OVERNIGHT TECH: Lawmakers clash over limiting FCC power

Walden's bill would require the FCC to conduct cost-benefit analyses before adopting new rules, meet binding deadlines and provide the public an adequate opportunity to review proposals. The legislation would also bar the FCC from imposing conditions on transactions that aren't directly related to the harm of the deal. 

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The House passed Walden's bill last year in a 247-174 vote, but the Senate never took up the proposal. Republicans appeared to have made little headway in winning over Democrats at Thursday's hearing. 

"[Walden's legislation] hasn’t, nor will it, go anywhere," said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the subcommittee's ranking member. "Administrative Law experts tell us it would tie the Federal Communications Commission up in years of litigation. Simply put, the bill contains bad policy."

The witnesses at the hearing mostly sided with Walden, including former Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, who called for a broader re-write of the laws underlying the FCC's authority.

"Experience has taught me that decreasing onerous or unnecessary regulations increases investment, spurs innovation, accelerates competition, lowers prices, creates jobs and benefits consumers," McDowell said.

House to consider data breach legislation: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will hold a hearing next Thursday to consider whether federal data breach legislation is necessary.

Former Subcommittee Chairwoman Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) pushed legislation last Congress that would have required companies to notify consumers following a data breach, but Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) has so far chosen to focus more on manufacturing issues as chairman of the panel. 

Senate targets online gambling: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing next week to examine whether online gambling companies are exploiting consumers.

“Internet gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry that comes with some serious risks, including the potential for money laundering used for terrorist financing. This alone demands that we take a hard look at what a growing Internet gambling industry means as more states have recent laws permitting online wagering,” said Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

“We’ve also got to take a hard look at consumer protections, and how we’re going to fix any existing gaps that allow underage gambling or otherwise leave consumers vulnerable to fraud and abuse.”

A 2006 law curbed Internet gambling, but a 2011 Justice Department decision has permitted states to allow online gambling within their own borders. 

Goodlatte heads to the Valley for fundraiser: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is heading to the Valley for a TechNet-organized breakfast fundraiser in Menlo Park, Calif. The lead hosts of the fundraising event are Facebook, Oracle and Cisco.

New patent troll bill: Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) are the latest lawmakers to introduce legislation aimed at curbing patent trolls.

Their bill, the Patent Litigation and Innovation Act (H.R. 2639), toughens pleading requirements in an attempt to protect downstream users, including consumers, from frivolous patent suits.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Yahoo asks to reveal argument against surveillance: Yahoo has asked a secret court to unseal its argument in a 2008 case protesting government surveillance, the company confirmed on Thursday.

Those documents would prove that the company fought back against the National Security Agency's data-gathering program, Yahoo said.

Feds asked to skip hacker conference: The founder of the annual Defcon hacker conference has asked the federal government to skip the event this year in the wake of the revelations over a pair of controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs.

Jeff Moss, the Defcon founder who also goes by the alias "The Dark Tangent," said hackers "need some time apart" from the feds this year because "recent revelations" have made the hacker community uneasy about mixing it up with government officials at the Las Vegas conference. The "'time-out,'" as Moss calls it, would give the two groups a chance to reflect on the recent reports. 

Senate Commerce unveils cybersecurity bill: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee announced a draft bill on Thursday aimed at improving the nation's defenses against hackers.

The draft, which is backed by Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and ranking member John Thune (R-S.D.), is an attempt to forge a compromise on cybersecurity after repeated attempts to pass legislation through the Senate failed last term. Rockefeller expects to mark up the legislation later this month, according to a committee aide.

Report: Microsoft taught NSA how to crack encrypted emails: Microsoft helped American intelligence officials gain easier access to their users' electronic communications, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

Documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden show that Microsoft helped the National Security Agency work around the encrypted code on its new Outlook portal after the spy agency expressed concern that it wouldn't be able to intercept Web chats, according to The Guardian.


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