OVERNIGHT TECH: House set to approve tech visa bill

House Democrats have also criticized Smith's bill because it would eliminate the Diversity Visa program and wipe out a legal avenue of immigration to the United States. Immigrants from African nations have generally come to the U.S. through the program. 

The bill enjoys support from a broad swath of tech trade associations, which have been advocating for high-skilled immigration reform for years.

New faces on Energy and Commerce: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced the addition of five Republicans to the powerful panel on Thursday.

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Reps. Gus Bilirakis (Fla.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Ralph Hall (Texas), Bill Johnson (Ohio) and Billy Long (Mo.) will join the committee in the next Congress.

House considers receiver standards: The House subcommittee on Communications and Technology discussed on Thursday whether mandating performance standards for receivers could help free up more spectrum for mobile broadband.

Pierre de Vries, a fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should implement "harm-claim thresholds" — a level of interference that systems must tolerate without being able to bring a harmful interference claim. He said the new standard would "allow the FCC to incentivize improved system performance without mandating receiver performance standards."

Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) decided to call the hearing in light of the the FCC's decision earlier this year to deny LightSquared's application to launch a nationwide 4G service over concerns that it would interfere with GPS devices.

Tests showed LightSquared's signal did not bleed into the GPS band. Instead, the problem was that GPS receivers were too sensitive to filter out LightSquared's powerful cell towers operating on nearby frequencies.

"What happened to LightSquared — a promising company with plans to inject new competition into the wireless broadband market — is disappointing, but unfortunately that ship has sailed," California Rep. Anna Eshoo, the panel's ranking Democrat, said. "What’s just as unfortunate is that this isn’t the first time in which an incumbent has raised the problem of receiver overload."

She said if regulators can reconcile the competing goals of preventing interference and maximizing spectrum use, "consumers win, new entrants will have greater certainty before investing billions, and a thriving consumer electronics industry will not be unduly burdened."

Senate Judiciary to vote on location privacy bill: The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a markup of Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn.) Location Privacy Act for next Thursday.

The bill would require companies like Apple and Google to get a customer's consent before collecting or sharing their mobile location data.

Senate panel votes to require warrant for police email searches: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to require police to obtain a warrant before reading people's emails, Facebook messages and other forms of electronic communication.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the author of the bill and chairman of the committee, said he does not expect the full Senate to vote on the measure until next year.

US ambassador warns of 'shocking' Russia's telecom treaty proposals: The proposals Russia submitted for a global telecommunications treaty being negotiated next week could allow governments to review content flowing over Internet networks and open the door for online censorship, U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer told reporters on a conference call Thursday. 

Kramer called Russia's submission of treaty language "the most shocking" out of all the proposals submitted by countries participating in the treaty conference. He said Russia's proposal aims to give governments more control over the management of the Internet and how Web traffic is routed, which he argued runs counter to the focus of the treaty conference.  

Roll-out of copyright alert system delayed: The roll-out of a new copyright alert system designed to crack down on illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing of movies, music and other entertainment content has been delayed to the beginning of 2013.

Jill Lesser, the executive director of the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), said in a blog post that the delay was "due to unexpected factors largely stemming from Hurricane Sandy which have seriously affected our final testing schedules." 

Lawmakers say lax FAA rules on drones will put privacy at risk: Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) slammed the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday for failing to ensure that domestic drones will not invade the privacy of Americans. 

“FAA does not appear to be prioritizing privacy and transparency measures in its plan to integrate nonmilitary drones into U.S. airspace," Markey said in a statement. "While there are benefits to using drones to gather information for law enforcement and appropriate research purposes, drones shouldn’t be used to gather private information on regular Americans."

Syria suffers Internet blackout: Internet service and some cellular networks were blacked out in Syria on Thursday, disrupting communications traveling into and outside of the country, according to news reports.  


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