OVERNIGHT TECH: Under pressure, House committee changes cybersecurity bill

THE LEDE: Responding to criticism from privacy advocates, the House Intelligence Committee announced changes to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) on Monday.

CISPA would tear down legal barriers that discourage companies from sharing information about cyberattacks, but privacy groups warn the legislation could lead companies to hand over personal user information to spy agencies.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups are leading a week of protests against the legislation.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the committee's ranking member, said in a statement the changes "show a good faith effort to continue to work with interested parties to improve the bill."

Commitee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the lawmakers "appreciate all the constructive feedback and input we have received."

The new draft of the bill uses a different definition for a "cyber threat" that leaves out any reference to intellectual property infringement. Critics had warned that the bill's definition was so broad that it could include people illegally downloading music and movies.

The new provision defines a cyber-threat as an effort to "gain unauthorized access to a system or network."  

But Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the ACLU, said the new language is still too vague.

"It could probably be interpreted broadly enough to include [intellectual property] anyway," she said.

But a House Republican aide called Richardson's interpretation a "misreading" of the bill and said the provision is meant to protect companies from hackers trying to steal business secrets.

The new draft would also require that the Homeland Security Department have access to all information shared with the government. Privacy advocates prefer that a domestic agency like Homeland Security play a central role in the information-sharing process instead of a spy agency like the National Security Agency.

Richardson said the change does little to address privacy advocates concerns about NSA and other military agencies accessing users' private data.

The new draft would give people and companies the right to sue the government if it mishandles the information. The Republican aide said the new provision "gives the privacy protections very strong teeth."

FCC moves to fine T-Mobile: The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to fine T-Mobile $819,000 for allegedly failing to comply with a 2003 order requiring mobile phone providers to carry a sufficient variety of handsets that are compatible with hearing aids. 

The notice comes after an investigation into the carrier's hearing aid compatibility status report for 2009 and 2010 found that the carrier had not accurately represented to the commission the actual capabilities of its handsets. T-Mobile told the FCC it had relied on the manufacturer's assurances of compatibility, a practice the commission found to be "not reasonable."  

A T-Mobile spokesman told The Hill that while it had only received the notice last Friday evening and was still its reviewing options. 

“T-Mobile USA is committed to providing high-quality products and services to all of its customers, including a broad selection of handsets that are hearing aid compatible," the spokesman said.


Netflix CEO Reed Hastings accused Comcast of abandoning net-neutrality rules by exempting one of its products from monthly caps on data usage.  

Lawmakers said Google got off easy with a $25,000 fine from the FCC after accessing people's Wi-Fi networks. 

Gordon Smith, head of the National Association of Broadcasters, said his industry cannot be complacent in its competition with the wireless industry.

—Andrew Feinberg contributed.