This Week in Tech: House panel prepares to overhaul FCC

The legislation would require the FCC to identify a market failure, consumer harm or regulatory barrier before adopting new regulations. The agency would have to then demonstrate that the benefits of its proposed regulations outweigh their costs. The bills would codify the FCC's informal "shot clock" for its reviews so parties could know when to expect decisions.

The bills would also restrict the types of conditions that the FCC could impose on corporate mergers, only allowing the agency to address specific harms related to the proposed deals. Some lawmakers criticized the FCC for requiring Comcast to make commitments, such as offering channels aimed at racial minorities, to receive approval for its purchase of NBC Universal last year.

"Although [FCC] Chairman [Julius] Genachowski has made good progress in improving process, only statutory changes can ensure that best practices continue from one administration to the next," committee staff said in a memo to lawmakers.

The memo also criticized the FCC for its handling of an order to transition its Universal Service Fund to a subsidy for broadband Internet access.

"The commission added hundreds of pages of documents into the record at the last minute, giving parties almost no time to respond. And the commission did not release the text of the adopted order for three weeks, providing Washington insiders ample time to lobby the commission for further changes to the order after its 'adoption,' " the staffers wrote.

Lawmakers will give their opening statements for the markup on Monday afternoon.

Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election More Senate Republicans pressure Treasury over debt-equity rules Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (R-Nev.) has sponsored companion legislation in the Senate, but an aide on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC, told The Hill that the panel has no plans to take up the measure.

In other technology news, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz will testify before the House Appropriations Committee on Monday afternoon to discuss his agency's budget.

The FTC has taken a leading role in enforcing online privacy protections, reaching settlements with both Facebook and Google last year over charges that the Web companies violated their own privacy policies. Privacy advocates urged the FTC to stop Google from changing its privacy policy, but the agency declined to step in and the changes went into effect on March 1.

The FTC is also probing whether Google has violated antitrust law.

The House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee on Technology and Innovation will examine the budget of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in a hearing on Tuesday. Dr. Patrick Gallagher, the head of NIST, will testify. The president requested a budget of $857 million, an increase of $106.2 million, for the agency.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a Wednesday hearing on cybersecurity. No witnesses have been announced yet for the hearing.

Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) appointed three Democrats and three Republicans to a working group last month to study potential cybersecurity legislation.

The Senate is preparing to vote on legislation that would give the Homeland Security Department regulatory authority to require that private computer networks deemed critical to national security meet certain cybersecurity standards.

A group of Republican senators, led by John McCainJohn McCainLots of (just) talk about 'draining the swamp' 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race Is Georgia turning blue? MORE (Ariz.), offered a competing proposal that aims to improve information sharing between government and the private sector and better secure government systems. Cybersecurity proposals in the House have also avoided creating new regulatory powers.

The White House said Friday that cybersecurity legislation should give authorities the power to protect critical infrastructure.