OVERNIGHT TECH: Wheeler to talk tech

The lede: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler will spend most of the rest of this week engaging with the tech community and talking telecom policy.

As part of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Wheeler will sit down with Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, on Wednesday to talk “spectrum issues, developments in broadband, competition policy and other critical issues impacting the consumer electronics industry.”

In the few weeks he has been in office, Wheeler has moved the ball on high-profile consumer electronics issues, including indicating support for cellphone use on airplanes and bringing the wireless companies together in an agreement on cellphone unlocking.

The commission is also preparing for its spectrum auctions, including the highly anticipated incentive auction. That auction will involve broadcasters selling their spectrum licenses to the federal government, which will repackage and resell those licenses to spectrum-hungry wireless companies. Wheeler said late last year that the incentive auction will take place in 2015, despite the commission’s initial plans to conduct the auction in 2014.

On Thursday, Wheeler heads to Silicon Valley, where he will speak at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

“The FCC’s approach to regulation, technology innovation and market growth is of critical importance to Silicon Valley and the nation, and this will be the first opportunity for West Coast audiences to hear from Chairman Wheeler personally since his confirmation,” according to the museum.

Later that day, he will head to Oakland to participate in a town hall and visit the Edna Brewer Middle School, according to the agency. The school is a beneficiary of E-Rate, the FCC’s program to provide schools and other educational institutions with funding for Internet access.

WH surveillance reforms looming: The White House is meeting with lawmakers Wednesday and is expected to meet with privacy groups and tech companies later in the week as it considers recommendations for surveillance reforms put forward by a panel of privacy and security experts it convened last year. President Obama is expected to announce his evaluation of the recommendations this month.

Gambling group repeats calls for online games: The federal government should revise its position on online gambling to prevent Americans from using unsafe offshore sites, according to the head of the American Gaming Association.

Geoff Freeman wrote on The Hill's Congress Blog on Tuesday that the current “prohibition” against online gambling “has succeeded only in creating a thriving black market that places consumers at risk.”

Three states have legalized online gambling, but attempts to follow suit in Congress have failed so far. Lawmakers should pass a bill to legalize and regulate the games, Freeman wrote, to generate billions in tax dollars, create new jobs and protect consumers. 

Patent office calls “Redskins” product offense: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office won’t approve an application for “Redskins Hog Rinds” because the name is offensive, it said.

The decision could have repercussions for the Washington Redskins, which has come under fire over its name. The word is considered to be derogatory towards Native Americans.

The trademark office is currently weighing whether or not to repeal the trademark on the football team’s name. A decision to revoke the trademark would effectively force the team to change names.

“Given that ‘REDSKINS’ in the mark is a derogatory slang term that refers to, and is considered offensive by, American Indians, registration of the applied-for mark must be refused,” the board said in a letter dated Dec. 29.

It cited four definitions of the name, four of which noted the term was “offensive” or “disparaging.” 

EU reconsiders copyright law: European officials want the public to weigh in on the European Union’s copyright policy. For the first time in 15 years, the European Commission is opening up a public comment period to hear criticism and suggested revisions to the body’s copyright laws.

Officials at the Internet advocacy organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation are urging people to get involved.

“The more comments the Commission receive [sic] about the problems with over-restrictive copyright rules, the harder it will be for them to ignore it as an issue,” the group said in a blog post on Tuesday.



Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission Maureen Ohlhausen is presenting at CES on “The Internet of Things and the Home of the Future,” at 10:30 a.m. local. That’s 1:30 p.m. on the East Coast.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will sit down for a conversation at CES about efforts to spur growth, at 11:30 a.m.

Wheeler gets interviewed at 2:30 p.m. local time in Las Vegas.

The four other commissioners on the FCC will discuss the commission’s 2014 regulatory agenda during a panel that begins at 3:45 pm.



President Obama will meet with lawmakers and leaders of the intelligence community later this week before he announces the results of his review of the nation's surveillance program. 

A House Democrat who represents Silicon Valley slammed an AT&T move that she says threatens the openness of the Internet. 

Lawyers for Kanye West have filed cease and desist orders to halt creation of the virtual currency Coinye West.

Lawmakers in California want to block state agencies and universities from assisting the National Security Agency

Japanese automaker Toyota unveiled a hydrogen-powered car at CES. 


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