Overnight Tech: FCC Internet privacy rules loom

LEDE: Could the wait be over at the FCC on privacy? We'll find out soon.

Thursday is the deadline for the agency to put items on the tentative agenda for the March open meeting. Which means we could get our first information tomorrow on Chairman Tom Wheeler's anticipated plan to police privacy at broadband providers.

Wheeler talked about the privacy issue in a laudatory Verge interview (headline: "The Dragonslayer") released Wednesday.

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"When these companies were operating as phone companies, the information generated by a phone call couldn't be released unless the consumer said so," he said, after identifying privacy as the next big net neutrality battleground. "You've got to ask yourself the question: why is the information generated by an internet search different?"

Privacy advocates are hoping the FCC will give itself more powers than the Federal Trade Commission, which previously oversaw privacy for broadband service providers, possesses. Industry is hoping they mirror the FTC standard as closely as possible. Industry groups laid out some of their ideas in a letter earlier this month. The privacy group response is here.

DON'T WORRY, IT'S GOING TO BE A BUSY MEETING REGARDLESS: Even if the commission decides to deal with the privacy item at another meeting, it will still be considering the proposed reforms to Lifeline.

FCC GETS ROBOCALL RECOMMENDATIONS FROM DEM: Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownPortman secures another union endorsement over Democratic challenger in Ohio Sanders aide dismisses challenging Kaine VP spot Union group backs GOP Sen. Portman in Ohio race MORE (D-Ohio) issued a series of recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission to limit cellphone robocalls that government debt collectors make -- which were exempted from some consumer protection laws. Those recommendations include things like limiting calls to only the person who owes debt and not allowing robocalls if the debt is no longer owned by the federal government.

RATE REGULATION BILL GETS A MARKUP: The full House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up Rep. Adam Kinzinger's (R-Ill.) No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act on Tuesday. It's a busy day for tech hearings: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Ajit Pai will be talking to appropriators, and Senate Commerce is hearing from witnesses on self-driving cars.

AND FCC REAUTHORIZATION GETS A MARKUP, TOO: The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduling a markup on the FCC Reauthorization of 2016 Act for next week - Wednesday, March 16th. Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense FCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking How the new aviation law will affect your travel MORE (R-S.D.) unveiled his bill Monday. If it becomes law it will be the first time since 1990 that the agency is reauthorized.

TECH IN SPOTLIGHT DURING ANTITRUST HEARING: Senators questioned the administration about what it is doing to monitor potential antitrust or unfair practice allegations against a number of major technology companies, from Google to Apple to Amazon. During a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, a Justice Department official said it has a "number of active investigations going on" in the telecom space, focusing more on Internet service providers. Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, "We are absolutely vigilant when it comes to practices of Google or any other company, and if we see a violation, we will absolutely not hesitate to take action. But I'm afraid I can't go into more detail."

UNIVISION PARTNERS WITH TEXT NEWS SERVICE DURING DEBATE: Univision is partnering with Purple, a service that sends users election updates via text message, for tonight's Democratic primary debate. The service will deliver updates on the event. If you've never heard of Purple, here's a Nieman Lab profile from last week.

 

ON TAP:

At 9:00 a.m., the FCC holds a workshop on the topics in the Spectrum Frontiers NPRM.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The White House is putting its full backing behind a plan to offer Internet subsidies to low-income Americans.

Americans remain largely split over Apple's defiance of an FBI court order to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

A new video shows a Google self-driving car hitting a bus in California, the first such accident where the tech company said its vehicle was at fault.

The Obama administration strongly opposed a bill to overhaul the government's open-records laws and lobbied behind the scenes to prevent it from getting to the president's desk last Congress, according to emails and talking points obtained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The White House rolled out another set of tech commitments on Wednesday as President Obama prepares to speak at the popular South by Southwest Interactive conference.

 

 

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