This Week in Tech: House panels to examine cybersecurity

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The committee will hear from Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute; Centerpoint Energy Chief Information Officer Gary Hayes; American Civil Liberties Union Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson; and Anish Bhimani, chairman of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

McCaul is expected to give a status update during the hearing on cybersecurity legislation he is currently crafting, which aims to improve coordination between private companies and the government to better protect key infrastructure from cyberattacks. The House Homeland Security Chairman has said his bill will complement the cyber information sharing bill, known as CISPA, put forward by the House Intelligence Committee.

While the House is moving forward on separate bills, the Senate is looking to repeat its push from last year on a comprehensive cybersecurity bill.

"Senator Carper’s goal is to pass meaningful cybersecurity legislation that best complements the president’s executive order and modernizes our outdated cyber laws," a Senate Homeland Security spokesman said in a statement, referring to Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

"While each component of the effort to reform cybersecurity is critically important, he believes that they are stronger as a whole and his preference is to work with his colleagues and stakeholders to pass a comprehensive measure – a long-term solution that addresses the gaps in the president’s executive order and improves our critical infrastructure," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee's crime and terrorism subpanel is taking a look at another aspect of the cyber issue during its hearing titled "Investigating and Prosecuting 21st Century Cyber Threats."

Lawmakers have recently expressed an interest in learning more about the resources the Justice Department has in prosecuting hackers that infiltrate the computer systems of American companies. The subcommittee has not released its witness list yet.

Earlier in the week, current and former administration officials will participate in a web briefing on Monday about the cybersecurity executive order issued by President Obama last month. The briefing is hosted by the law firm Venable.

The officials will outline why the new cybersecurity order is important to the energy, telecommunications, defense, financial services and transportation industries. Speakers will include Ari Schwartz, senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Commerce; Adam Sedgewick, senior Internet policy advisor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and James Barnett, a partner at Venable and former chief of public safety and homeland security for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

On Tuesday morning, the Senate Intelligence Committee is holding its annual public hearing on worldwide threats. The country's top intelligence officials will be on hand to testify, including CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Also in the upper chamber, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday afternoon to examine the policies of the FCC. All five commissioners are scheduled to testify.

Topics could include media ownership regulations, the planned auction of TV airwaves to cellular carriers and 911 reliability regulations. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will likely ask questions about giving the FCC authority over cellphone unlocking, which allows the owner to switch carriers.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet will hold a hearing on Thursday to investigate abusive patent litigation and its impact on jobs and innovation.

Representatives from Cisco, JCPenney, Adobe, Johnson & Johnson, the SAS Institute and the Global IP Law Group are scheduled to testify.

Also on Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing examining the construction of the nationwide broadband network for first responders.

Congress set aside radio frequencies and funding for the network, called FirstNet, as part of tax cut extension legislation last year. The network, which will allow first responders from different agencies to communicate with each other, was one of the last outstanding recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.


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