Overnight Technology

OVERNIGHT TECH: Tech will be watching cyber vote

THE LEDE: The tech industry is going to be keeping watch on the House as it takes up two cybersecurity bills this week.   

The Information Technology Industry Council — the only industry lobbying arm that keeps tabs on lawmakers’ votes for an annual voter guide — told House legislators on Tuesday that it will score their votes on the upcoming Protecting Cyber Networks Act and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act. The trade group supports both bills, and said in a letter to House leaders that promoting the sharing of threat information “is an important step Congress can take to enable all stakeholders to address threats, stem losses, and shield their systems, partners and customers.”

{mosads}BSA | The Software Alliance added to the pressure on lawmakers to pass the cyber bills, which would allow companies to better share information about possible threats. “Enactment of legislation that will foster more voluntary collaboration of cyber threat information while ensuring that privacy is protected is a priority for our members and the software industry at large,” the group wrote in a Tuesday letter.

The two bills are scheduled for consideration in the House on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and both are expected to pass. However, some complaints have been raised by privacy advocates who worry that the legislation would actually shuttle large amounts of personal information to the National Security Agency.

The bill up for a vote on Wednesday — the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, which came out of the Intelligence Committee — “seriously threatens privacy and civil liberties, and would undermine cybersecurity, rather than enhance it,” groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute wrote to lawmakers on Monday.

Still, the business advocacy in support of the efforts is robust, and it’s not just from the tech sector. The National Association of Manufacturers also sent lawmakers a letter on Tuesday noting that it would score the vote. “Manufacturers understand that our nation’s economic security is directly tied to cybersecurity,” the group wrote.

INCENTIVE AUCTION ESTIMATED TO HAUL $10 TO $40B: The Congressional Budget Office predicted that the FCC’s incentive auction scheduled for next year will net the government between $10 billion and $40 billion. The expected value, or middle range, was predicted at $25 billion, which will go to the general Treasury fund to reduce the deficit. In the first-of-its-kind auction, the FCC will buy up spectrum from broadcasters and resell it to mobile service providers. An auction last year in which the FCC sold off government airwaves brought in $43 billion, far exceeding expectations as demand grows with the ubiquity of mobile devices.

PAUL SIGNS ON TO ‘AARON’S LAW:’ Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) attracted a high-profile cosponsor to his bill to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA): Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Wyden and his counterpart in the House, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), reintroduced “Aaron’s Law” on Tuesday, which is meant to rein in “overzealous” prosecutors from using the anti-hacking law to go after innocuous infractions like violating a website’s terms of service.

Critics have cited the charges against activist Aaron Swartz, who subsequently killed himself, to highlight this point. The lawmakers introduced the bill in the last Congress. But this year it has gained the support of Paul, who is a contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, as well as four House cosponsors.

AS MUSIC LICENSING TURNS UP, SPOTIFY TUNES IN TO LOBBYING: Spotify USA hired four different firms to lobby for it in Washington back in March, according to new disclosure reports. The Swedish music streaming service has inked deals with Baker & Hostetler LLP, Forbes-Tate, Peck Madigan Jones and the Gibson Group, ahead of what could be a tumultuous time for music licensing issues on Capitol Hill. All the firms have indicated that they will focus on copyright, licensing and intellectual property issues.

Last week, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced legislation that would change the way Spotify pays musicians by declaring that it and other streaming Internet radio companies pay musicians for songs recorded before 1972 — a legal quirk that is under debate and currently making its way through the courts. The bill would also force broadcast radio companies to pay performance royalties to musicians.

ANOTHER PATENT LETTER BILL: Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) reintroduced their bill to increase disclosure requirements in patent demand letters and create a publicly available demand letter database to discourage duplicative, abusive letters. Groups like Dish, Engine, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge have endorsed the bill. It is separate from a bill scheduled for a markup Wednesday that would give the Federal Trade Commission more authority to go after companies that send abusive demand letters.

TWITTER TAKES ANOTHER STEP TO THWART ABUSE: Twitter is developing a new system to help the social media company automatically identify potentially abusive tweets and limit their reach. The new feature which will factor in the age of the account sending the tweet and its similarity to past abusive tweets was announced in a blog outlining a tweak to its violent threat policy. The new policy will allow Twitter to prohibit threats of violence or other messages promoting violence. The old policy required a narrow “direct, specific threat of violence” in order for the company to take action.

EBAY MERCHANTS HIT THE HILL: More than 20 small businesses that sell on eBay are coming to Washington to lobby Capitol Hill this week. Representatives for the online shopping haven have more than 70 meetings lined up and are aiming to press lawmakers and staffers on online sales tax issues and reducing barriers to global trade.



A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will mark up legislation on patent demand letters at noon.



Jeb Bush, a likely presidential contender, said Tuesday that President Obama’s greatest accomplishment was keeping in place controversial spying programs at the National Security Agency.

A key Republican senator isn’t ready to endorse a House plan that would reauthorize expiring portions of the Patriot Act while curbing the government’s surveillance powers.

Google racked up a nearly $5.5 million lobbying tab in the first three months of the new Congress, its largest lobbying quarter to date.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday released three draft bills aimed at making the Federal Communications Commission more transparent

A majority of millennials both in the U.S. and around the globe who have heard about Edward Snowden say they have a positive opinion of the government leaker.


Please send tips and comments to Julian Hattem, jhattem@thehill.com  and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @HilliconValley@jmhattem


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