OVERNIGHT TECH: House to consider email privacy bill

In his statement, Goodlatte said he will also push for reforms "to discourage frivolous patent litigation and keep U.S. patent laws up to date."

"The strength of our economy relies on our ability to protect new inventions and build on innovation in the 21st century," Goodlatte said.

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He also mentioned cybersecurity, saying he will "make it a priority to enhance our nation’s vulnerable systems to protect our networks and computers and ensure our national security and economic well-being."

Goodlatte did not mention online sales tax legislation, over which his committee has jurisdiction. Dozens of lawmakers from both parties are pushing legislation to empower states to tax online purchases.

Rockefeller's agenda: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) also announced his priorities as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

Rockefeller said he wants to strengthen online privacy protections and launch an investigation into data brokers— companies that buy and sell personal information. He said he will continue to crack down on consumer fraud, including telephone billing scams. 

He also said he plans to study the impact of violent and indecent media on children and wants to promote competition and consumer choice for video services. 

Rockefeller said he will continue his panel's oversight over the construction of FirstNet, the planned nationwide broadband network for first-responders. He also listed expanding wired and wireless broadband access as a top priority.

FCC to propose rules to prevent 911 outages: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced on Wednesday that the commission will vote on whether to consider new regulations designed to prevent 911 outages at its next meeting on March 20.

The rules will be based on the recommendations of a report from January that examined outages that resulted from last year's derecho storm.

The FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, which conducted the report, recommended that the agency consider enacting backup power requirements and mandating network monitoring procedures.

The bureau said phone companies should be required to conduct periodic audits of 911 circuits and should be required to notify 911 call centers about potential service problems.

FCC offers suggestions on next-generation 911: The FCC issued a report on Wednesday urging Congress to take certain steps to encourage the deployment of next-generation 911 technology, which would allow callers to send texts, videos and pictures.

The FCC said Congress should create incentives for states to become early adopters of NG911, promote the development of location technologies that support all NG911 applications and eliminate certain state regulations.

“By providing our nation’s call centers with the ability to receive emergency-related text messages, photos and video, Next Generation 9-1-1 will improve the quality and speed of emergency response and save lives," said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the co-author of the Next Generation 911 Advancement Act, which authorized funding for 911 services and required the FCC to conduct the study. 

"I will carefully consider the recommendations of the FCC’s report as I continue my work with the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus to accelerate the deployment of next-generation public safety communications,” Eshoo said.


ON TAP

Thursday is an action-packed day for government panels at the RSA conference in San Francisco. White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel will take the stage in the morning to discuss the administration's cybersecurity agenda for the year and how it plans to handle cyberattacks and espionage campaigns.  Following Daniel's speech, FBI Director Robert Mueller will outline the cyber threats facing the U.S. and describe why strong partnerships with the private sector are crucial to helping the bureau combat these threats.

Later, former White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will discuss the growing sophistication of cyberattacks over the last decade and the importance of public-private partnerships when it comes to securing cyberspace.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Bill would force 'patent trolls' to pay legal costs: A bipartisan duo of House lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday that aims to combat "patent trolls " — firms that accumulate patents for the purpose of suing other companies rather than creating new products.

The SHIELD Act from Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) would force plaintiffs to pay for the defendant's attorney fees and other legal costs if their patent lawsuit fails in court. Plaintiffs would be exempt if they invented the patent themselves or could show that they had made a substantial investment in trying to bring the patent to market. 

Fight over cyber information-sharing bill revived at RSA: Congress will soon make an historic decision over whether a military or civilian agency should head up intelligence-sharing efforts about cyber threats, a digital rights advocate argued on Tuesday. 

"In democratic society, do you want the military to have this center of gravity kind of control over what could potentially be very, very large flows of information about private to private communications?" asked Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, during a panel at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco. "You can talk about creating a lot of checks and balances, [but] one of the fundamental checks and balances is you put that authority on the civilian side."

Hollywood to launch education campaign after Newtown criticism: The film and television industries will soon roll out a nationwide multimedia campaign designed to educate parents about tools that can help them manage the entertainment content their children consume, a group of entertainment trade associations said Wednesday. 

Republicans blast 'wasteful' Internet stimulus program: House Republicans claimed at a hearing on Wednesday that a federal program aimed at expanding broadband Internet access is rife with wasteful spending.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications and Technology subcommittee, accused the Obama administration of wasting millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary projects and overspending through the $7 billion program, which was part of the economic stimulus bill approved by Congress in 2009.

But the subcommittee's Democrats argued that while there will always be problems with large government programs, the broadband stimulus has been worthwhile.

Cybersecurity chief warns further regulations may be required: President Obama’s executive order on national cybersecurity could result in new regulations for companies that operate key infrastructure, according to Michael Daniel, the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator.

Daniel said new regulations could be needed to create a “backstop” to address security gaps in the computer systems and networks of the nation’s water systems, electric grid and other critical infrastructure. Some observers have said the administration’s order, issued earlier this month, lacks teeth because the bulk of its measures are voluntary. 


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