This week in tech: House looks at cybersecurity of electrical grid

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The Senate is preparing to vote on a cybersecurity bill that would give the Homeland Security Department regulatory authority over companies with computer systems crucial to the nation's economic and physical security.

The bill would require that the companies take adequate precautions to safeguard their systems, and would increase information-sharing about cyber threats between the private sector and the government.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring the legislation straight to the Senate floor, skipping any committee markups. Several leading GOP senators have argued that the legislation should be reworked in committee, but the bill's supporters say Congress must move quickly to address the threat of cyber attacks. The supporters note that Congress has been working on the cybersecurity issue for several years.

Cybersecurity legislation in the House has focused mostly on providing incentives for industry to share information on threats and attacks, rather than creating new regulatory powers.

In other technology news this week, the American Television Alliance (ATVA) will host an event Monday on Capitol Hill to discuss the future of television and appropriate government regulations.

ATVA staff will moderate the discussion between Professor Thomas Hazlett of George Mason University, Professor Philip Napoli of Fordham Business School and Professor Danilo Yanich of the University of Delaware.

The House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight will hold a Wednesday hearing on NASA cybersecurity. The agency's chief information officer and inspector general will testify. A committee spokesman explained that some of NASA's technologies could be turned into weapons if they fall into the wrong hands. He added that the agency has "large and complex networks that challenge its ability to secure information."

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies will hold a hearing to examine the budget of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. The office is responsible for advising the president on science and technology policy. The office's director, John Holdren, will testify. 

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