Week ahead: Tech flocks to SXSW festival

Week ahead: Tech flocks to SXSW festival
© Greg Nash

Technology and political leaders are heading to Austin, Texas, this weekend for the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) festival.

The 10-day showcase draws some of the biggest names from technology, film and music, and gives policymakers a chance to weigh in on some of the industry's biggest issues.

Topping the docket this year are cybersecurity and Russia's election meddling.


Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Hillicon Valley: Trump unveils initiatives to boost 5G | What to know about the Assange case | Pelosi warns tech of 'new era' in regulation | Dem eyes online hate speech bill Warner looking at bills to limit hate speech, have more data portability on social media MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is headlining two events on Saturday. At the first panel, he'll discuss the "new battlefield" and the efforts to create a cyber strategy for the 21st century.

At the second panel, Warner will address Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and how to prevent foreign interference in the coming midterms.

Also on Saturday, Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLive coverage: Barr faces Senate panel as he prepares release of Mueller report Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — House panel approves bill restoring net neutrality | FTC asks for more help to police tech | Senate panel advances bill targeting illegal robocalls Senate panel advances bill penalizing illegal robocalls MORE (R-Kan.) will join a panel to discuss his Startup Act and how government can help entrepreneurs. It will be a bipartisan gathering, with Rep. Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezOcasio-Cortez, Jimmy Gomez do pushups during House hearing break Dems press Mnuchin on Trump tax returns Cohen's charges make getting Trump's taxes even more important MORE (D-Calif.) joining the discussion.

On Sunday, Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMenendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions Dem report questions State Dept. decision to revoke award to Trump critic Senate Dem calls on Trump to apologize for attacks on McCain MORE (D-Del.) will headline an event with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on how technology firms can help innovation in legacy industries such as energy and manufacturing.

Texas Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats Dems ramp up subpoena threats MORE (R) will also speak at an event Sunday on the future of the transatlantic alliance between the U.S. and Europe. Hurd has been a vocal voice in the House on tech issues as the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology. Expect tech to be an issue at the panel, as the European Union takes a tougher stance on regulation of American technology companies.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Lawmakers, tech set for clash over AI Trump vetoes measure ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen MORE (D-Calif.) will be doing a doubleheader as he speaks at events on how tech is changing the workforce.

Fellow California Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaThe Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles Senate throws hundreds of Trump nominees into limbo MORE (R) will speak about "the persistence of patent trolls" in the technology industry at a panel alongside Evan Engstrom of the startup trade association Engine.

Administration officials will also be at SXSW. Matt Lira, from the White House Office of American Innovation, will join a discussion titled "Tech Under Trump: A 2017/2018 Scorecard" with Consumer Technology Association President Gary Shapiro and others.

New U.S. Patent Office Director Andrei Iancu will unveil a new patent design at the festival as well.

Other federal regulators will also be represented, including from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Commissioners Mignon Clyburn (D) and Brendan Carr (R).

Carr will discuss bridging the urban and rural digital divide, an issue FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has vowed to make a priority. Clyburn will speak about the importance of diversity in tech and of emergency response during disasters.

Back in Washington, there will also be plenty of tech-related action with both the House and the Senate in session.

All eyes will be on a sex-trafficking bill as some tech groups push for last-minute changes before a Senate floor vote.

The bill would make tech companies more responsible for content published on their platforms. Supporters say it will help prevent online sex trafficking but tech companies worry it would make them liable for any content posted by third parties.

Tensions are running high after groups including startup advocate Engine and prominent companies like Twitter and Yelp urged lawmakers to make changes to the legislation.

Other groups like the Internet Association, Oracle, IBM and Facebook signed onto a different letter supporting the bill.

It's only the latest salvo in a long fight over the bill, which has divided the tech world.

The Internet Association, which represents some of the web's biggest companies, has been more supportive of the bill, while Engine, which represents smaller tech startups, has been critical.

There are also a number of tech hearings on the docket on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the Senate Commerce subcommittee on technology will hold a hearing on infrastructure and efforts to build 5G networks.

Later that afternoon, the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on cybersecurity will examine the "cyber posture of the services" at 2:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider legislation to modernize the Department of Energy's cybersecurity practices at 10 a.m.

Simultaneously, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on space warfighting capabilities.

And the House Foreign Affairs Committee will examine export controls for "cutting-edge technology" at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Rounding out the Wednesday morning House hearings, the House Financial Services Committee will host a hearing on the cryptocurrency markets.

Later on Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will examine the state of federal information technology programs.

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on how hackers use stolen data on Thursday at 2 p.m.


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