OVERNIGHT TECH: Republicans push for unrestricted airwave auction

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada becomes early Senate battleground Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada MORE (R-Nev.) worried that restrictions on participation would reduce the government's revenue, which he said is key to the auction.

"The fewer conditions that are set on the auction, the more robust and the more money you'll get from the auction," Steve Largent, the CEO of wireless industry group CTIA, said. 

The Justice Department's Antitrust Division has urged the Federal Communications Commission to use caps or limits to ensure that Verizon and AT&T do not buy up all of the spectrum licenses at auction. The agency warned that the industry giants could use the auction to kill off competition from Sprint, T-Mobile and regional carriers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Delara Derakhshani, a policy counsel for the Consumers Union, warned that the auction won't benefit consumers unless it promotes competition.

"The two largest providers of wireless services today are positioned to dominate the auction unless the government puts in place appropriate rules," she testified. 

Also at the hearing, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenators turn up the heat on Amazon, data brokers during hearing GOP Sen. Braun says abortion laws should be left up to states Klobuchar says 'best way' to protect abortion rights is to codify Roe v. Wade into law MORE (D-Minn.) pushed for cellphone unlocking legislation. She said that while she supports a bill that would overturn the decision by the Library of Congress to ban unlocking, it is only a "Band-Aid." Instead, Congress should direct the FCC to legalize the practice, Klobuchar argued.

Lawmakers applaud Obama's focus on patent trolls: Lawmakers applauded President Obama on Tuesday for taking executive actions to address "patent trolls" and for urging Congress to enact legislation.

“I share the President’s objective of reducing the drain on our economy caused by patent trolling," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyVermont Lt. Gov. launches bid for US House Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Biden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans MORE (D-Vt.) said. "I look forward to working with the President as I continue my bipartisan and bicameral work to reduce trolling and protect American innovators and retailers.”

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 he welcomes the White House proposals.

“Today’s announcement from the White House is a good indicator that momentum is building behind efforts to enact meaningful legislation to address abusive patent litigation, which strikes at the very heart of American innovation and jobs," he said.

Leahy and Goodlatte have floated a draft proposal that would curb abusive patent litigation.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynHouse approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike McConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill MORE (R-Texas), who has offered his own bill, said he is "pleased that President Obama is joining this important conversation."

Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Mel Watt (R-N.C.) said they still need to determine whether the patent litigation problem "rises to the level to support a legislative response."

"While litigation abuse can be a drain on our economy, the American judicial system is the envy of the world because of its openness, and we must carefully weigh the ramifications of any proposal of a co-equal branch of government that may unduly burden access to the courts," the lawmakers said. 

They noted that the Government Accountability Office will release a report on the issue, and said "a Judiciary hearing should follow shortly thereafter to develop an informed, targeted response.”

IBM, Microsoft and the Business Software Association expressed concern with one provision of the White House proposal that would apply certain restrictions to software patents. Microsoft warned the provision would "create a discriminatory legal standard for software inventions, putting at risk jobs and innovation in the technology and manufacturing sectors of the economy."

Rockefeller opposes cyber liability protections: Businesses should not be given liability protections for agreeing to voluntary cybersecurity standards, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerHumorless politics a sad sign of our times Bottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease MORE (D-W.Va.) said in a letter to the Commerce Department on Tuesday.

"Giving companies unprecedented prospective liability protections based on cybersecurity standards that they themselves have developed would increase the likelihood that the American taxpayers will one day find themselves on the hook for corporate bailouts of unknown size or scope following a cyber disaster," he wrote. 

He warned that liability protection "discourages rather than promotes" cybersecurity. 


ON TAP

The Senate Homeland Security Committee's hearing on reducing federal information technology waste has been postponed.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Obama pressures Dems to take on patent trolls: President Obama on Tuesday urged Congress to pass legislation combating abusive patent claims, putting pressure on Democrats who have resisted taking that step.

Google wants more data during disasters: A lack of open standards necessary to easily share emergency information released by the government is hampering technology companies' efforts to keep the public informed during natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, a Google official said Tuesday. 

FAA electronics ban hurts productivity, study finds: The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) ban on the use of electronic devices during flights is costing the U.S. 105 million hours of productivity, according to a recent study. 

Administration using secret emails: Several of President Obama’s political appointees are using secret government email accounts, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The administration officials contend the separate addresses used by the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and other departments are necessary to keep their primary inboxes from overflowing.

House GOP launches new site: House Republicans are launching a new website aimed at engaging citizens in the legislative process by allowing them to “co-sponsor” bills introduced in Congress. Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorRepublicans eager to take on Spanberger in Virginia Virginia emerging as ground zero in battle for House majority McAuliffe's loss exposes deepening Democratic rift MORE (R-Va.) touted the new site, cosponsor.gov, at a press conference Tuesday.


Please send tips and comments to Brendan Sasso, bsasso@thehill.com, and Jennifer Martinez, jmartinez@thehill.com.

Follow Hillicon Valley on Twitter: @HilliconValley, @BrendanSasso, @JenMartinez