OVERNIGHT TECH: House to restart cybersecurity debate

Schiff said he would like to include additional privacy protections in the bill, as well as a provision that would address security gaps in the computer systems of critical infrastructure. He also believes the Department of Homeland Security should have a more central role in the bill. 

"I do think CISPA needs to be strengthened by protecting personally identifiable information and by including critical infrastructure — it's a very necessary piece," Schiff said. 

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"I don't think any of those issues are insurmountable, and it's my hope that the House, the president and the Senate can all put our heads together and come up with a reasonable compromise because the problem has just gotten worse, as we knew it would," he said. 

CISPA aims to improve information-sharing about cyber threats between government and industry so companies can thwart cyberattacks in real time. Privacy advocates and civil-liberties groups argue that the bill will increase the pool of electronic communications that flow to the intelligence community and National Security Agency. 

The White House issued a veto threat the day before the House voted on CISPA last year. One of its concerns was that it would not have set cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure — an issue that Schiff says still needs to be addressed. 

"The critical infrastructure piece has got to get done and we might as well get it all done. We don't want to be in a situation where we move only part of the solution, and then we have an attack ... and we have to answer why we stood by when Rome is burning," Schiff said. "I think it needs to be part of the solution."

"I certainly plan to raise and discuss these issues with the witnesses and with my colleagues and hope that we can make progress," he added.

Schiff voted for CISPA in committee last year, but he voted against it when it was brought to the House floor, citing privacy concerns.

Lofgren 'getting close' on introducing Aaron's Law: Don't expect the bill to be introduced this week, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) says, but she's "getting close" to releasing the final version of Aaron's Law. Lofgren has been crowdsourcing suggested changes to the bill on social news website Reddit for the last few weeks. 

The bill would overhaul the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was used to press federal hacking charges against Internet activist Aaron Swartz.

"We are actually still working on the comments. We got an avalanche of comments [on Reddit]," Lofgren said. The bill may be introduced "probably not this week, but we're getting close," she said.

Pryor to take over tech subcommittee: The Senate Commerce Committee announced on Wednesday that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) will chair the panel's subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. He will succeed John Kerry, who was recently confirmed as secretary of State. 

Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has taken the lead on many communications issues in recent years, but he is set to retire at the end of next year. 

Airbnb joins Internet Association: Travel reservation website Airbnb is the latest company to join the Internet Association, a lobbying group for Web companies. Airbnb connects travelers with people looking to temporarily rent out a room.

“Airbnb is the poster child for how great ideas can thrive thanks to the Internet and we are delighted to welcome Airbnb to The Internet Association,” said Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association. “We welcome Airbnb’s engagement on important issues of Internet freedom, economic growth and user empowerment."

House starts to review satellite law: The House Communications and Technology subcommittee held its first hearing on Wednesday to consider whether to re-authorize a law regulating the ability of satellite providers to carry broadcast TV signals.

The law, which is set to expire at the end of 2014, is highly technical, but industry groups and consumer advocates are watching carefully to see whether lawmakers will wrap other video regulation issues into the debate. Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said the hearing was intended to "set the table" for future discussions.

"This is perhaps the most arcane and complicated area of law we confront in this subcommittee," Walden said, according to a copy of his opening statement. "Rest assured, we will have several more hearings, providing additional opportunity to consider not only the satellite issues directly before us, but also affording time to those who would ask us to take this opportunity to revisit other areas of communications law."

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the panel's ranking member, said she favors clean re-authorization of the law, but she said she wants to look at retransmission disputes that result in blackouts for viewers.


ON TAP 

CompTIA will hold a trio of policy panels on Thursday that will cover cybersecurity, the FirstNet nationwide network and the Startup Act 2.0.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Administration warns cybersecurity order not enough, urges Congress to act: Administration officials said on Wednesday that despite a new cybersecurity executive order, Congress must still enact legislation to better protect the nation's critical computer systems from hackers.

"This executive order is only a downpayment on what we need to address this threat," National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander said during an event at the Commerce Department to discuss the administration's action. "This executive order can only move us so far and is not a substitute for legislation

Bill aims to attract foreign entrepreneurs: A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced an updated bill on Wednesday that would create a new visa aimed at recruiting foreign entrepreneurs to the United States to launch their businesses.

The bill, called the Startup Act 3.0, would allow foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the United States for a three-year period and would require them to employ at least five full-time workers who are not family members. The entrepreneurial visa would be available to up to 75,000 immigrants with an H-1B or F-1 visa who have registered a business that employs at least two full-time workers and invests or raising funding of at least $100,000.

Lawmakers to renew push for online sales tax: A bipartisan group of senators will renew their push for online sales tax legislation on Thursday.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) plans to re-introduce the Marketplace Fairness Act, along with Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), according to Christina Mulka, a spokeswoman for Durbin.

Reps. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) will introduce identical companion legislation in the House, Mulka said.

Rogers says cybersecurity order paves the way for CISPA: Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) on Wednesday reintroduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a controversial bill that aims to help companies better protect their computer systems from hackers.

Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, argued that his bill is more likely to pass in the wake of President Obama's decision to sign a cybersecurity executive order on Tuesday.

"We think that now we are in a better place to work with the White House to try to find some common ground as this moves out of the House," he said during a press conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The executive order, we think, will take a little pressure off the Senate's insistence on infrastructure rules, regulations and standards." 

Senate Judiciary hearing highlights call for high-skilled immigration reform: Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL and CEO of investment firm Revolution, urged lawmakers to pass high-skilled immigration reform as part of a comprehensive immigration package during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. 

Case said passing a comprehensive bill is necessary because "it can also address the family and human issues that are at stake in this emotional debate." The tech entrepreneur's stance highlights the tech industry's realization that high-skilled immigration reform stands a better chance of getting through Congress this year if it is wrapped into a comprehensive measure. 


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