This Week in Tech: NSA transparency

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss increasing transparency in U.S. surveillance programs.

The hearing will by led by subcommittee Chairman Al Franken (D-Minn.), who recently reintroduced his Surveillance Transparency Act. The bill would increase government reporting requirements and allow companies to report more information about the surveillance requests they receive.

“Right now, the public isn’t getting the most basic information about what’s going on with government surveillance programs,” Franken said in a statement.

“That needs to change. This bill goes a long way toward giving Americans the transparency they deserve, and I look forward to discussing it in my subcommittee.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who reintroduced the bill with Franken, will testify at the hearing.

Other witnesses include Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Brad Wiegmann, deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice’s National Security Division; Richard Salgado, Google’s director of Law Enforcement and Information Security, and Kevin Bankston, from the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Tom Wheeler will lead his first meeting as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday.

The agency will vote on a proposal to loosen rules restricting foreign ownership of broadcast TV stations. The commission will also receive reports on the implementation of reforms to its Universal Service Fund and on its plan to measure wireless broadband speeds.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a Wednesday afternoon hearing to examine “challenges and opportunities” in the 5 GHz spectrum band, which the FCC plans to use to improve Wi-Fi performance.

The hearing will feature testimony from representatives for the FCC, Cisco, Toyota and Comcast.

And on Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing on the impact of patent assertion entities. PAEs, sometimes called patent trolls, are the companies that use their patents to threaten or file patent infringement lawsuits.