OVERNIGHT TECH: Rules panel blocks privacy amendments to CISPA

Among the amendments that will be put to a vote is one from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) that would prevent companies from selling people's personal information for a marketing purpose. Another proposed change from Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) would bar the federal government from using firearms sales records, tax returns and library records that it receives from private companies under the bill.

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The House begins consideration of the bill a day after the White House issued a veto threat against it, citing privacy concerns. The administration issued a veto threat against CISPA last year before the Rules Committee weighed amendments to the bill. 

"We have long said that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation, but they must include proper privacy and civil liberties protections, reinforce the appropriate roles of civilian and intelligence agencies, and include targeted liability protections," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

Both Rogers and Ruppersberger vowed to continue to rally support for the bill's passage in the House, but they expressed disappointment with the White House's move.

FTC chief says Google decision should have been binding: Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez on Tuesday criticized her agency's decision to allow Google to make voluntary commitments to resolve a sweeping antitrust investigation earlier this year.

"What I can tell you is that that matter should not be considered a precedent," Ramirez said during a Senate Oversight hearing. "When there is a majority of commissioners who find that there has been a violation, any remedy should be embodied in a formal consent order. That's what happened before the Google matter and that's what's going to continue to happen following the Google matter."

She said the FTC will take "appropriate action" if Google violates any of its voluntary commitments. 

Ramirez said she agreed with the commission's decision not to sue Google over search bias. Ramirez was a commissioner and Jon Leibowitz was chairman of the agency when it issued its ruling on Google's search practices. 

Also at Tuesday's hearing, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) criticized the Justice Department's recommendation to limit the ability of Verizon and AT&T to buy spectrum rights at auction.

"I am concerned about any approach that might involve the government meddling in the competitive bidding process and in effect picking winners and losers," Lee said, adding that the Justice Department's advice would effectively subsidize smaller carriers.

The Justice Department's Antitrust Division offered the advice to the Federal Communications Commission, which is overseeing the auctions, in a memo last week.

William Baer, the head of the Antitrust Division, noted that access to spectrum can determine competition in the industry, and said his office was asking the FCC to consider whether big carriers are warehousing spectrum.

"Take a look at whether or not the playing field is already tilted in favor of the big guys," Baer said. 


ON TAP

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up legislation on Tuesday morning that would make it official U.S. policy to support the current multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. 

Democrats objected to a previous version of the bill over concerns that it could overturn net-neutrality rules and other Internet policies. To address the Democrats' concerns, Republicans struck the phrase making it formal U.S. policy to "promote a global Internet free from government control." The bill now states only that it U.S. policy "to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet.”


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

House approves (those other) cyber bills: The House on Tuesday afternoon passed three bills aimed at updating the federal government's cybersecurity controls and boosting research and education in information technology fields.

None of the three bills were controversial, and all were easily approved under a suspension of House rules, which requires a two-thirds majority vote for passage.

Rupperberger predicts veto threat: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) expects the White House will issue a veto threat on Tuesday against a cybersecurity bill that he is co-sponsoring with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).

Ruppersberger said the move would be "upsetting" but that the two lawmakers will move forward and continue rallying support for their bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The House is expected to vote on the cybersecurity bill this week.

Appropriations chief: Pentagon should do more to stop China’s cyberattacks: House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) says the Pentagon should be more aggressive to stem the number of Chinese cyberattacks against U.S. interests.

Rogers told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey that he thought the military should be doing more to stem the number of cyberattacks coming from China.

National security briefing on cybersecurity: Top national security officials were set to participate in a briefing for House members on cybersecurity Tuesday afternoon.

IRS denies searching emails without warrant: The head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) denied on Tuesday that his agency searches people's emails without a warrant. 

American Airlines halts flights: All American Airlines flights are being held on the ground because of a system-wide computer error, the company said Tuesday. 

The company said the earliest it expected the computer problems to be resolved was late Tuesday afternoon. 

McCaskill presses FAA on electronic devices: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) dismissed the idea that allowing airline passengers to use electronic devices during take-offs and landings could distract them from hearing safety announcements on Tuesday.

After being pressured by McCaskill and other lawmakers, the Federal Aviation Administration began studying easing its restrictions on electronic devices, which are currently banned completely when airplanes are below 10,000 feet.


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