This Week in Tech: Senate set to approve FCC nominees

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Although the FCC moved to block the network earlier this year over concerns that it would interfere with GPS devices, Grassley questioned why the FCC allowed the firm to get as far as it did in the regulatory process. He demanded to see FCC documents to determine whether LightSquared benefited from favoritism.

Grassley agreed to lift his hold when Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rockefeller provided him with documents they had received from the FCC.

The GOP senator said he plans to continue his investigation into LightSquared but will allow a vote on the nominees because there is a “process in place” to obtain the rest of the documents.

“I am glad that the unreasonable hold against two qualified and smart FCC nominees, Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai, has been lifted,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

Because of Grassley’s hold, the five-seat commission has been operating with only three members since the beginning of the year.

In other tech happenings, the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday will examine the Obama administration’s plan to protect online privacy.

A senior Federal Trade Commission (FTC) official and Cameron Kerry, the Commerce Department's general counsel and brother of committee member Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), are expected to testify.

The White House announced its “Privacy Bill of Rights” in February. The guidelines declare that consumers have the right to control the data that groups collect on them and the right to access that data. The administration said privacy policies should be easy to understand and companies should protect user data from hacking and leaks.

The administration has urged Congress to enact the guidelines into law.

In March, the FTC released its own report on online privacy that outlined voluntary standards that companies should adopt. The commission also recommended that Congress enact certain protections into law.

“Unfortunately, consumers are often unable to protect their privacy in a digital environment in which their personal information is increasingly collected and monetized for commercial purposes,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

He said he hopes to examine “how the administration and FTC propose to empower Americans so that they can say if, when and how their information is collected and used.”

On Wednesday morning, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a joint subcommittee hearing on first-responder technology. Officials from the Homeland Security Department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the New York City Fire Department and the Pasco County, Fla., Office of Emergency Management will testify.

Congress set aside funding and wireless frequencies to build a national broadband network for first-responders as part of the payroll tax cut extension approved earlier this year. It could take years, however, before that technology is available for emergency personnel.