OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate to review NSA spying

THE LEDE: Senators will have a chance to grill intelligence officials on Wednesday over the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

How critical senators are of the programs at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing could be a gauge of the Senate's interest in reining in the surveillance.

The hearing comes one week after the House narrowly defeated an amendment from Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports MORE (R-Mich.) that would have curbed the NSA's phone record collection program.


The government witnesses will be 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.

The hearing has been rescheduled to 9 a.m.

Docs to be declassified: The Director of National Intelligence plans to soon declassify more documents, an agency spokesman confirmed.

CNN first reported that the agency would soon disclose "white papers" on surveillance and additional information about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

House panel to vote on eliminating FCC reports: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on Wednesday morning on legislation to limit the number of reports the Federal Communications Commission must submit to Congress.

The bill, the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act, is expected to earn bipartisan support. 

MIT report finds no wrongdoing in Swartz case: A report released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds no wrongdoing on the university's part in its handling of the prosecution against Internet activist and computer programmer Aaron Swartz. The report was conducted by a team of MIT professors, who reviewed 10,000 pages of documents and spoke to roughly 50 people, including staff, students and faculty.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif said the report "sets the record straight by dispelling widely circulated myths" in a letter to the university's community. In January, after Swartz took his own life, Reif called for a review to look into the university's role in Swartz's prosecution. 

"For example, it makes clear that MIT did not 'target' Aaron Swartz, we did not seek federal prosecution, punishment or jail time, and we did not oppose a plea bargain," Reif writes. 

The report was widely panned by Swartz's supporters.

"The report does a disservice to MIT’s community, Aaron’s family and friends, and the world at large which lost one of the greatest minds of a generation. MIT does not seem to understand that a few simple, reasonable actions would have saved Aaron's life," Demand Progress campaigner Charlie Furman said in a statement. "If the university had said publicly, ‘we don’t want this prosecution to go forward’ there would have been no case and Aaron would be alive today."

In 2011, federal prosecutors accused Swartz of breaking into a computer network at MIT and downloading 4.8 million documents from JSTOR, a subscription service for academic articles. He faced up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

The New York Times has more coverage

Tech companies call on Judiciary to combat patent trolls: The Internet Association's member companies — including Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay — joined with major retailers like J.Crew, Macy's and Wal-Mart on Tuesday to call on Judiciary Committee leaders to tackle patent trolls. In a letter sent to House and Senate Judiciary panel leaders, the companies argued that patent trolls have "exploded in size and scope" and represent the bulk of all patent litigation. 

The companies voiced support for a legislative solution that would expand a Patent Office program currently used to re-examine patents related to financial services, called the Covered Business Method Program. That approach is taken in a bill introduced last week by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.). 

Expanding the program "would enable the Patent Office to reconsider the validity of issued business method patents and provide a targeted 'surgical strike' against the worst of these frequently abused patents," the companies said in the letter.

POTUS participates in Amazon Kindle Singles interview:  President Obama sat down for an interview with Amazon Kindle Singles editor David Blum during his visit to an Amazon factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. Kindle Singles are a type of e-book produced by Amazon that are shorter than a novel and usually reserved for long-form journalism pieces and essays.


Senate Commerce approves Wheeler ...: The Senate Commerce Committee approved Tom Wheeler's nomination to lead the FCC. 

But it could be months before the full Senate votes on the nomination. Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney Top Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles MORE (R-S.D.), the committee's ranking member, said he expects the Senate will only vote on Wheeler along with a nominee for the open Republican seat on the commission. 

... And cybersecurity bill: The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved an industry-backed bill aimed at boosting the nation's cybersecurity on Tuesday, paving the way for a full Senate vote on the measure before the end of the year.

The bill, authored by Senate Commerce leaders Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) would codify a section of President Obama's cybersecurity order that tasks the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) to work with businesses to craft a framework of cybersecurity best practices and standards.

... And media violence study: The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously advanced legislation on Tuesday to study the impact of violent video games and other media on children. 

Chairman Rockefeller introduced the bill last year after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He argued that studying violent media can be a first step toward more aggressive regulation. 

Copyright witnesses: A slate of startup executives are expected to testify about the intersection of copyright and technology at a Thursday hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee's Intellectual Property subpanel.

Industry presses on immigration: Facebook, Google, IBM and Cisco joined a coalition of roughly 400 organizations from various industries on Tuesday to call for the House to overhaul the country's immigration laws. 

The tech companies were joined by Hilton, General Electric, AT&T and a range of organizations that represent the agriculture, housing, hospitality and retail industries in sending the pro-immigration reform letter to House leaders John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerWhat's a party caucus chair worth? Biden's relationship with top House Republican is frosty Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' MORE (R-Ohio) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The groups urged the House leaders to "not let this momentum slip and progress vanish" on immigration legislation. 

U.S. code online: House Republican leadership announced on Tuesday that they have made the entire United States federal code available for download.

Companies accepted snooping: Verizon and other telephone companies didn't protest when a secret surveillance court demanded that they turn over records on all of their customers. 

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders on Monday, Judge Reggie Walton of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court revealed that no telephone company or other service provider has ever resisted a court order under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

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