This Week in Tech: House committee to debate future of FTC

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The commission is currently evenly split among party lines while it waits for the Senate confirmation of former Department of Justice attorney Terrell McSweeny, a Democrat, as a commissioner.

Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Commissioner Julie Brill are Democrats and Commissioners Maureen Ohlhausen and Joshua Wright are Republicans.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a Commerce Department agency, plans to release a draft framework of cybersecurity guidelines this week, according to agency spokeswoman Jennifer Huergo.

The president's February executive order directed NIST to complete the framework by Oct. 10, but the agency missed the deadline due to the government shutdown. The voluntary rules are intended to help operators of critical infrastructure, such as power plants and banks, better protect their systems from hackers.

Obama signed the executive order after Congress failed to pass cybersecurity legislation last year. Republican senators blocked the White House's preferred bill, claiming it would have burdened businesses with unnecessary regulations.

Without legislation, the administration has only limited incentives that it can offer companies to meet the cybersecurity standards.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on the "evolution of communications networks." The hearing will examine the role of regulation as the industry transitions from copper voice networks to broadband Internet networks.

On Wednesday, Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel dealing with intellectual property will outline the company’s stance on patent reform, a topic that’s gaining momentum in Congress.

Patent reform will also be the topic of a Friday event hosted by the Technology Policy Institute, which will include Intellectual Ventures founder Peter Detkin. Detkin’s company is often accused of being one of the largest patent trolls.