Overnight Tech: Setback for net neutrality advocates

LEDE: Net neutrality advocates lamented Senate Appropriations Committee passage of a spending bill that contains a rider to block the Federal Communications Commission from regulating commercial broadband rates with its net neutrality rules. 

While FCC Chairman Wheeler has continuously said he would refrain from using the authority to dictate how much companies like Comcast can charge customers for Internet service, advocates are concerned that the provision is overbroad. 

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"The language here is getting a little narrower than it was in the House version, and that's good; but it's still not narrow enough to clarify that this only applies to the monthly service charge that the user pays rather than stretching [to] eliminate FCC oversight of interconnection fees, zero rating, or even fraudulent charges," said Matt Wood, the policy director for Free Press.

The House version would also outright block the rules until a court battle is settled, something absent from the Senate bill. Senate Democrats on Thursday argued that the committee should give space to negotiators in the Commerce Committee who are working on a compromise, but an amendment to strip out the rider was voted down on party lines. 

The committee did not release an electronic version of the bill, but the rider reads: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to regulate, directly or indirectly, the prices or related terms... charged or imposed by providers of broadband Internet access service... for such service, regardless of whether such regulations takes the form of requirements for future conduct or enforcement regarding past conduct."

O'RIELLY SAYS NET NEUTRALITY BILL 'HEAVY LIFT': Democrats unsuccessfully urged Republicans to hold off on attaching net neutrality riders. Dems argued that the chairman and ranking member of the Commerce Committee are making progress on a compromise that could potentially replace the FCC's controversial order. Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly predicted, however, that a congressional compromise in the current climate would be a tough sell. 

"I'm not in a great position to answer per se, but I suspect that legislation in reading and talking to my friends, it seems like a heavy lift right now. Seems like those folks who feel they have done fairly well in the commission item don't really have any interest in negotiating any compromises. I suspect it is a heavy lift, but I'll leave it to them," he said in an interview for C-SPAN's "The Communicators."

COMCAST HAS MORE BROADBAND CUSTOMERS THAN CABLE: The Washington Post notes that, based on numbers released on an earnings call Thursday, Comcast now has more Internet than cable subscribers. It's a small difference: 22.5 million are Internet subscribers, and 22.3 million are cable subscribers.

O'RIELLY VOTES ON AT&T-DIRECTV, BUT WON'T SAY WHICH WAY: FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said in a statement Thursday that he voted on Chairman Tom Wheeler's order recommending the approval of AT&T merger with DirecTV with conditions. But he's not saying how he voted. "To be clear, this process shouldn't have taken this long, and we shouldn't have been so cavalier with the Commission's merger review "shot clock," but at least we have arrived at this final stage," he said.

CLINTON'S FUNDRAISING SCHEDULE IN CALIFORNIA: The cofounder of Qualcomm, Irwin Jacobs, and his wife are slated to host a fundraiser for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonProminent Putin critic: If Trump turns me over, I'm dead Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia Trump tweets old video of Clinton talking up 'a strong Russia' MORE's presidential campaign next month, according to an invitation posted on the Political Party Time website. The website posted a little more than a dozen Clinton fundraisers in the next month, including five in California. 

E-WARRANTY ACT MOVES FORWARD IN HOUSE: The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade unanimously advanced the E-Warranty Act during a markup. It allows manufacturers to offer an electronic version of their warranty, instead of just committing it to paper. A similar bill passed the Senate earlier this month.

ON TAP:

At noon, the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will host a talk on "Data Across Borders: Treaties, Law Enforcement, and Digital Privacy in the Aftermath of Snowden."

At 9 a.m., the House Science, Space and Technology Committee's Research and Technology Subcommittee holds a hearing on "Cybersecurity: What the Federal Government Can Learn from the Private Sector."

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

A Democratic lawmaker is asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make it harder for commercial and hobbyist drone pilots to interfere with emergency response operations.

Democrats were unsuccessful Thursday in stripping out a net neutrality rider in a Senate spending bill that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from regulating the rates that Internet service providers charge their customers. 

Concerns about the risk of hacking attacks on its vehicles is one of the factors driving a consortium of German automakers to make a billion-dollar bid for mapping software.

The government is electronically accepting security clearance forms for background checks again

Small-business owners hailed emerging mobile app technology before a hearing on Thursday and pressed lawmakers to do more to give them a "level playing field" in the online economy.

 

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