OVERNIGHT TECH: Cyber chief asks for industry's help

The order requires the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology to work with industry to craft a set of best cybersecurity practices and standards for a critical infrastructure operators to follow as part of a voluntary program. The aim of the order is to help critical infrastructure operators boost the security of their computer systems and networks so they can thwart cyberattacks.

Daniel stressed that a strong public-private partnership is key to the successful execution of the executive order.

"It won't work unless we get very heavy participation and really enthusiastic participation from industry," he said. 

During the panel, Daniel and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argued that cybersecurity helps protect people's private information online from hackers. 

Chertoff brought up the recent hacker attack against The New York Times after it wrote a set of stories that were critical of the Chinese government. He argued that strong cyber defenses are key to preventing such attacks, and help preserve media organizations' First Amendment rights. 

"When you think about it that way, there's a lot more common ground between privacy advocates and cybersecurity advocates," Chertoff added.

Daniel echoed a similar message.

"Privacy and security are really two sides of the same coin. Really, you can't have privacy these days without good cybersecurity," Daniel said. 

Cablevision sues Viacom over channel bundling: Cablevision filed an antitrust lawsuit on Tuesday against Viacom, accusing the media giant of abusing its market power to force cable providers to carry little-watched channels.

In the lawsuit, Cablevision claimed that it is illegal for Viacom to force cable providers to pay for unpopular channels like Palladia, MTV Hits and VH1 Classic in order to buy access to hit networks, such as Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

"The manner in which Viacom sells its programming is illegal, anti-consumer, and wrong," Cablevision said in a statement. "Viacom effectively forces Cablevision's customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want."

Viacom accused Cablevision of trying to use the courts to renegotiate their contract.

“At the request of distributors, Viacom and other programmers have long offered discounts to those who agree to provide additional network distribution. Many distributors take advantage of these win-win and pro-consumer arrangements," Viacom said.

Consumers are often frustrated by having to pay expensive cable bills for the handful of channels they want. Courts have rejected antitrust challenges to cable bundling before, but Tuesday's suit is unique because it was brought by a TV distributor. 

"It's hard to predict exactly how an antitrust suit like this will turn out, but hopefully it will at least shed light on industry practices that harm consumers," John Bergmayer, an attorney for consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said.

Report claims sequester could cost $200 billion in innovation: Sequestration, which is scheduled to take effect on March 1, could shrink the U.S. economy by $203 billion per year, according to a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The report claims that by reducing spending on federal research and development, the planned cuts will lead to fewer new products and services.

"The budget deficit is a significant problem because it is a 'tax' on future generations. But across-the-board cuts that slash investments in research also impose a tax on future generations by ensuring that they will suffer from a less prosperous economy," Robert Atkinson, ITIF's president, said in a statement. "We need to take a more comprehensive approach to the budget that focuses on increasing investment, cutting spending, especially entitlements, and raising taxes, especially on individuals." 


Broadband stimulus hearing: The House Communications and Technology subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning to investigate whether the broadband stimulus is working.

The 2009 stimulus bill included more than $7 billion to fund the expansion of broadband Internet networks. The project is overseen by the Commerce and Agriculture departments.

In a note, the subcommittee said it will investigate “whether taxpayers are getting good return on their investment, examine recent allegations of waste, and discuss measures that might be taken to avoid certain pitfalls in the future.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the subcommittee's ranking member, will argue that the answer to whether the program is working is a "resounding yes."

"The investments made in broadband infrastructure are having a profound impact in local communities around the country," she will say, according to a copy of her prepared remarks.

Cyber conference: Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales are headline keynotes at the RSA cybersecurity conference on Wednesday afternoon. Cerf is expected to discuss the importance of preserving anonymity and the use of pseudonyms on certain Web services. Wales, on the other hand, is slated to discuss democracy on the Internet and the benefits of Internet freedom.


Supreme Court blocks challenge to surveillance law: The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a lawsuit challenging the federal government's monitoring of international phone calls and emails.

In a 5-4 decision that split along ideological lines, the court ruled that activists, journalists and lawyers represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) could not prove that they were harmed by the wiretapping program.

"Simply put, respondents can only speculate as to how the attorney general and the director of national intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority, agreeing with the Obama administration's position that the challengers lacked the legal standing to sue.

Rochelle Bobroff, an attorney for the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal advocacy group, said that the decision results in a catch-22 for anyone trying to challenge the program.

"The government wouldn't tell anybody whether they were under surveillance so no one could prove whether they were under surveillance," she said in an interview. "It's very, very unlikely that this will ever be challenged, and that didn't seem to bother the majority at all."

FCC delays media ownership vote: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski said on Tuesday that he will postpone a vote to revise media ownership regulations so that a nonprofit group can study the potential impact on women and racial minorities.

Genachowski said it will take the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council "several weeks" to complete the study on minority ownership, after which the commission will ask for public input on the findings.

"In this heavily-litigated area where a strong record is particularly important, I believe this is a sensible approach to moving forward and resolving the issues raised in this proceeding," Genachowski said in a statement.

Web anonymity battle starts anew: One of the Internet’s founding fathers is set this week to revive a heated cybersecurity debate over whether to preserve anonymity and the use of pseudonyms in online chat forums and social networks like Twitter.

Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist, is expected to make the case for keeping people’s identity anonymous — particularly on certain Web services — when he delivers the keynote address at the RSA cybersecurity conference here on Wednesday.

Tension over the issue has been building for years between free speech advocates and those who say tougher steps are needed to boost cybersecurity on the Internet.

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