OVERNIGHT TECH: Tech companies expand lobbying efforts

The Recording Industry Association of America spent a little over $1 million on lobbying in the last three months of 2012, down from roughly $1.3 million during the same time period a year earlier when the battle over the Stop Online Piracy Act was still raging. The recording industry said it lobbied during the fourth quarter on issues ranging from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, enforcement of copyright laws and digital royalty rates.

Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Association of America doled out $380,000 during the fourth quarter of 2012, down from $850,000 during the same period a year ago. The MPAA lobbied Congress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, IP enforcement and video privacy rules. The movie industry, which has come under criticism for violent content, also lobbied the congressional gun control task force.

CTIA-The Wireless Association spent $3.4 million in the fourth quarter, up slightly from the previous year. The National Association of Broadcasters spent $3.3 million, down a bit from 2011.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association is one of the biggest spenders in the tech industry. The group spent $5.9 million in the quarter, bringing its total for the year to $18.9 million. 

Huawei, the Chinese telecom firm accused of being a security threat, spent $160,000 in the final quarter, bringing its total for the year to $1.2 million.

Netflix is still small compared to the industry giants, but the company ramped up its lobbying in the fourth quarter, successfully pushing Congress to loosen video privacy regulations. The company spent $470,000 in the fourth quarter, more than double the $175,000 it spent at the end of 2011.

Norquist blasts online sales tax: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist unveiled a campaign against online sales tax legislation on Wednesday.

His group has a new website, TaxesWithoutBorders.org, and a petition urging lawmakers to oppose the legislation.

"We had a whole revolution against no taxation without representation. State legislators and mayors love the idea of taxing people in other states who can't vote against them ... [they] just think it's a great idea to be able to go after people who can't vote against you," Norquist said at the State of the Net Conference. "I think it's extremely dangerous."

Supporters of the legislation, which would allow states to tax online purchases, say it will close a loophole that benefits online giants over local retailers.

New features added to Congress.gov: The Library of Congress announced on Wednesday that users of Congress.gov can now access the Congressional Record and Congressional Budget Office reports on the site.

Congress.gov, a legislative information and tracking site, was launched last September to eventually replace the THOMAS system. The site is currently still in beta testing, but is open to the public.

“By integrating these new features, people can target their searches to find a bill, corresponding floor statements and cost estimates — all from a single search results page," Jim Karamanis, the Library’s head of Web services, said in a statement.

Joint hearing planned on International Internet regulation: Two House subcommittees will hold a joint hearing next month to examine international efforts to regulate the Internet.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House subcommittee on Communications and Technology, told reporters on Wednesday that his panel will hold the hearing on Feb. 5 with the House Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

House Judiciary announces subcommittee assignments: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Warrantless wiretapping reform legislation circulates on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Va.) on Wednesday announced the GOP members assigned to head up the committee's five subpanels this Congress.

Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) will chair the influential subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, which has weighed hot-button copyright and patent issues. The subpanel, which was formerly chaired by Goodlatte, will be a key one to watch as the battle over modifying royalty rules for Internet radio stations continues this year.

Cybersecurity a priority for Democrats: A coalition of leading Senate Democrats said on Wednesday that enacting legislation to better protect the nation's critical computer systems from hackers will be a priority this year.

Sens. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGun proposal picks up GOP support Gingrich: Banning rapid fire gun modification is ‘common sense’ House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick Infrastructure spending bill sliding down agenda MORE (D-Del.), the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, introduced a resolution on Wednesday stating that gaps in cybersecurity "pose one of the most serious and rapidly growing threats to both the national security and the economy of the United States."

Two-thirds of police requests for Google data lacked warrant: Google said on Wednesday that 68 percent of the U.S. government's requests for users' information were without a warrant.

The company said that just 22 percent of the requests used a search warrant, and 10 percent relied on court orders or other processes.

From July to December 2012, Google received 21,389 U.S. government requests for information about 33,634 users. The company said it complied with about 88 percent of those requests.

Scalise argues regulating Web companies threatens Internet freedom: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee, argued on Wednesday that regulation of up and coming Web companies should be viewed as "attacks on Internet freedom at large."

Speaking at the State of the Net conference in Washington, Scalise encouraged lawmakers and federal agencies to use a light touch on governing the Internet, saying that it has flourished on its own over the years.

"When there isn't market failure, the government should just stay away," Scalise said. "These efforts to regulate important stakeholders across the entire Internet ecosystem should be viewed as attacks on Internet freedom at large."

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