By Jennifer Martinez and Brendan Sasso - 07/10/12 10:31 PM EDT
The Lede: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is meeting with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and his staff on Wednesday to discuss whether a compromise can be reached on cybersecurity provisions dealing with critical infrastructure operators. Kyl has been working with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on a compromise framework that aims to bridge the divide in the Senate on setting security standards for companies that operate critical infrastructure, such as water systems and telecommunications networks.
The outcome of the meeting will affect the future of the compromise effort spearheaded by Whitehouse and Kyl. Winning the Chamber's support would make the framework more palatable to GOP senators on the fence about supporting security standards for critical infrastructure. With no sign of a compromise between Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) on their rival cybersecurity bills in sight, the framework could present the best chance for the Senate to break its impasse on cybersecurity.
The Chamber has spoken out against provisions in Lieberman's cybersecurity bill that would require operators of critical infrastructure to meet new security standards developed in part by the Homeland Security Department. The powerful business lobby and supporters of McCain's Secure It Act argue that these provisions would shift industry's attention away from securing its systems and networks to complying with new security mandates.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a co-sponsor of Lieberman's cybersecurity bill, said the framework has been "very helpful" in developing critical infrastructure measures "that appealed to a number of Republicans."
"It's a way forward," Rockefeller said of the compromise framework. "I think the secret is to relax Republicans — this is not a government takeover."
Rockefeller disagreed that the Whitehouse-Kyl framework watered down the critical infrastructure provisions in the Lieberman bill, saying it's "giving inducements" instead. But he also emphasized the importance of critical infrastructure standards being a part of any cybersecurity legislation coming out of the Senate.
Lawmakers ask for details on government spectrum use: A bipartisan group of House Energy and Commerce Committee lawmakers asked Larry Strickling, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), on Tuesday to provide details about how the federal government uses the airwaves.
The lawmakers, who are members of the committee's Federal Spectrum Working Group, said freeing up underused radio spectrum could help commercial providers meet the booming demand for wireless data.
"Finding more efficient ways for the government to use this valuable public asset without compromising critical objectives would not only produce dividends for government agencies, but also inject additional resources into the private sector to spur out economy," the lawmakers wrote.
They asked Strickling to list all of the frequency bands used by the federal government and to describe how the agencies use the frequencies.
Lawmakers who signed the letter include Reps Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). Many of the same lawmakers touted the importance of freeing up spectrum for mobile broadband at Tuesday's oversight hearing of the Federal Communications Commission.
Senate Judiciary to take a look at patents: On Wednesday morning the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the use of standards-essential patents, which companies are required to license on a fair basis and have recently been the subject of heated battles between mobile companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly has opened an investigation into Google's use of the patents. Slated to testify at the hearing are Joseph Wayland, acting assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, and FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez.
TPP IP chapter to be continued in September: The latest round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations came to a close on Tuesday in San Diego. However, work on the trade agreement's intellectual property chapter will be continued at the next round of talks in September in Leesburg, Va. The United States put forward a new IP proposal during the San Diego round that included language on limitations and exceptions for copyrights, a move lauded by cyber liberties advocates that have been critical of the agreement. Canada and Mexico also took steps during this round to join the nine countries — including Singapore and Australia — participating in the negotiations of the trade agreement.
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