OVERNIGHT TECH: Judiciary hearing on; Intel vote off

THE LEDE: The Senate Judiciary Committee will move ahead with its Wednesday morning hearing on the government's controversial surveillance programs, despite a government shutdown that has canceled many other Capitol Hill events.

But the Intelligence Committee has postponed its planned Thursday markup of Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) bill to restore trust in the National Security Agency. The measure would largely preserve the NSA's power, while other lawmakers, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), plan to more aggressively rein in the agency.

The Judiciary hearing will be the latest opportunity to hear details about Leahy's plans for legislation and where other committee lawmakers fall on the issue. Feinstein also serves on the Judiciary panel.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander are scheduled to testify.

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A second panel will feature Laura Donohue, a law professor at Georgetown; Ed Felten, a computer science professor at Princeton (and former Federal Trade Commission chief technologist); and Carrie Cordero, a law professor at Georgetown.

Websites down: Agencies that oversee the tech industry are responding to the government shutdown differently with regard to their websites. The websites of the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are inaccessible. In place of the websites are notices saying the sites are inaccessible due to the shutdown with links to any essential pages. The websites of the Office of the Director of National Security and the Department of Commerce’s National Technology and Information Administration are still up with notices that they won’t be updated because of the shutdown.

Privacy meeting canceled: The House bipartisan Privacy Working Group has canceled this week’s meeting due to the government shutdown, an aide said. The group, whose first meeting last week included Google, Wal-Mart and data broker firm Bluekai, is scheduled to have 10 weekly meetings with players in the online privacy realm in the coming months.

PCLOB hearing still on: The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will still hold its hearing Friday to examine the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. According to the board’s website, the group is using its carryover funding to stay open until Friday so the hearing can take place.

Patent troll report: The Progressive Policy released a report Tuesday calling on policymakers to tackle patent litigation abuse. The report examined the harm to innovation at the hands of “patent trolls,” or firms that obtain patents for the sole purpose of suing other companies for patent infringement. The group was hesitant to praise or condemn any patent reform bill currently on the table, though the report’s author, Phillip Goldberg, said the bills that have been introduced so far tackle specific issues about patent legislation “rather than deal with the entire problem.” 

Ultimately, “we’re hopeful that a bill will come forward that will look at this from a broader perspective,” he said. 

The Federal Trade Commission, which recently announced an investigation into patent trolls, will significantly help the debate by providing more information, he said. 

“When that study is done, and when they issue that report, it’s going to provide a vivid picture for Members of Congress and for the policy community to figure out how to deal with this.”


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Privacy advocates ask the House bipartisan Privacy Working Group to make their discussions with tech companies public.

National security agencies say the country's security is at risk as the agencies face furloughs from the government shutdown.

The Federal Communications Commission brought $14.4 million in charges against five phone companies related to alleged Lifeline fraud.


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