OVERNIGHT TECH: House panel to examine NSA surveillance power

"The number, complexity and overlap of authorities and rules is such that a simple list of them will not be sufficient for the public to understand what its government is up to, nor for the Congress to exercise meaningful oversight," Martin said in written testimony.


"The executive branch, however is operating on the basis of an understanding concerning the standards and scope of legal collection and use of information about Americans. That understanding needs to be publicly shared with the Congress and the American public."

Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Judiciary Committee have expressed concern about the breadth of the surveillance programs. Rep. John Conyers (Mich.), the top Democrat on the committee, has introduced legislation with other lawmakers that would limit the NSA’s powers under the Patriot Act.

Republicans praise Pai on E-Rate: Ajit Pai's speech on Tuesday calling for an overhaul of the E-Rate program won rave reviews from Republicans and conservative activists. 

Pai called on the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on waste and fraud in the program, which subsidizes Internet service in schools and libraries.

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE (R-N.H.) complained that New Hampshire residents pay more into the program than they receive, and said Pai had offered a "bold new plan to make the ... program fairer and more efficient."

"I applaud Commissioner Pai's calls to reform the federal E-Rate program, as well as his efforts to eliminate its inefficiencies and return spending control to local schools," Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntFrustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Pelosi to require masks on House floor GOP, Democratic relief packages B apart on vaccine funding MORE (R-Mo.) said. "I hope the FCC will embrace local flexibility and avoid heavy-handed federal mandates moving forward.” 

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said he agrees with Pai.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said Pai's plan "will reduce costs and promote transparency and efficiency in what has been a wasteful government program."

President Obama has called on the FCC to expand E-Rate to provider faster Internet in schools across the country. 

Barton hopeful on online poker: Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said on Tuesday that he is gathering co-sponsors for his bill to legalize online poker and that he is hopeful it will gain traction on Capitol Hill.

On a conference call with reporters, Barton said he expects to have between a dozen and two dozen initial co-sponsors. He said he hopes that Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will allow him to hold a hearing on the bill and a subcommittee markup, but he hasn't received any promises. 

If the bill can clear a subcommittee vote, it will be up to Nevada Sens. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill McConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule MORE (D) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R) to gain momentum in the Senate, according to Barton.

"If the Senate is serious, I think the House will be very serious," he said. 

Unlike a recent bill from Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), Barton's bill, the Internet Poker Freedom Act, would apply only to poker, and not other forms of online gambling. 

"Other games — I'm not opposed to them, but they're pure chance," Barton, an avid poker player himself, said. "I think it's much easier to pass a poker-only bill."


The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning to examine President Obama's plan to expand the E-Rate program to provide faster Internet in schools.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that bringing next generation Internet connectivity into classrooms and libraries will give more students a brighter future. We’re going to take a look at how to strengthen E-Rate so every young person has the opportunity to gain the skills they’ll need to compete in a global economy,” Chairman Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) said in a statement.

Senate Commerce's subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance will hold an afternoon hearing to examine whether online gambling companies are exploiting consumers.


Secret court agrees to unseal Yahoo's case against surveillance: Yahoo scored a legal win on Monday after the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court agreed to unseal its argument in a 2008 case against government surveillance. 

FISC judge Reggie Walton filed an order that directed the government to conduct a declassification review of the 2008 ruling and the legal briefs submitted to the court on the case. The court said it will redact classified information in the public version of the ruling.

Church, gun owners sue NSA: A Unitarian church, a gun rights group and a host of other activist organizations sued to end the National Security Agency's massive phone record collection program.

Unlike other lawsuits, which have focused on privacy rights, Tuesday's suit argues that the spying violates the constitutional right to free association.

Microsoft asks DOJ to share security requests: Microsoft's top lawyer urged Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderObamas discuss pandemic, voting, anxiety and community in new podcast Joy Reid debut delivers 2.6 million viewers for MSNBC The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Republicans rejigger summer convention plans MORE to personally intervene and allow the tech giant to share information about its handling of national security requests for user data.

In a scathing letter sent to Holder, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said there is no longer a government need to keep the information private since the release of a number of classified documents in recent months detailing the National Security Agency’s surveillance of phone and Internet data.

Aereo wins again: A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied a petition from TV broadcasters to reconsider a decision that allows Internet video service Aereo to continue operating.

Pelosi staffer heads to Microsoft: Longtime Democratic operative Jennifer Crider is leaving House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office to work for Microsoft.

Crider, a former deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and political director for Pelosi, emailed contacts Tuesday morning to announce her new post as the director of public relations at the tech giant.

MPAA hires House aide for global policy: The Motion Picture Association of America announced that it has hired Shanna Winters, a House Democratic aide, to be the senior vice president of global policy.

White House veteran joins NBC: Kimberley Harris, a White House veteran, has been named executive vice president and general counsel at NBCUniversal.

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