This Week in Tech: Senate panel to review NSA programs


“I remain deeply concerned about the expansive use of government surveillance under [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act],” Leahy said in a statement.  “The authorities under this law, and the government’s interpretation of them, must be carefully scrutinized by Congress.  As I have said, just because we have the ability to collect huge amounts of data, it does not mean that we should be doing so.”

Intelligence officials argue the programs have been critical in preventing terrorist attacks, and that the government complies with strict privacy safeguards.

A slate of administration officials will testify before the Judiciary panel. They include: James Cole, deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice; John Inglis, deputy director of the National Security Agency; Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and Sean Joyce, FBI deputy director.

The committee will also hear from a second panel of witnesses, including Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union; Stewart Baker, a former Homeland Security Department official; and James Carr, senior judge for the U.S. District Court for the northern district of Ohio.

Glenn Greenwald and other NSA critics will speak at a congresisonal briefing hosted Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor MORE (D-Fla.) on Wednesday. Greenwald will participate via a video feed from Brazil.

The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to vote on a series of bills next week before Congress breaks for the August recess. The committee will mark up a noncontroversial cybersecurity bill that would direct the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology to work with industry to craft a framework of computer security best practices and standards, as well as another bill that calls for a study on the impact of violent video games and other media content on children.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subpanel will examine standard-essential patent disputes and antitrust law at a Tuesday hearing. A standard essential patent covers a certain type of technology that can be used across various devices, such as 3G technology in smartphones and tablets.

A company that holds a standard-essential patent is required to license the patent on "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms. Standard-essential patents have been at the heart of major patent battles among mobile companies, such as Apple and Samsung.

The full Judiciary Committee examined companies' use of exclusion orders to enforce standard-essential patents at a hearing last July. Leahy expressed concern about holders of standard-essential patents using exclusion orders from the International Trade Commission to block competitors from using their technology.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will markup the 2014 Defense Department spending bill on Tuesday morning.

The House Judiciary Committee’s subpanel on Intellectual Property on Thursday will hold its second hearing on copyright law and how it affects innovation. The hearing will focus on the cross section of copyright law and technology and is expected to feature witnesses from the tech industry.

The subcommittee held an earlier hearing that examined how content creators, such as photographers and filmmakers, view existing copyright law.