FRIDAY'S BIG STORY: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) dropped his privacy bill about an hour before COB on Thursday—-the same bill that won (qualified) support from Intel, Microsoft, and eBay last year. On Friday, consumer groups will join Rep. Jackie Speiers (D-Calif.) as she introduces a Do-Not-Track bill, which would direct the FTC to create a system allowing Internet users to opt out of tracking by online marketers.
On hand at Speiers' press conference tomorrow: Consumer Federation of America; Consumers Union; Consumer Action; U.S. PIRG; Consumer Watchdog; Center for Digital Democracy.
Still unclear: Which House Republican will take the lead on privacy? Reps. Stearns and Bono Mack are both interested, with Stearns working on a bill.
Wireless morning-after: The technology and wireless industry were quick to praise President Obama's big mobile broadband push on Thursday, but sources in both industries acknowledged passing the bills he needs will be tough in a divided Congress where expensive legislation is out of style.
Legislative path unclear: The White House has not yet illuminated how it expects to steer the wireless legislation through Congress. Industry sources said the Commerce or Appropriations Committees are both possible starting points for the component of the bill that devotes new federal money to the FCC.
A House Appropriations aide notes: The Republican staff is looking for ways to freeze money to the FCC, not add more.
Broadcasters have previously raised concerns about incentive auctions: They might not be excited about giving up their spectrum for auction, which Obama's plan hinges on.
NAB statement: "Let's not forget that broadcasters returned more than a quarter of TV station spectrum to the government less than two years ago, and that much of that spectrum has not yet been deployed. NAB is not against the President's plan. We will work to ensure that incentive auctions remain truly voluntary, and that broadcasters who don't volunteer to return spectrum -- and the millions of viewers that we serve -- are held harmless."
House Republicans already skeptical: House E&C Chairman Upton, and Communications subcommittee Chairman Walden are questioning the price-tag on the president's plan.
Patent reform gets a Friday hearing: The House Judiciary IP subcommittee will look at how to "cross the finish line" on patent reform. Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy has passed a patent reform bill out of committee. The witnesses include David Simon, chief patent counsel at Intel; Carl Horton, chief intellectual property counsel at GE; and Paul Michel, former Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit.
Looking ahead on broadband stimulus: House Energy and Commerce Communications Chairman Greg Walden (Mich.) suggested at a hearing on Thursday that he wants to hold additional hearings about the broadband stimulus programs. His remarks came in response to committee Democrats who said they would have preferred if RUS and NTIA personnel could have testified, since they dole out the grants and loans. Walden said the RUS and NTIA overseers are out of the country at the moment.
NTIA reacts: Chief of Staff Tom Power said, "The Inspector General plays an essential role in ensuring that taxpayers' hard-earned dollars are well spent. Since the inception of the program, NTIA has worked with the IG to design our program in a manner that minimizes the risk of waste, fraud and abuse. We appreciate the Inspector General's feedback and look forward to continuing working with his office - our combined oversight activities strengthen BTOP."