OVERNIGHT TECH: NSA nominee heads to Hill

THE LEDE: President Obama’s nominee to lead the National Security Agency (NSA) is likely to run into pushback about the agency on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Vice Adm. Mike Rogers, who would also be taking over as the head of the U.S. Cyber Command, will testify in the Senate Armed Services Committee alongside Gen. Paul Selva, Obama’s nominee for commander of the Transportation Command.

The spy agency’s controversial surveillance programs are likely to be a central focus of the hearing. Staffers with Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the committee’s ranking member, both said they expected the issue to come up. A spokesman with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who has often been a critic of the NSA’s programs, said that the senator is planning on raising his concerns about the government’s snooping on Tuesday.

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In a statement, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said he is "very interested in hearing how Admiral Rogers plans to address privacy and civil liberty concerns if he is confirmed."

"I have significant privacy and Fourth Amendment concerns related to the data collection programs administered by the NSA. This should be a high priority of the next Director," he said.

The director of the NSA is not a position that needs confirmation by the Senate, but Rogers will need the chamber’s blessing to take over as the commander of the U.S. Cyber Command.

Rogers, a cryptology expert, has spent more than 30 years in the Navy, and has led the service’s cyber command since 2011. Before that, he was director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. Pacific Command. Though he will be entering the post at a time of great upheaval at the NSA, he is a relative unknown to privacy and civil liberties advocates.

President Obama has called for reforms to the NSA in coming weeks, after documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden led to an outrage around the world and created a diplomatic headache for the president. Rogers will be tasked with implementing adjustments to the agency’s routine collection of Americans’ phone records, among other efforts. 

He takes over for Gen. Keith Alexander, who has served as head of the agency for nearly nine years, the longest tenure for an NSA director. Rogers shares his name with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a Republican congressman from Michigan. 

FCC to tackle retrans, spectrum: During its monthly open meeting later this month, the Federal Communications Commission will take up four items related to spectrum and the market for broadcast programming, the agency announced Monday.

Regarding broadcast programming, the commission will consider an item that would change the way broadcasters negotiate with cable and satellite companies over compensation for the ability to air broadcast content. It will also consider an order from Chairman Tom Wheeler, announced last week, that would change the agency’s broadcast ownership rules, which prevent one broadcast company from owning more than one of the top four broadcast stations in any market. Under the rules Wheeler announced last week, broadcast companies that own one station but share certain resources with another station would be classified as owning both stations.

The commission will also consider two items related to the availability of airwaves: one that would make an unlicensed part of the 5 GHz band “more useful for consumers and businesses,” and another that would establish “allocation, licensing, service and technical rules” for the agency’s upcoming auction of AWS-3 band of spectrum. The meeting will take place on March 31 and will be livestreamed on the agency’s website.

Free Press to testify on video law: Matt Wood, director of policy at Free Press, has been added to the list of witnesses for Wednesday’s hearing on reauthorizing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, which governs the video marketplace, being held by the House Commerce subcommittee on Communications. 

The hearing will also include testimony from Michael Powell, former FCC chairman and president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and executives from DirecTV, TiVo and Indiana-based media company Schurz Communications. Last week, subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) circulated a discussion draft of a bill that would tweak the video marketplace and reauthorize the satellite bill, which expires at the end of this year.

Former member pushes back on online gambling ban: Congress banning online gambling would be “the wrong policy for American families,” former Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) wrote in an op-ed for The Hill on Monday. Citing his experience in the FBI and as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Oxley urged members of Congress to push back on any attempts to ban online gambling for money.

A federal ban on online gambling would put at risk the Americans that gamble online for money regardless of the activity’s legal status, he said. “The risk of exposure to identity theft, fraud, even money laundering on an unsafe, unregulated, overseas black-market website is serious. And ignoring that black market, rather than addressing it will only make us less safe,” Oxley wrote.

He pointed to the experiences of the three states that have legalized online gambling within their borders: Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. “Congress’s response should not be to roll back these consumer protections in favor of some sort of modern-day prohibition,” he wrote.

Comcast, Sony reach content deal: Comcast and Sony have reached a deal that will allow the former to sell the latter’s programming, including the first season of “House of Cards,” to Comcast subscribers, Variety reports. Through its Xfinity store, Comcast will sell episodes of the Netflix show as well as early-release Sony films, according to the report.

EFF names new patent chairman: The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced Monday that staff attorney Daniel Nazer is the new “Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents.” That position — funded by Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban — was recently vacated by Julie Samuels, who left the Internet advocacy group to be executive director of startup policy group Engine Advocacy.

In a statement, Nazer said he looks forward to building on Samuels’s work as the issue of patent litigation reform continues to gain steam. "The next few months could see new legislation, important Supreme Court decisions and action from the president,” he said. “We need to make sure we get real reform that stops the flood of abusive patent troll litigation.”

 

ON TAP:

At 9:00 a.m. former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is delivering the keynote address at a government IP symposium in Washington.

Rogers will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will explore” open government” and “reinvigorating the Freedom of Information Act for the digital age” at a hearing at 10:15 a.m.

The consumer interest group Public Knowledge is hosting a panel on Capitol Hill about the transition to new phone wires with a variety of tech and consumer officials later in the morning.

Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank, is speaking at the Chamber of Commerce in the middle of the day.

In the evening, tech company chief executives will participate in a roundtable discussion on ways to grow “the data economy.”

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) plans to introduce legislation to prevent a “takeover” of the Internet by the United Nations or another government regime.

Government surveillance programs are “setting fire to the future of the Internet,” former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said Monday in a rare video interview.

Mt. Gox, which used to be the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection late Sunday.

 

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