OVERNIGHT TECH: FTC chief, NSA civil liberties officer to talk privacy

THE LEDE: Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Rebecca Richards, privacy and civil liberties officer at the National Security Agency, will speak during separate sessions at Thursday’s privacy summit, hosted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

Ramirez — whose question and answer session with Morrison Foerster partner Reed Freeman begins at 11 a.m. — will touch on the privacy issues currently in front of her agency, including data security protections for consumer data in light of recent high-profile data breaches that affected tens of millions of consumers, according to an agency spokesman.

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The chairwoman will likely call for baseline privacy legislation as well as echo previous calls from her and other commissioners for federal data security legislation that would solidify and expand the agency’s authority to bring enforcement action against companies that fail to adequately protect consumer data, the spokesman said. Ramirez will also address privacy concerns in the realms of connected devices, mobile devices and “big data,” according to the spokesman.

At 3:45 p.m., Richards will talk privacy with Danny Weitzner, former deputy chief technology office for the White House. Richards joined the agency in the newly created position of civil liberties and privacy officer earlier this year. Prior to joining the agency, she worked as the senior director for privacy compliance at the Department of Homeland Security.

Richards’s session Thursday will focus on her role at the intelligence agency, which has been in the spotlight since reports of sweeping surveillance first surfaced last year.

Online sales tax hearing rescheduled: The House Judiciary Committee will hold its postponed hearing on an online sales tax Wednesday, March 12, according to a committee aide. The hearing — which will take place at 10 a.m. in Rayburn 2141 and will be webcast on the committee’s site — will focus on “exploring alternative solutions to the online sales tax issue.”

Though the Senate passed an online sales tax bill last year that would for the first time enable states to collect a sales tax on online purchases made by residents from out-of-state vendors, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has said he plans to look at the issues independent of the Senate bill and last year released a set of principles to govern any online legislation in front of his committee.

Big data review opens to the public: The White House is formally calling for the public to weigh in on its review of “big data.” The Office of Science and Technology Policy on Tuesday published a request for information to support its oversight of the way vast quantities of information are analyzed, as part of a broader review of surveillance.

“Once complete, the review will result in a report that anticipates future technological trends and frames the key questions that the collection, analysis, and use of ‘big data’ raise for our government and nation,” the office said in the Federal Register notice.

President Obama announced the inquiry into the subject in the January speech that also outlined reforms to the National Security Agency. The ability of companies to collect and analyze detailed information about consumers has the ability to help a variety of sectors, though it has also raised concerns about peoples’ privacy. White House officials have met with privacy advocates to discuss the issue, and on Monday the administration held the first in a series of workshops at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Report calls for cops on 'deep web' to fight child abuse: Law enforcement needs to be aware of the potential for children to be sexually exploited on the murkier corners of the Internet, the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children warned in a new report. The survey, produced along with Thomson Reuters, noted that the growth of virtual currencies like bitcoin, along with networks designed to let people move anonymously, “opens the door to those who seek new and profitable avenues to perpetrate illicit activities.

“The child pornography and sexual exploitation industries, in particular, are moving outside of traditional economic mechanisms and into the shadows of the digital world,” the report added.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) hosted an event on the report on Capitol Hill. The committee is working on a report about the possible benefits and perils of virtual currency, set for release this spring.

“No one knows how virtual currencies will evolve, or what type of government response may be needed in the long term,” Carper said in a statement. “That’s why I believe that the government, academics, and the private sector must continue to work together to better understand this technology.”

App firms work toward open source privacy code: The Applications Developers Alliance and Intuit are teaming up to unveil an open source code for user-friendly privacy notices that comply with the code of conduct crafted by privacy advocates and the tech industry last year. The code aims to help app creators comply with the set of voluntary standards and incorporate “privacy screens,” which tell users how user data is being collected, used and shared.

“The at-a-glance notices will empower consumers to make informed app choices, making clear what information the app is collecting and how it is being used,” Jon Potter, the trade group’s president, said in a statement. Intuit is developing and testing the code. After that process is complete, it will release it through the trade group’s research center for developers and other platforms.

Telcos hire new lobbyists: The U.S. Telecom Association last month brought on lobbyists at Simmons and Russell to help with “issues related to telecommunications policy and taxations,” according to a registration form released this week. The two partners, Robert Russell and Kyle Simmons, formerly served as chiefs of staff to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who heads the Commerce subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), respectively.

Simmons and Russell recently split from the First Group, another K Street firm.

 

ON TAP

The House Science subcommittees on Oversight and Research and Technology will hold a joint hearing on cybercrime starting at 9:30 a.m.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez answers questions at the privacy summit at 11:00 a.m. The NSA’s Rebecca Richards is talking at 3:45 p.m.

White House, Commerce Department and Homeland Security officials will discuss the administration’s cybersecurity framework at an event hosted by Bloomberg Government at 2:00 p.m.

 

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