OVERNIGHT TECH: Walden worries FCC could botch spectrum auctions

Walden also agreed with the broadcasting group that the FCC should not exclude any wireless carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, from the auctions, arguing that restricting bidders would "likely suppress the final bid amount, leaving crucial revenue on the table."

Consumer advocacy groups have urged the FCC to prevent Verizon and AT&T from buying up all of the TV spectrum at auction, arguing it would further consolidate market power in the top two carriers and stifle competition in the industry. 

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Walden also urged the FCC to auction as much spectrum as possible, setting aside only necessary guard bands for unlicensed use. Unlicensed spectrum can be used by any company for free, and powers technologies such as garage door openers, remote controls and, most importantly, WiFi routers. Consumer groups hope that setting aside TV frequencies for unlicensed use could pave the way for super-powerful public WiFi networks.

"This is not the place for the Commission to try to push its unlicensed agenda," Walden said. "Plenty of other spectrum is already available for unlicensed use and other provisions of the spectrum law identify even more without cannibalizing the spectrum from the incentive auction."

More on Obama's cyber meeting with CEOs: A group of 13 CEOs from top American companies sat down with President Obama and senior White House officials in the Situation Room Wednesday afternoon to discuss the cyber threats facing the country's electric grid, water systems and other critical infrastructure. In addition to the meeting attendees Hillicon reported earlier, other participants included JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, Xerox Corp. CEO Ursula Burns and Nicholas Akins, CEO of American Electric Power Co. 

The president and CEOs talked about how the government and private sector can work together to boost cybersecurity, as well as the need for Congress to pass legislation to help bolster the country's defenses against cyber threats, according to the White House. 

Tech execs to meet with White House officials: Top leadership officials and executives from the member companies of TechNet and the Information Technology Industry Council are meeting with White House and administration officials on Thursday to discuss policy issues that are key to the tech industry, including tax and immigration reform. 

Some of the tech executives participating in the meeting include Cisco CEO John Chambers, Oracle COO Safra Catz and venture capitalist John Doerr. 

On Wednesday, the group of tech officials came to Capitol Hill to meet with senior members from both parties, as well as the Congressional High-Tech Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition. Both trade groups are holding their board of directors meetings this week.

ITI and TechNet's member companies include Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Intel. 

More scrutiny for broadband stimulus: House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans on Wednesday called for more scrutiny of the broadband programs included in the 2009 economic stimulus law.

The lawmakers, who held a hearing last month on waste in the programs, asked the Government Accountability Office to examine all grants and loans approved through the Broadband Initiatives Program, which is overseen by the Rural Utilities Service. The Republicans also sent a letter to the service, asking for more information on its review of $66.4 million in grants and loans to Lake County, Minn.

CISPA petition hits mark for White House response: An online petition opposing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) now has more than 100,000 signatures, the threshold to require a White House response.

The White House issued a veto threat last year on CISPA, citing concerns about privacy and the lack of critical infrastructure protections.

ACLU rips SimCity's Internet requirement: Electronic Arts has taken a lot of flak for requiring that players of the new SimCity computer game stay connected to the Internet at all times.

Widespread server problems prevented many people from playing the game soon after its launch. EA says the Internet requirement is essential for the popular city management simulation, even in single player mode, but some critics claim the requirement is aimed at preventing people from playing pirated versions of the game.

In a blog post, the American Civil Liberties Union offered a new criticism: that the requirement leaves people without a broadband connection further behind.

Gabe Rottman, an ACLU legislative counsel, said he hopes the controversy will "spur a larger conversation about how to further increase broadband deployment and adoption to prevent essential services and information technology from being out of reach for the most vulnerable among us." 


ON TAP

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold an oversight hearing on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. of FirstNet, the planned nationwide broadband network for first-responders.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet will hold a hearing on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. to investigate abusive patent litigation and its impact on jobs and innovation. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

House lawmakers skeptical of relaxing computer crime law: Advocacy groups are urging Congress to narrow a computer hacking law to ensure that people don't face years in prison for violating a company's terms of service.

But House Judiciary Committee lawmakers expressed little enthusiasm for relaxing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) at a hearing on Wednesday. Instead, several lawmakers called for toughening the law to combat the growing threat of hackers.

Franken presses Euclid for information on tracking technology: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Wednesday asked Euclid Analytics for more information about its "troubling" consumer tracking technology that monitors people's smartphone signals without their knowledge.

Franken, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Privacy subpanel, said he is concerned that the company's tracking technology is being used to analyze people's activity in stores without their permission. He noted that consumers must visit the company's website in order to opt out of this tracking.

Financial, energy sectors call for information-sharing bill: Two representatives from the financial and energy sectors on Wednesday called on Congress to pass legislation that would increase the flow of data shared between the government and industry about cyber threats.

"At the end of the day, we need to know what's going on and what's affecting us," said Anish Bhimani, chief information risk officer of JPMorgan Chase, who testified on behalf of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center at a House hearing.

Thanks to new law, Netflix adds Facebook sharing features: Netflix announced new features on Wednesday to let its users share which movies and TV shows they are watching with their Facebook friends. The new features are possible because of a law enacted earlier this year that amended the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA).

Under fire, video game lobby hires former Hill aides: The Entertainment Software Association, the lobbying group for the video game industry, announced Wednesday that it has hired Ali Amirhooshmand and Danielle Rodman, longtime veterans of Capitol Hill.


Please send tips and comments to Brendan Sasso, bsasso@thehill.com, and Jennifer Martinez, jmartinez@thehill.com.

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