OVERNIGHT TECH: Broadband among ‘bread and butter' issues in SOTU

THE LEDE: President Obama is calling his plan to expand municipal broadband around the country a "bread and butter" issue for the middle class.

In a YouTube video Monday, he said the broadband plan unveiled last week will be highlighted in his State of the Union address to show how regular people can share in a growing economy. The speech, he said, will try to capitalize on momentum gained since the economic crisis. He will tout the broadband initiative as an example of how the country can do that.


"If you think about what's already happened just in the last month in addition to major initiatives around immigration, around Cuba, around climate change," he said in the video. "When it comes to dealing with bread and butter issues for middle class families all across America, we've put forward proposals for making community college free so that young people can access the education that they need. We are working together with the private sector to increase Internet access for communities who feel left out — to increase competition and to protect our privacy and security. That's just been in the last month."

Obama has gone across the country in recent days to pitch his plans for greater competition for broadband service, increased cybersecurity protections and extra defenses to protect people’s digital data, ahead of Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address. The speech is expected to lean on populist policy proposals, including changes to the tax code that would increase liabilities for the wealthy and Wall Street.

Will patent reform get a mention?: During last year's speech, President Obama included a single line in support of legislation meant to rein in so-called patent trolls: "And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation," Obama said a year ago.  

Advocates are hopeful the issue will get another mention after the Democratic-controlled Senate failed to advance legislation last year. Observers see it as increasingly likely that a reform bill will advance this Congress, as the GOP now controls both chambers.

What about net neutrality?: The president may also make a mention of net neutrality, which he has tied to his call for states to back off of laws restricting municipal governments from building out their own public broadband services. Obama memorably waded into the waters in November by calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to treat broadband service like a utility. Weeks before new FCC rules are expected to do just that, the president may decide to reiterate his plea.

Bing, MSNBC, CNN to track SOTU reactions: CNN and MSNBC are teaming up with Microsoft’s Bing Pulse to get live feedback on viewers’ reactions to Obama’s address on Tuesday. The networks will use the audience tracking service differently, Microsoft said.

Senate Commerce announces net neutrality witness list: The Senate Commerce Committee's net neutrality hearing on Wednesday will include a former FCC commissioner as well as representatives from Amazon, the wireless and telecommunications industry and a public interest group. The six witnesses are Meredith Attwell Baker, the chief executive of CTIA-The Wireless Association; former GOP FCC commissioner Robert McDowell; Paul Misener, who leads public policy at Amazon; Gene Kimmelman, chief executive of Public Knowledge;  Tom Simmons of Midcontinent Communications; and Nicol Turner-Lee of the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council.

Baker, Misener and Turner-Lee will also testify at a similar House hearing Wednesday.

Senate Dem holds net neutrality roundtable: Democratic Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellData privacy: Consumers want it, businesses need it — it's time our government delivers it Don't revive logging in national forests Top Finance Dem offers bill to help those repaying student loans save for retirement MORE held a net neutrality roundtable on Monday at a digital marketing company based in her home state of Washington. On Twitter, she said she discussed "the importance of #OpenInternet & protecting #NetNeutrality" at the headquarters of Moz, a digital marketing company started in 2004. Cantwell said she will use the feedback during the Wednesday Commerce Committee hearing.

Phoenix Center white paper criticizes municipal broadband rhetoric: Not everyone loves municipal broadband services as much as Obama. The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies is preparing to release a white paper on Tuesday that criticizes how some officials have held up Chattanooga, Tenn., as a poster child for the idea. "Whatever one thinks about the Chattanooga system (and it is certainly an interesting case) it is not an archetype for widespread municipal fiber buildouts," chief economist George Ford wrote.  

AT&T wants to revive data roaming fight: AT&T filed an application late on Friday urging the FCC to reconsider its December judgment in a fight over data roaming charges. In December, the FCC agreed with T-Mobile that the country’s two biggest wireless companies — AT&T and Verizon — were charging unfair prices to their competitors.

On Friday, AT&T accused T-Mobile of making a "nakedly self-interested plea" to the FCC, and said that the commission’s response has thrown its "entire data roaming regime into confusion."

"The result is a completely standardless approach to case-by-case adjudication that eliminates any ability to predict how the Commission might rule in any given complaint proceeding," AT&T said.

Poll finds priority for security over privacy: Twice as many people believe it is more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats than to protect personal privacy, according to a Washington Post poll released over the weekend.

Sixty-three percent said it is more important to investigate possible terrorists threats — a 6 percentage point increase since 2013, after the Edward Snowden leaks about National Security Agency surveillance. Another 32 percent said it is more important for the government not to intrude on individuals' personal privacy. Other polls recently have recorded a similar trend as time passes since the first Snowden leaks.

CCIA gets help on tax filings reform: The Computer and Communications Industry Association has brought on RedFive strategies to lobby on measures to change the way Americans’ file their taxes. The trade group has warned against any major reforms to simplify the tax filing process that would have the government replace private software companies.

Lyft is on the lookout for a new lobbyist: Lyft is hiring a new in-house lobbyist to expand its reach in Washington. The ride-sharing company recently posted an ad looking for a new federal government relations manager to help develop and put into place "comprehensive federal government relations strategies to advance Lyft's long term business interests." 



The Small UAV Coalition is hosting a tech fair on drones at the National Press Club starting at 9 a.m.

At 2:30, the Senate Commerce Committee is holding an organizational meeting to go over its rules, subcommittee memberships and other issues.

The State of the Union is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Tuesday.



Emails from journalists at The New York Times, the BBC, NBC and other major media outlets were reportedly collected and saved by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British spy agency.

Silicon Valley could be a kingmaker in California’s 2016 Senate race. 

A member of the small task force aiming to make the federal government more tech-savvy will be one of the handful of guests to watch the State of the Union address alongside first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaTrump to meet with Prince Harry during UK visit Michelle Obama to headline Essence Festival Obama shares tribute to Michelle to celebrate Mother's Day MORE on Tuesday.

A Republican member of the FCC is renewing his call for more transparency ahead of open meetings at the agency.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta joined the board of directors for the California-based technology company Oracle.


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