OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate plans hearing on FCC pick

THE LEDE: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing next Tuesday afternoon to consider the nomination of Tom Wheeler to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

The telecom world is eager to learn Wheeler's positions on an array of issues before the commission.

Expect senators to ask Wheeler whether the FCC should cap the amount of spectrum that AT&T and Verizon can buy in the upcoming auction and whether he would consider reclassifying broadband to save the agency's net-neutrality rules. His writings from 2011 that the FCC should have approved the AT&T/ T-Mobile merger with aggressive new regulatory requirements for the combined company could draw scrutiny from senators of both parties.

Other controversial topics, such as the FCC's indecency rules and its Lifeline phone subsidy, are also likely to come up.

Senate Republicans may be reluctant to approve Wheeler until President Obama names a nominee for the open Republican seat on the commission. The Senate often approves nominees to bipartisan commissions in pairs. 

Tech HR execs in DC to press for immigration reform: Human resources executives from top tech companies are in Washington this week to press lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform, as well as explain the challenges they face when it comes to hiring workers with the requisite technical skills needed to fill open jobs. The fly-in trip is being hosted by the Information Technology Industry Council, which counts Google, Intel and Apple as members. The HR executives will also brief lawmakers on their companies' efforts to recruit American tech workers.

Wireless tax ban introduced: Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) re-introduced their Wireless Tax Fairness Act on Tuesday. The measure would institute a five-year ban on new state and local taxes on customers' monthly wireless bills.

CTIA heralded the introduction of the bill. CTIA President Steve Largent said in a statement that the measure "must be passed as quickly as possible to protect wireless consumers from any new and discriminating taxes and fees."


National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the state of cybersecurity at the Defense Department on Wednesday afternoon.

Over at NCTA's annual conference, FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai will speak at a lunch panel along with Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.


Pandora purchases FM radio station amid battle with songwriters: Pandora announced Tuesday that it purchased an FM radio station in South Dakota, a move intended to allow the online radio station to qualify for the same licensing terms as other Internet radio competitors.

Christopher Harrison, assistant general counsel at Pandora, made the announcement about Pandora’s purchase of KXMZ-FM in an op-ed published in The Hill.

Sen. Coburn blasts feds for 'stupidity' in IT spending: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Tuesday blasted the federal government’s spending on information technology as being filled with “waste, fraud, duplication and stupidity.”

The federal government plans to spend just under $82 billion on IT for the fiscal 2014, a slight increase from the $80.2 billion it allotted for fiscal 2013.

Report: US hacked al Qaeda's online magazine: An issue of the al Qaeda online magazine Inspire was disrupted by a hacking attack carried out by United States intelligence operatives last month, according to a report in The Washington Post.

The hacked version of the English-language magazine appeared online on May 14 with garbled language on the second page, the Post said. The rest of the online magazine had blank pages and the edition was quickly pulled from the Web.

Google asks to disclose details of NSA spying: Major Internet companies are urging the Obama administration to give them permission to disclose more details about national security requests for their users’ data.

Google sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller on Monday, arguing that the information would prove that the company is not turning over massive batches of its users’ sensitive personal data to the government.

Senators push to declassify secret FISA surveillance rulings: Eight senators introduced legislation on Tuesday that would require the attorney general to declassify significant opinions made by courts operating under the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

If the bipartisan bill was law, it would have required the government to reveal its collection of Verizon phone records and the PRISM Internet data mining program. 

Advocacy groups, companies urge Congress to rein in NSA spying: More than 80 civil-liberties group and companies urged Congress on Tuesday to investigate and restrict the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance programs.

The letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, as well as conservative groups such as FreedomWorks and TechFreedom. Internet companies signing the letter included reddit, Mozilla, BoingBoing and DuckDuckGo.

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