OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate to continue NSA scrutiny

THE LEDE: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

The hearing will be the committee's first since the introduction of Chairman Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) USA Freedom Act, which would limit the NSA's power.

The hearing was originally scheduled for last month but was postponed when Republican committee members boycotted the judicial nominee vote immediately prior to the hearing.

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The hearing will include testimony from National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Department of Justice Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole and Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Ed Black, CEO of the Computer & Communications Industry Association; Julian Sanchez, research fellow at the Cato Institute; and Carrie Cordero, a professor at Georgetown Law Center, will testify on a second panel.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, is pushing her own bill to preserve the NSA's power.

Nadler next in line: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) is next in line for the ranking member spot on the House Judiciary subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, which had been filled by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.). On Tuesday, the Senate approved Watt’s nomination to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Nadler — the second most senior House Judiciary Democrat — is currently the ranking member on the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. A Judiciary aide said committee members will likely meet early next year to organize subcommittee assignments.

Digital Trade Act: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill Tuesday to establish principles for U.S. trade negotiations to protect the ability of American tech companies to do business abroad. 

“It is imperative that the U.S. fight for strong rules to ensure that American businesses have the freedom to compete and innovate all around the world,” Thune said in a statement. “Our common-sense legislation would establish important negotiating principles for international agreements affecting Internet-enabled commerce.” 

Wyden said the bill would combat “out-dated trade rules” that threaten the growth of American tech companies “by providing opportunities for protectionist policies overseas.” 

“The U.S. has the opportunity to establish new trade rules that preserve the Internet as a platform to share ideas and for expanding commerce and this legislation aims to help achieve these goals,” he said. 

Poker hearing highlights privacy concerns: Tuesday’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Trade hearing on online poker touched on members’ concerns about digital privacy. If consumers can gamble online, there need to be “high standards of privacy,” ranking member Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn — who chairs the committee’s Privacy Working Group —pressed the witnesses on what privacy protections could be put in place to protect online gamblers. “One of the things [members of the Working Group] have taken note of is how incredibly complex the expectations of privacy are” when it comes to online activity, the Tennessee Republican said.

Online gambling advocates told members that legalized American sites would provide users with more protections than offshore sites.

“A regulated market is going to far better protect consumers than the black markets, John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, said.

Privacy protections for online poker players would be “no different than they would be for any other e-commerce activity,” he said.

 

ON TAP

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on a bill to change the FCC's procedures at 12:00 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's NSA hearing is at 2:00 p.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The botched launch of the ObamaCare website has heightened worries that technical problems could cripple the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming auction of airwave licenses. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is suing the Justice Department for access to reports on a National Security Agency program that collected Internet records in bulk.

House members highlighted casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s seemingly contradicting positions on online gambling during a Tuesday hearing.

The California Department of Justice arrested a man Tuesday for operating a “revenge porn” website.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) calls Feinstein's NSA bill a "joke."

Silicon Valley warns NSA surveillance poses threat to overseas growth.

 

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