OVERNIGHT TECH: Schmidt defends Google's online dominance at hearing

THE LEDE: Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt spent much of Wednesday's hearing in front of the Senate Antitrust panel evading questions about the impact of Google placing its own services at the top of its search rankings. Schmidt denied that Google was gaming its search results, claiming the firm is simply trying to provide consumers with the answers they seek. He also argued the open structure of the Web allows consumers to freely choose to use a competing service if they are unsatisfied with Google's results. Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and ranking member Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (R-Utah) pressed Google on the potential conflict of interest between its search business and other offerings, but Schmidt seemed to reject that any division is necessary.

House panel approves E-Verify expansion: The House Judiciary Committee reported Chairman Lamar Smith's (R-Texas) Legal Workforce Act to the House floor by a vote of 22-13 on Wednesday. The bill would require all U.S. employers to use E-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security system that checks a new hires' Social Security number against a database to ensure they are legally allowed to work in the U.S. The ACLU was quick to condemn the legislation as a violation of privacy that could quickly evolve into a national ID system, especially since Smith's bill authorizes the use of E-Verify in cases other than verification of employment eligibility.

First hearing in AT&T/T-Mobile case: Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle set Feb. 13 as the trial date for the Justice Department's lawsuit to block AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. Sprint has filed its own lawsuit against the merger of its rivals; Segal ruled against Sprint's motion to have access to the documents that the government and AT&T will share with each other as part of their trial, and scheduled Oct. 24 for an oral argument of whether to consolidate the two cases.

“We are pleased that Judge Huvelle decided to move both cases very quickly and in an expedited manner," said Vonya McCann, senior vice president of government affairs at Sprint. "Although the judge did not consolidate Sprint’s case with the government’s case at this time, we are pleased that the judge will hear from Sprint on the merits in oral arguments on October 24.” 

Gaming association calls for online poker rules: The American Gaming Association, a trade group that represents major casinos, called on Tuesday for Congress to establish federal guidelines for online poker in the wake of allegations against the website Full Tilt Poker. According to the Justice Department, Full Tilt cheated players out of hundreds of millions of dollars in a massive Ponzi scheme. 

"We applaud the DOJ for this latest action, but every time a shady website is shut down, an even shadier one pops up," said Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., president of the AGA.

"The type of illegal activity the DOJ is accusing Full Tilt Poker of will continue to happen in the absence of the same tough, stringent regulations and enforcement that successfully govern brick-and-mortar casinos. … The time to act is now, or millions of Americans playing online will continue to face a risky environment. Congress needs to establish federal guidelines so that states that choose to can regulate and license online poker, and bring the jobs and revenues associated with this billion dollar industry to the U.S.”

The AGA released its own code of conduct for online poker companies on Tuesday. The code includes regular audits and background checks of company employees.  

Lawmakers discuss cloud computing: Information technology executives praised the potential benefits of cloud computing at a hearing of the House Science Committee's Technology and Innovation subpanel Wednesday.

Dan Reed, vice president of Microsoft's Technology Policy Group, said the federal government should be at the forefront of using cloud computing and invest in further research and development.

Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), the subcommittee's chairman, said cloud computing can help the government agencies "reduce their massive taxpayer-funded IT budgets." He also identified challenges to cloud computing's widespread adoption, such as in cybersecurity, and whether networks will be "up to the task of handling the massive amounts of data that will be transmitted over the Internet."


The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a business meeting to mark up a series of data privacy and security bills, including offerings from Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Senate committee approves 0 million for state election security efforts Senate panel approves three spending bills MORE (D-Vt.) and Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP's Kennedy sends warning shot to Trump nominee Menashi Democratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals Grassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel MORE (D-Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). The slew of high-profile data breaches over the past year has built momentum for a new national data-breach standard, along with measures designed to protect consumers’ personal information from malicious attacks on e-commerce providers.

The Federal Communications Commission will hold its monthly open meeting Thursday morning, where public safety will be the only item on the agenda. The commission will consider moving forward with its framework for the deployment of Next-Generation 911 services, which would enable the public to send texts, photos, videos and data to 911 dispatchers to speed response times. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will also present a white paper on using aerial communications hardware to allow first-responders to communicate with each other in the wake of a disaster that causes severe damage to terrestrial communications networks.

Sharis A. Pozen, chief of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, will speak at Georgetown Law's Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium at 1:00 p.m. Her division is responsible for the government's lawsuit against AT&T and T-Mobile.


Wireless start-up LightSquared claimed to have found a solution that will prevent its network from interfering with GPS devices, even especially sensitive precision devices.

Yahoo will host the first-ever Hispanic-focused online roundtable with President Obama, the company announced Wednesday.

Verizon chief executive Lowell McAdam said AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA was inevitable due to wireless carriers' need for additional spectrum.