OVERNIGHT TECH: Markey champions E-Rate in first Senate hearing


THE LEDE: Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyWarren proposes 'Blue New Deal' to protect oceans There's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Trump administration drops plan to face scan all travelers leaving or entering US MORE (D-Mass.) praised E-Rate, a program he helped create when he was in the House, at his first Senate hearing on Wednesday.

"I love the fact that my first hearing in the Senate is about the E-Rate," Markey said at a Commerce Committee hearing. "In a lot of ways, it is the educational program of the last 18 years in America."

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E-Rate, which is managed by the Federal Communications Commission, funds Internet service in schools and libraries. President Obama has called on the FCC to temporarily expand E-Rate to provide Internet speeds of up to one gigabit per second in schools across the country.

"A program designed nearly seventeen years ago needs to reflect the connectivity and technology needs of our schools and libraries today and in the future," Committee Chairman Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) said.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on Friday to move forward with the president's proposal.

Republicans on the committee praised the benefits of E-Rate, but urged the FCC to focus on making the program more efficient rather than growing its size. E-Rate, which costs about $2 billion per year, is funded by fees on monthly phone bills.

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Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (R-N.H.) criticized the program's application process, and ranking member John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial McConnell: Senate impeachment trial will begin in January McConnell: Senate will not take up new NAFTA deal this year MORE (R-S.D.) said any modernization initiative should rely on the existing budget.

"It is very important for all government programs to stay within their means in this difficult fiscal and economic environment," Thune said.

Thune praised Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai's speech from Tuesday laying out a plan to crack down on waste in the program.

Spectrum auction bill: Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieShimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering Hillicon Valley: Tech grapples with California 'gig economy' law | FCC to investigate Sprint over millions in subsidies | House bill aims to protect telecom networks | Google wins EU fight over 'right to be forgotten' | 27 nations sign cyber rules pact House bill aims to secure telecom networks against foreign interference MORE (R-Ky.) are expected to introduce legislation on Thursday to auction the 1755-1780 MHz spectrum band. The wireless industry has been eyeing the spectrum, which is currently in federal hands. The bill would pair the spectrum with the 2155-2180MHz band.

Matsui and Guthrie are the leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee's spectrum working group, which has been studying ways to provide more spectrum for the private sector.

US blames China for halting ITA trade talks: United States Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision Democrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report MORE on Wednesday said the U.S. is "extremely disappointed" that negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) at the World Trade Organization were suspended, blaming China's position for ultimately halting the talks.

"Unfortunately, a diverse group of Members participating in the negotiations determined that China’s current position makes progress impossible at this stage," Froman said in a statement. "We are hopeful that China will carefully consider the concerns it heard this week from many of its negotiating partners, and revise its position in a way that will allow the prompt resumption of the negotiations.”

The ITA eliminates tariffs on a broad range of information technology products. Member countries have been negotiating about expanding the list of products covered under the agreement.

Coalition of 50 industry groups press Congress to combat patent trolls: A coalition of roughly 50 industry groups, ranging from The Internet Association to the Motion Picture Association of America, called on Congress to pass legislation that's aimed at combating patent trolls. In a letter sent to House and Senate leadership on Wednesday, the industry groups note that patent trolls' suits against other companies have quadrupled since 2005, and they're increasingly targeting startups that are just getting off the ground.

Patent trolls refer to entities that acquire bundles of patents and make money off of them by threatening to sue other companies for infringement. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHorowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe Horowitz: 'We found no bias' in decision to open probe Horowitz: 'Very concerned' about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE (D-Vt.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) are working on legislation that tackles the issue. 

"There is no single solution to this complex question, but meaningful reforms like these would make it more difficult for patent trolls to continue their destructive business model," the letter reads. "This broad support and the willingness of Congress to work across the aisle and across chambers on this complex issue is a testament to its importance."

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Information Technology Industry Council and the Computer and Communications Industry Association also signed onto the letter.

ON TAP

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will hold a hearing on Thursday to consider whether federal data breach legislation is necessary.

The witnesses slated to testify are CompTIA Chief Legal Officer Dan Liutikas; Debbie Matties, vice president of privacy at CTIA; Jeff Greene, senior policy counsel of cybersecurity and identity at Symantec; Kevin Richards, senior vice president of government affairs at TechAmerica; Andrea Matwyshyn, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania; and David Thaw, visiting assistant professor of law at the University of Connecticut's law school.  

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity subcommittee will examine President Obama’s executive order on cybersecurity and the administration’s development of a cybersecurity framework under the cyber order at a hearing.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Franklin heads to privacy, civil liberties board: Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior policy counsel at The Constitution Project, is leaving the civil liberties watchdog group to serve as the executive director of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Franklin will join the newly formed board as it reviews the government's use of surveillance law in the wake of the revelations about a pair of National Security surveillance programs that are used to collect Americans' phone records and monitor the Internet traffic of foreign targets.

ACLU: Police are using license plate readers to collect people's location data:
Police departments across the United States are using license plate readers to store information about people's whereabouts in databases without their knowledge, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) concludes in a report released on Wednesday.

The report found that police departments are storing people's license plate data and location information for multiple years — or in some cases, indefinitely — even though the majority of drivers whose whereabouts have been recorded haven't been accused of a crime. For example, only 47 out of every one million license plates read in Maryland were linked to serious crimes, the report says.

DOJ official admits collecting data unrelated to terrorism:
The second-ranking Justice Department official acknowledged on Wednesday that the government has been collecting phone records that are not relevant to any terrorism investigation.

Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the government has the authority to seize records only if they are "relevant" to a terrorism investigation.

Bill would require Senate confirmation for surveillance judges: Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats seek leverage for trial Pence's office denies Schiff request to declassify call with Ukrainian leader Comey, Schiff to be interviewed by Fox's Chris Wallace MORE (D-Calif.) announced on Wednesday that he will introduce legislation that would require that the president nominate and the Senate confirm all judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Currently, the chief justice of the United States names the 11 FISA Court judges, who all also serve on other federal courts. As a result of this selection process, 10 of the 11 FISA judges were originally appointed to the federal bench by a Republican president.

GOP senator: White House 'helping friends' led to lax online gambling rules: Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDemocrats spend big to put Senate in play This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (R-Nev.) thinks that the Obama administration was trying to help "friends" when it changed rules on Internet gambling in 2011.

“The administration changed all this, changed it all,” he said on Wednesday. “And the reason that the administration changed this was so that their friends in Illinois and New York could put their lottery tickets online.”

Senators deride online gambling regs: Lawmakers on Wednesday expressed broad agreement that more regulations are needed for online gambling.

A Senate panel on Wednesday derided out-of-date regulations that make it easy for almost anyone to bet money online without proving their identity.

Lofgren, Sensenbrenner urge administration to let tech giants publish surveillance data: Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerControversy on phone records intensifies amid impeachment Judiciary hearing gets heated as Democratic counsel interrogates GOP staffer Doug Collins wants hearing with GOP witnesses before articles of impeachment MORE (R-Wis.) urged top administration officials on Wednesday to let Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other tech companies publish information on the national security requests they receive for user data.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Pelosi refers to Sinclair's Rosen as 'Mr. Republican Talking Points' over whistleblower question Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy MORE and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the two Judiciary Committee members said the government has prevented tech companies from "taking basic steps to preserve confidence in U.S. Internet services" by barring them from making this data public. 

Congress will kill Patriot Act if spying continues, bill's author threatens: The author of the Patriot Act warned on Wednesday that Congress would refuse to reauthorize the law if the National Security Agency continues its vast phone record collection program.

"There are not the votes in the House of Representatives to renew Section 215, and then you're going to lose the business record access provision of the Patriot Act entirely," Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said during a Judiciary Committee hearing. "It's got to be changed, and you have to change how you operate Section 215 otherwise ... you're not going to have it anymore."

Markey named to Senate Commerce Committee:
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will continue his longtime work on telecommunications issues in the upper chamber.

Markey, who was sworn into the Senate on Tuesday after winning a special election, has been named to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission and technology issues. 


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