OVERNIGHT TECH: Feinstein outlines NSA changes

"It is my opinion that the surveillance activities conducted under [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], and other programs operated by the National Security Agency, are lawful, they are effective, and they are conducted under careful oversight," she said.

She warned that a terror attack similar to the massacre in a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, could happen in the United States if Congress goes too far in hamstringing the NSA. 

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Chambliss said he supports "modifications" to FISA but that the system is "not broken" 

"You and I share the goal of maintaining the same level of operational effectiveness and flexibility for the intelligence community while recognizing the privacy concerns about this collection," Chambliss said to Feinstein.

Other senators, including Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.), also indicated during the hearing that they support only minor changes to the NSA. 

But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) pushed for a more aggressive overhaul of the NSA's surveillance power. Wyden said he plans to offer his legislation, which is co-sponsored by Udall and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), as an amendment to Feinstein's bill next week, setting up a showdown between the privacy advocates and NSA supporters. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also plans to move legislation through his own committee to rein in the NSA and end its bulk collection of phone records. 

Privacy group testifies to EU: Government surveillance in the U.S. and the EU is “indefensible,” and the U.S. and EU should work together to ensure the rights of their citizens are protected, the Center for Democracy and Technology told the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs this week. Parliament members are “very concerned about the impact of surveillance in the U.S. on the privacy rights of people in Europe” and “looking for a commitment from the Administration and Congress to protect those rights,” Greg Nojeim, who testified for the group, said.

Rockefeller assuming the worst: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who recently expanded his investigation into the data broker industry to popular consumer-facing websites, seems to already assume there are harms to data collection, the Technology Policy Institute said in a blog post Thursday. 

“The Chairman’s letter infers the assumption that there is something inherently harmful about data collection and sharing, although this harm is not explicitly described,” and he, without evidence “posits that consumers may not be aware that their information is being collected or how it’s being used,” the post said.

Bill would lift FCC set-top box rule: Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Gene Green (D-Texas) introduced legislation on Thursday that would repeal the Federal Communications Commission's rule requiring cable operators to use CableCards, which allow third-parties like TiVo to authenticate signals. The bill won praise from the cable industry, which claims the FCC rule has cost them $1 billion since 2007. But TiVo blasted the proposal, saying, "Anyone who supports competition and innovation, should oppose this bill."

Federal Technology Commission?: The Federal Trade Commission has become the Federal Technology Commission in the later part of its century-long existence, two free-market groups —TechFreedom and the International Center for Law and Economics — said in a statement Thursday. While the FTC’s case-by-case approach works “mostly for the best,” it falls short in the realms of privacy and data security, they said. On those issues, “the FTC operates primarily by strong-arming companies into settling cases out of court. ... This kind of extra-legal approach cannot be the way we regulate technology in the next century.


ON TAP

The Innovation Alliance will hold a Friday event on role of the U.S. patent system, featuring current and former officials in the patent litigation realm.

FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen will speak at a TechFreedom event Friday which will discuss the history and future of the agency as it prepares to turn 100.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

House Republicans are considering using threats to kill net neutrality in the fight over the debt ceiling.

A federal judge ruled that Google's intercepting users' emails to better target ads is not exempted under wiretapping laws.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) questions the director of the NSA, hinting that the agency has collected cellphone location data.

The FCC wants wireless companies to tell customers how reliable service is during emergencies.

The FCC is considering a change to media ownership rules that would keep big companies from getting even bigger.

A government shutdown is unlikely to affect the NSA and its surveillance programs, according to an official familiar with the matter.


Correction: This post has been updated to correct Sen. Paul's party affiliation and the length of time the FTC has been in existence

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