OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate to hold hearing on FCC, FTC picks

THE LEDE: The Senate is beginning to move on two of President Obama's nominees to regulatory commissions that oversee the technology industry. 

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday afternoon on the nominees to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission.

Michael O'Rielly, a staffer to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), would fill the second Republican spot on the FCC. Terrell McSweeny, a Justice Department official and former aide to Vice President Biden, would be the third Democratic FTC commissioner.

The hearing will be the first public opportunity to hear the nominees' views on the hot-button issues before the agencies.

The Commerce Committee approved Tom Wheeler's nomination for FCC chairman in July, but he has yet to receive a vote in the full Senate. The Senate often votes for nominees to commissions in bipartisan pairs, so the Senate will likely vote on Wheeler and O'Rielly together.


It is unclear whether McSweeny would move with the FCC picks, with another nominee or on her own. The FTC is currently deadlocked between two Democrats and two Republicans, so Senate Republicans may not be in a hurry to confirm her. 

Yahoo CEO on NSA: During an interview at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer applauded her company's efforts to resist the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

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Michael Arrington pressed Mayer on why Yahoo turned over user data after losing an appeal before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2007 (before Mayer joined the company).

"If you don't comply, it's treason," she said. 

Walden to unveil satellite draft next year: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications and Technology subcommittee, said on Wednesday that he plans to circulate draft legislation to re-authorize a satellite television law in the first quarter of next year. The current law, STELA, is set to expire at the end of 2014.

Retransmission disputes took center stage again at a hearing of Walden's panel on Wednesday. 

Cable companies are looking to capitalize on consumer anger over last month's blackout of CBS stations to push for changes to retransmission regulation as part of the reauthorization of STELA. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who floated a retransmission bill earlier this week, urged the panel "to have a substantive dialogue about potential solutions to a constantly evolving video marketplace."

"There is no longer any doubt that retrans reform is coming. Now it's just a matter of what that reform should be," the American Television Alliance said in a statement. 

But broadcasters are likely to battle any changes that would reduce their ability to get paid for their content. 

Lawmakers praise interoperability agreement: Democrats and Republicans are happy with AT&T's deal to make it easier for customers of other carriers to roam on its network.

Eshoo called the agreement a "win for all consumers," and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) said it is "important step for competition and innovation in the wireless marketplace." Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said the lack of interoperability on AT&T's network "has been a barrier to robust wireless competition that resulted in fewer choices in devices for wireless customers."

"This agreement will help encourage innovation and investment while ensuring that consumers, particularly in rural areas of Mississippi, experience the full benefits of mobile broadband,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said. 

The lawmakers all praised Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, who organized the industry negotiations over the issue. 


ON TAP

Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn will discuss the agency's Lifeline phone subsidy at the New America Foundation on Thursday morning. Republicans have attacked the program as a wasteful government handout, but Clyburn is a fierce defender of the program.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) are warning that illegal NSA email surveillance is still a secret.

The NSA routinely turned over raw intelligence data to Israel, according to a classified document. 

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) expressed concern about Facebook's privacy changes. 

A liberal campaign firm wants to be able to display political ads on mobile devices without including the usual disclosure statement.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is chiding the Securities and Exchange for failing to keep up with technology requirements that the agency has imposed on the firms it regulates.


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