ventures is often accused of bringing unmerited patent lawsuits based on vague and overly broad patent infringement claims.

Intellectual Ventures took issue with a provision in Goodlatte’s bill that limits the scope of documents an entity can request of the company it's suing for patent infringement. If the company bringing the suit can only ask for a certain amount of information from the other party, the “initial claim construction rulings will be based on limited information, and as a result, will be less effective in helping the plaintiff and the defendant reach an agreement,” Merbeth said in a statement.

The group also raised concerns about a provision that would require the entities bringing the lawsuits to be more transparent about their infringement claims and financial interests. “Defendants seeking to game the system would be able to drag out the litigation by filing serial motions challenging whether an infringement claim meets” the new transparency standards, Merbeth said.

 

ON TAP:

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s patent bill. 

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

U.S. prosecutors accused a British man of hacking into U.S. military systems and stealing "massive quantities of confidential data."

Patent reform bills should provide companies with a way to challenge overly board harmful patents, a group of trade associations from various industries said in letters to the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) will reintroduce their bill to reduce online tracking of young Internet users in the coming weeks.

All applications for ObamaCare insurance must eventually be processed through the government website, which has been plagued by glitches and errors.

Hackers appeared to compromise a tool used by President Obama's social media accounts.

 

Please send tips and comments to Brendan Sasso,bsasso@thehill.com, and Kate Tummarello, katet@thehill.com.

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