OVERNIGHT TECH: Privacy concerns remain as CISPA heads to vote

"This is a major piece of legislation that proposes to fundamentally alter the landscape of privacy law ... [and] modifying privacy laws that have been on the books for decades," he said. "It shouldn't be rushed through with language that [lawmakers] haven't thought through." 

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Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, echoed that message. 

"Companies are granted immunity for sharing information directly with the NSA and that still needs to be fixed," Richardson said. 

A House aide said the sponsors of the amendment are in discussions to try fix the language in it, but have not reached a final resolution yet. Discussions are expected to continue throughout the evening. 

As the House finished voting on four other proposed changes to CISPA, the co-sponsors of the amendment — Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) — and their staffers left the House floor and went into the Speaker's lobby to talk privately. It's unclear what the subject of their discussions were. 

Ruppersberger declined to comment on the status of the amendment as he left the huddle.

"I'm not going to communicate about a bill that's actively in play right now. I think we're going to be fine — [there's] a couple issues that we have to look at and that's all I can say," he said. 

The House is expected to vote on the remaining amendments to CISPA and its final passage on Thursday.

Cellphone alerts in place: CTIA, the wireless lobbying group, announced on Wednesday that all of its member carriers have implemented alerts before charging customers for voice, data, messaging and international service overages. The companies agreed in October 2011 to implement the alerts by April 17, 2013, to stave off potential regulation.

"Our voluntary usage alert efforts are an additional example of how we work as an industry to ensure consumers have the information they need,” Steve Largent, CTIA's president, said.

Facebook applauds immigration bill: Facebook on Wednesday endorsed the Gang of Eight immigration proposal, which would increase the number of high-skilled workers allowed to enter the country. 

"The technology industry needs a modernized high skilled immigration system in order to keep growing, innovating and contributing to the economy and this bill moves us in the right direction," Joel Kaplan, Facebook vice president of U.S. policy, said in a statement. "We are eager to build on this progress by continuing our work with both the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, to ensure that the system is workable and American companies are getting what they need when it comes to accessing the skilled workforce wherever they may be located." 

Provo, Utah gets Google Fiber: Google announced on Wednesday that it will expand its ultra-fast Fiber Internet service to Provo, Utah.

The service, which offers speeds 100 times faster than average broadband, is currently available in Kansas City, Kans., and Kansas City, Mo., and the company has previously announced plans to expand to Austin, Texas. 

As part of the deal, Google will buy iProvo, an existing fiber network owned by the city. 


ON TAP

The House is expected to vote on amendments and final passage for CISPA on Thursday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up a bill on Thursday morning that would require police to obtain a warrant to search emails and other private online content.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Reid signals vote on sales tax bill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to move an online sales tax bill directly to the Senate floor, skipping the committee process. He filed a motion on Tuesday night to begin the process of putting the bill, the Marketplace Fairness Act, on the Senate calendar. The bill could come up for a vote as early as next week.

House panel approves Internet freedom bill: The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday to support Internet freedom. Republican committee leaders agreed to change the language of the bill after Democrats expressed concern that it could undermine existing polices, including the Federal Communications Commission's net-neutrality regulations.

Do Not Track hearing: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) announced that he will hold a hearing next Wednesday afternoon to push for a feature that would allow users to opt out of online tracking.

Sponsors say CISPA will not allow snooping: Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence Committee offered assurances on Wednesday that legislation allowing companies to share information on cyber threats with the government would not allow the government to collect data on private customers.

FTC considers privacy risks of everyday devices: The Federal Trade Commission is exploring the privacy risks posed by everyday devices, like cars and refrigerators, that are connected to the Internet. The commission on Wednesday asked for public comment on the topic and said it would hold a workshop on Nov. 21. 

FTC files first cellphone cramming case: The government is initiating its first legal action to stop unauthorized and unwanted cellphone charges. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday charged that Wise Media LLC, a Georgia-based company, signed up and billed consumers for text messages containing horoscopes, love tips and flirting advice that they had never requested, in a scam known as "cramming."


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