OVERNIGHT TECH: Privacy groups prepare to hit back on cybersecurity bill

Advocacy groups Fight for the Future and Demand Progress submitted a petition with 300,000 signatures from its followers to the House Intelligence Committee, which held a hearing on CISPA and the state of cyber threat information-sharing on Thursday. 

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During the hearing, Rogers said there is "a lot of misunderstanding" about CISPA and the type of information it would allow companies to share with the government if their computer systems are attacked by hackers. The bill would allow companies to share malicious source code and other technical information about potential attacks on their systems, and is not focused on emails or other types of content with personal information included in it, he argued.

HUD joins digital literacy program: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced on Thursday that his department will join Connect2Compete, a digital literacy program. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski joined Donovan to trumpet the announcement.

"This is a major step forward to increase C2C’s visibility and reach even more Americans with broadband, digital literacy training, and low-cost computers. HUD staff and volunteers will help us raise awareness with its partners across the country on what C2C has to offer," Genachowski said.

The FCC also announced that Best Buy's Geek Squad will launch free digital literacy training at the Connect2Compete's partner facilities, including HUD neighborhood centers.

Best Buy lobbying for online sales tax: Scott Durchslag, the e-commerce president of Best Buy, was in Washington on Thursday for the Connect2Compete announcement, but he also took the opportunity to meet with lawmakers about online sales tax legislation.

"It's ridiculous to me that the government would pick winners and losers," Durchslag said in a phone interview in between Capitol Hill meetings. "The Internet doesn't need affirmative action anymore."

He said enacting the Marketplace Fairness Act is the company's top priority in Washington. But Durchslag worried that the legislation could falter in Congress despite a bipartisan team of lawmakers behind it.

"I'm worried everyone assumes this is inevitable," he said. "We need to feel some sense of urgency."

AT&T blasts FCC for being too slow:
AT&T Vice President Bob Quinn ripped the FCC on Thursday for not meeting a one-year deadline to decide a U.S. Telecom petition to eliminate certain telecommunications regulations.

"One year was not enough time to determine whether we could finish making the move from the telegraph-era to the telephone-era. Apparently, this is tricky stuff," Quinn wrote sarcastically.

Free Press Research Director Derek Turner accused AT&T of bullying and hubris.

"The FCC is correct to take additional time to fully consider the petition brought by AT&T's mouthpiece, the U.S. Telecom Association. If granted in full, the changes AT&T and USTA seek could have severe impacts on consumers, businesses, competition and jobs," Turner said in a statement.

Publishers pan research access bill: The Association of American Publishers is calling the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act a "boondoggle." The bill, introduced on Thursday, would require researchers who receive federal funding to post their final publications online for free.

“This bill would waste so much taxpayers’ money at a time of budgetary crisis, squander federal employees’ time with busywork and require the creation and maintenance of otherwise-unneeded technology,” Allan Adler, the group's general counsel, said in a statement.

But Christopher Lewis, lobbyist for Public Knowledge, said the bill is "a step in the right direction in terms of transparency between government agencies and Americans."

"This bill will unlock taxpayer-funded research among federal agencies and empower the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators," he said.

Gutierrez calls on Vivek Wadhwa and Silicon Valley to help pass immigration reform: Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) penned an op-ed in TechCrunch on Thursday that urged Vivek Wadhwa, vice president of innovation and research at Singularity University, and Silicon Valley to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The post is Gutiérrez's response to Wadhwa's earlier op-ed that said the Illinois lawmaker and Congress should focus on freeing up more green cards and increasing the number of H-1B visas available to skilled workers first. But Gutiérrez argues that "the only way we will win reform is to fight for a top-to-bottom overhaul of our immigration system."

"Because our immigration system needs fixing top to bottom, fixing it all at once is the right way to approach things. After all, Silicon Valley engineers and entrepreneurs would not be very productive or competitive engines of our economy if they did not have food to eat, or people to care for their children or parents, or a clean office and clean clothes, or a made bed in their hotel room on a business trip," Gutiérrez writes. 


ON TAP:

Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, will discuss the challenges facing the film and television industry in a speech on Friday at the National Press Club.

One week before the Oscars, Dodd will discuss how innovations are changing his industry and the importance of films to the national economy.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

FAA vows to address privacy concerns with drone flights: Federal aviation regulators on Thursday said they will consider privacy issues as they work to clear the way for domestic drone flights.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a petition a year ago asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to include privacy protection guidance for the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

House Intelligence Committee leaders defend aim of cybersecurity bill: The authors of a controversial cybersecurity bill on Thursday attempted to dispel concerns that their legislation would violate people's privacy.

House Intelligence Committee leaders Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said their Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) would enable the government and industry to share information about incoming cyber threats in real time. Privacy advocates and civil liberties groups, on the other hand, have argued that CISPA lacks sufficient privacy protections and would increase the pool of people's electronic communications flowing to the intelligence community and the National Security Agency.

Lawmakers claim momentum in push for Internet sales tax: A bipartisan group of 35 House members and 18 senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would allow states to tax online purchases.

"This is gaining momentum, and this is the year to do it," Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the lead Senate sponsor, said during a Capitol Hill press conference.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), the bill's top author in the House, said he is confident the measure will become law this year.

Bil would require free access to federally funded research: Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) plans to introduce legislation on Thursday that would require researchers who receive federal funding to post their final publications online for free.

Matt Dinkel, a spokesman for Doyle, confirmed the congressman plans to re-introduce the Federal Research Public Access Act, a bill he has offered in previous years. The legislation would require all federal agencies that have an external research budget of above $100 million to require their grant recipients to post their articles online for free within 6 months of publication in any peer-reviewed journal.


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