OVERNIGHT TECH: New cellphone unlocking bill targets copyright law

The DMCA bans people from circumventing a "technological measure" to gain access to a copyrighted work. The law instructs the Librarian of Congress to grant exemptions to the ban. In 2006 and 2010, the Librarian of Congress exempted cellphone unlocking from the law's restrictions, but the agency allowed the exemption to expire earlier this year. The ruling means that customers must obtain their carriers' permission to legally unlock their phones even after they have completed their contract.


The ban prompted consumer outrage, a petition on the White House website and a flurry of bills to legalize the practice. The bill from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Former US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican MORE (D-Vt.) would overturn the library's decision but would not amend the underlying copyright law.  

Obama formally names Wheeler: President Obama formally sent Tom Wheeler's nomination to serve on the Federal Communications Commission to the Senate on Thursday. He announced the pick last week.

The president still needs to name a nominee to fill the open Republican spot on the commission.

Eshoo wants study on data caps: Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) asked the Government Accountability Office on Thursday to study the impact of data caps on consumers. 

"I'm concerned that usage-based pricing, particularly when applied discriminatorily or at arbitrarily low levels, could discourage the innovation, competition, and consumer choice that have been the hallmark of the Internet's success to date," she wrote.

FCC's Katz heads to USC: The University of Southern California announced on Thursday that Zachary Katz, the FCC's chief of staff, will become a senior fellow at the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.

He will step down from the FCC later this month, along with Chairman Julius Genachowski, and join the university in July. At the center, he will work on research and programs related to broadband, mobile and media initiatives. 

Goodlatte: High-skilled immigration bill coming "very soon": House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (R-Va.) said the next piece of immigration legislation that will be put forward on his panel is a high-skilled immigration component, which he said is coming "very soon." 

"It could be next week, but we don't know for sure yet," Goodlatte told The Hill when asked about timing.

A few immigration bills on agricultural workers and E-Verify have already been introduced in the committee. The Judiciary chairman declined to discuss any details of the forthcoming bill. 

"We gotta wait until it actually is produced before I say too much," he said.

House and Senate members introduce bill to create Science Laureate: A bill to create a U.S. Science Laureate was introduced in both chambers on Thursday by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The bill is aimed at promoting science education and achievement.

The Laureate would be appointed by the president to serve a term of up to two years and travel around the country to speak about the importance of science and recent findings. The role would be akin to the Poet Laureate chosen by the Library of Congress. The bill was introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Sens. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats, poised for filibuster defeat, pick at old wounds  Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema Dems worry they'll be boxed out without changes to filibuster, voting rules  MORE (D-Hawaii) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).


Both the House and Senate are out on Friday. 


Lawmakers urge NASA to be mindful of budget constraints: Lawmakers on Thursday urged NASA to be more realistic about developing space technology in light of budget constraints.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) chided NASA for not making the cost of projects clear to Congress and warned the agency that it risked having them axed entirely.

McCain takes aim at 'unfair' cable TV bundles: Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Redistricting reform key to achieving the bipartisanship Americans claim to want Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at pressuring cable and satellite TV providers to allow their customers to pick and choose the channels they pay for.

Cable companies usually require customers to purchase a tier or bundle of channels. The system means that consumers often have to pay for dozens of channels just to gain access to the few they watch.

House Intel chairman urges White House to elevate cyber talks with China: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the White House should put China's alleged cyberattacks against U.S. government computer systems first on the list of issues to discuss in its next bilateral meeting with Beijing.

The Michigan lawmaker was responding to a Pentagon report published earlier this week that accused the Chinese government and military of hacking into U.S. government computer systems to steal intelligence.

FCC moves to speed up in-flight Internet: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved forward with a proposal on Thursday that could boost the Internet speeds available for airplane passengers and potentially bring down prices.

The FCC voted unanimously to seek public input on a proposal to devote more frequencies for air-to-ground wireless broadband signals.  

White House to release 'vast' troves of data from federal agencies: President Obama on Thursday directed federal agencies to make more data publicly accessible and easier to search, steps he said would spur private sector innovation and increase government transparency.

The president signed an executive order and a memorandum that was issued to the heads of all executive branch agencies, directing them to collect and create records in a way that supports dissemination to the public. That includes using machine-readable formats and uniform data standards, according to the new guidance.

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