OVERNIGHT TECH: Homeland Security panel approves overhauled cybersecurity bill

THE LEDE: The House Homeland Security Committee voted on Wednesday to approve an overhauled version of a cybersecurity bill from Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.). 

Lungren scaled back the bill, known as the PRECISE Act, in an attempt to appease GOP House leaders, who made it clear that they wouldn't support any bill that would create new regulations for cybersecurity.

ADVERTISEMENT
Lungren removed provisions from his bill that would have required critical infrastructure systems, such as electrical grids or water supplies, to meet mandatory security standards.

The bill would still allow the Homeland Security Department to help critical infrastructure companies protect their networks, but the system would be entirely voluntary.

"I am not going to suggest that it was poorly written or with wrong intent," Lungren said of the old version of his bill during the markup. But he said he dropped the regulatory provisions "in an effort for us to proceed" and for the House Homeland Security Committee "to put some stamp" on the cybersecurity debate.

Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) said that overhauling the bill was a "long, hard decision," but that if the committee tried to move forward with new regulations "we will be cut out of the process."

ADVERTISEMENT
But Democrats criticized the GOP lawmakers for abandoning their original bill.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) accused the Republicans of "aiming low" and said the committee was making hard decisions for the GOP leadership. 

"I don't know if we have the time to kick the can down the road," Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) said.

The House is set to vote on several pieces of cybersecurity legislation next week, and lawmakers have dubbed it "cyber week." It is unclear whether the PRECISE Act will be one of them.

Verizon offers to sell off spectrum to save cable deal: Verizon said Wednesday it is willing to auction off some of its spectrum licenses if regulators approve its deal with a coalition of cable companies. 

But T-Mobile, which opposes the deal, panned the announcement.

Tom Sugrue, T-Mobile's vice president of government affairs, said:

“Verizon’s announced plan to sell lower 700 MHz spectrum contingent on approval of its spectrum transaction with the cable companies is a tactical ploy designed to divert attention from its attempt to foreclose competitors from being able to acquire [Advanced Wireless Services] spectrum — the last swath of immediately usable mobile broadband spectrum likely to be available in the near term. This proposed sale does not mitigate the competitive harms created by Verizon’s pending transaction with the cable companies that would add to its spectrum warehouse.” 

Facebook to participate in White House event on women in technology: Facebook might be taking notice of the campaign looking to push the company to add a woman to its board — Hillicon Valley has learned that Jocelyn Goldfein, Facebook's director of engineering, will participate in an April 24 White House event on women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The event will be live-streamed on the White House's own Facebook page, and viewers will be able to submit questions.

ACA applauds TV hearing: The American Cable Association is pleased with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)'s decision to hold a hearing on the future of television. In a statement, CEO Matt Polka pointed out "that the rules that regulate cable operators and broadcasters today are more than 20 years old and were created before some of the services that the panelists offer even existed." Polka also said: "We appreciate that the Senate panel has started a discussion on reviewing the video industry to get a better understanding of where it is headed, and hopefully how existing rules and regulations need to be updated.”


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The wireless industry told Congress it still needs more spectrum.

The FCC asked the Supreme Court to uphold its fine of CBS over the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called on Congress to hold a hearing on Google's collection of data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks.

The White House criticized a House cybersecurity bill.