OVERNIGHT TECH: Energy & Commerce passes net-neutrality repeal

THE LEDE: House Republicans won another battle in their war on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net-neutrality regulations Tuesday. A resolution to repeal the FCC's rules passed the Energy and Commerce Committee and is now headed to the full House. 

But the resolution would need the signature of President Obama, a net-neutrality supporter, to take effect. Democrats, including Communications subpanel ranking member Anna Eshoo (Calif.), and net-neutrality supporters expressed disappointment over the vote.

White House wants longer sentences for IP violators: White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel recommended legislative changes that would significantly increase the penalties for online piracy and counterfeiting while expanding the government's ability to enforce copyright laws as part of a white paper released Tuesday. Espinel recommended Congress clarify that illegally streaming online content can be a felony in certain circumstances and increase the penalties for knowingly selling counterfeit products for use by the military or law enforcement.

White House, Espinel back performance right/tax: Among the White House's 20 recommendations was an endorsement of the seemingly-unrelated performance right, which would require radio stations to pay royalties to musicians for playing their music over the air. The recording industry has long pushed to extend royalties beyond only songwriters against fierce opposition from the broadcasters. Espinel told Hillicon the issue is one of "basic fairness."

Facebook touts economic impact: The social network is using the Obama administration's recent focus on innovation to call attention to its ability to create jobs for developers who leverage the Facebook platform. Users now install more than 20 million applications per day through the site. Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes notes there has been a 245 percent increase in job openings that have "Facebook" as a key word since July 2009 as more firms look for social-media savvy from employees. 

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell to head cable trade group: The National Cable and Telecommunications Association announced Tuesday that former FCC Chairman Michael Powell will succeed Kyle McSlarrow as president. McSlarrow is leaving for Comcast; Powell will begin in late April. Powell, son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, was first appointed to the FCC under President Clinton and named chairman under President George W. Bush. He was a staunch advocate for media deregulation during his tenure.

Government seeks another delay in 'Fox' indecency case: The Solicitor General's office has asked for another extension within which to file a certiorari petition in the Fox indecency case, which led a federal appeals court to strike down the FCC's indecency policy. The government is expected to ask the Supreme Court to review the decision before the deadline, which would be delayed from March 22 to April 21 by the move.

AT&T data caps raise flags: Both Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, raised concerns Tuesday about AT&T's plan to charge DSL users extra for consuming more than 150 gigabytes of data per month. Markey said the move would undermine the goal of increasing broadband adoption, while Consumers Union argued the caps would restrict consumers' choices and ability to watch video online.

Google cracks down on counterfeits: Google general counsel Kent Walker announced a series of changes to the firm's AdWords and AdSense program designed to cut down on users seeking to advertise counterfeit goods. The search-engine giant pledged to act on reliable counterfeit complaints on AdWords within 24 hours.

People finder big in Japan: Google spokesperson Jenna Wandres also e-mailed this morning to let us know Google has re-launched its Person Finder tool in the wake of this week's earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Wandres said the tool already has more entries there than from Haiti, Chile and New Zealand combined.


- The Senate Commerce Committee will hold its second hearing on the state of online consumer privacy at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Witnesses include Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling, ACLU legislative counsel Chris Calabrese and Microsoft deputy general counsel Erich Andersen.

- The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. in the Cannon House Office Building examining cybersecurity threats to the U.S. economy and critical infrastructure. Slated witnesses include DHS Deputy Under Secretary Phillip Reitinger, GAO Director of Information Security issues Greg Wilshusen and CSIS Director James Lewis.

- FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will speak at a wireless spectrum event hosted by Mobile Future in Washington Wednesday morning. "Chairman Genachowski will highlight the steps the U.S. must take to meet the growing spectrum needs of American’s consumers and small businesses to ensure that mobile broadband innovation can thrive," according to a statement.


- Netflix moves into original programming by purchasing a big-budget series starring Kevin Spacey.

- Bloomberg reports Google is planning to test a mobile payment service in the next four months.

- The Society of Professional Journalists is slamming a new Utah law as "anti-Democratic secrecy legislation."

- The FCC's public safety working group met on Tuesday.

- GAO said OMB's IT Dashboard is still relying on faulty data.

- Genachowski said Sept. 11 is the deadline for progress on a public safety network.