OVERNIGHT TECH: Online piracy battle keeps escalating

Spectrum bill could be included in payroll tax proposal: Republicans are considering including Rep. Greg Walden's (R-Ore.) spectrum bill in a proposal to extend the payroll tax holiday, Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office confirmed on Wednesday. The spectrum legislation, which could raise as much as $15 billion through government auctions of airwaves, could help offset the cost of extending a payroll tax holiday and federal unemployment benefits. Republicans have insisted that the payroll tax deal not increase the deficit.

Reps. Upton, Walden question FCC release of AT&T staff report: Two top GOP lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowki on Wednesday, questioning his decision to publicly release his agency's analysis of the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. In the letter, Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the subpanel on Communications and Technology, ask whether Genachowski consulted with the other commissioners and whether the FCC has ever released another report under similar circumstances.


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The Senate Commerce Committee will vote on President Obama's nominees to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission, a committee aide told The Hill. FCC nominees, Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel, are considered uncontroversial, but Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has promised to block them unless the FCC releases documents related to its review of wireless firm LightSquared. His hold would take effect when the nominations reach the Senate floor.

Obama has nominated Maureen Ohlhausen to the FTC and Jon Leibowitz to serve a second term as the agency's chairman.

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers's (ICANN) plan to expand top-level domains so almost any word can be used as the final part of a Web address. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz slammed the proposal in an interview with Hillicon on Wednesday.

The House Homeland Security Committee Transportation Security subcommittee will hold a noon hearing reviewing passenger-screening technology at U.S. airports. The technology used to screen passengers has drawn considerable scrutiny from privacy advocates who claim the scanners used can be invasive and that the data captured is ripe for abuse by federal officials.

Brendan Sasso contributed to this post.