OVERNIGHT TECH: FCC's Pai calls for looser media ownership rules

Chairman Julius Genachowski has circulated a proposal that would scale back the regulations, but Pai said that effort doesn't go far enough.

Genachowski's proposal would loosen the ban on companies owning both a newspaper and a TV station in a top 20 market, but would leave in place a cap on the number of radio and TV stations a company can own in the same markets.

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Pai criticized the proposal because it would count joint sales and shared services agreements under ownership limits. 

"As broadcasters’ share of the advertising market has shrunk in the digital age, television stations must be able to enter into innovative arrangements in order to operate efficiently," Pai said. 

Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell has made similar arguments in recent weeks.

Genachowski has also come under fire from liberal lawmakers who say his proposal would eliminate access to diverse media voices.

Chinese hackers hit Center for American Progress: Chinese hackers targeted the Center for American Progress, a spokeswoman for the liberal think tank told BuzzFeed on Thursday.

Hackers have also gone after The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Bloomberg News in recent weeks. 

Former FCC public safety chief heads to law firm: James Barnett, the former chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, will join the cybersecurity practice of law firm Venable LLP, the group said Thursday

Barnett, a retired rear admiral, will co-chair the firm's telecommunications group.


ON TAP

House Intel schedules cyber hearing: The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a hearing for next Thursday to discuss cyber threats facing the U.S. and current efforts to counter those threats. It will also review the state of information-sharing between the government and industry on cyber threats, as well as information-sharing among companies. Witnesses will include John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, Baltimore Gas & Electric CEO Ken DeFontes, BITS President Paul Smocer and Mandiant CEO Kevin Mandia. 

The hearing comes as the Intelligence Committee is preparing to re-introduce its cybersecurity information-sharing bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Industry insiders say the bill could be re-introduced as soon as next week. 

"This hearing will highlight the urgent need for Congress to pass cyber threat information sharing legislation to protect our national security, our economy and our way of life," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

Satellite TV hearing: The House Communications and Technology subcommittee will hold a hearing next Wednesday to examine reauthorizing a satellite television law.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Bill would bar bosses from asking for Facebook passwords: A bipartisan trio of lawmakers has reintroduced legislation that would prohibit employers from asking for their workers' passwords to Facebook or other online accounts.

Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) offered the Social Networking Online Protection Act on Wednesday. The legislation, which they had previously introduced in the last Congress, would make it illegal for employers to demand passwords or other information to access the online accounts of their employees or people applying for jobs. The restriction would also apply to schools and universities demanding passwords from students or applicants. 

Tech associations raise concerns with EU's proposed cybersecurity rules: Trade associations that represent tech giants such as Google, Amazon, IBM and Cisco argue that a proposed cybersecurity directive released by the European Union on Thursday is written too broadly and could slap burdensome new regulations on the tech industry. 

The EU's proposed cyber rules would require "enablers of information society services" — such as search engines, social networks and cloud storage services — to report major intrusions on their "core services" to government authorities. As hacker attacks have become more prevalent, the EU says key Internet companies should be required to report significant security incidents, just as telecom companies and data controllers do under the existing cyber rules. 

FCC looks into rural call-completion problems: The Federal Communications Commission proposed rules on Thursday that would require phone companies to collect information about failing to complete long-distance rural calls. 

Rural associations and lawmakers have urged the FCC to investigate poor completion rates of rural long-distance phone calls. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) led a group of 36 senators who urged the FCC to look into the problem in a letter in December.

Microsoft blasts Google over email privacy: Microsoft launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign on Thursday against Google over its practice of targeting ads to users based on the contents of their personal emails.

The offensive, which will include TV and newspaper ads, is part of Microsoft's "Scroogled" campaign that seeks to attract customers away from Google.


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Correction: This article previously misidentified the title of Paul Smocer. He is the president of BITS, the technology division of the Financial Services Roundtable.