OVERNIGHT TECH: Judiciary burning midnight oil on SOPA markup

The tone of the debate was contentious, with lawmakers criticizing one another for repetitive arguments and debating whether the panel has adequate technical expertise to consider such sweeping legislation. Some SOPA supporters, like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), suggested opponents were simply trying to stall and warned that it wouldn’t work. Critics argued the committee was disingenuously relying on the technical advice of “experts” that have been paid by the content community, which strongly supports the bill, and pointed to a host objections from the founders of major Web firms and a number of the scientists that helped develop the Internet.

Aside from vocal opponents Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who have offered their own alternate online piracy bill dubbed the OPEN Act, other lawmakers expressing concern about SOPA included Cybersecurity subpanel Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). But the majority of Judiciary Committee members appeared to stand by their support of the bill, which is likely to pass the committee when it eventually comes up for a vote.

{mosads}Former FCC chairman warns Congress not to tie agency’s hands: Reed Hundt, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, urged Congress to give the agency flexibility in how it auctions spectrum, or airwaves, in an op-ed in Talking Points Memo on Thursday.

The House GOP payroll tax bill includes provisions to incentivize television broadcasters to give up their spectrum for the government to auction to wireless companies, which have struggled to meet the data demands of smartphones and tablet computers. The auction proceeds could raise up to $15 billion to pay for other provisions in the spending package.

But Hundt, who led the FCC from 1993 to 1997, warned that the bill could “foul up” the spectrum auctions by micromanaging the FCC. For example, the bill prohibits the FCC from designating additional spectrum bands for unlicensed use.

“What the country should want is for the Congress to get out of the way and let the FCC, the premier spectrum auction authority in the world, figure out how and when to hold the auctions,” Hundt wrote.


A judicial panel randomly selected the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., to hear challenges to the FCC’s order earlier this year to convert a multibillion-dollar telephone fund into a subsidy to expand Internet access.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) added language to the Defense authorization bill barring the FCC from approving LightSquared’s planned wireless network unless the Defense Department certifies it would not interfere with military GPS.

In preliminary results released Wednesday, a government technical group found that LightSquared’s proposed wireless network would cause harmful interference with the majority of general-purpose GPS receivers, including with a flight safety system.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers Wednesday his agency has not used data from Carrier IQ’s cellphone tracking software in investigations.

Tags Jason Chaffetz Sheila Jackson Lee

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