OVERNIGHT TECH: Surveillance fight takes new twist

THE LEDE: House lawmakers are eyeing new plans to continue the fight over expansive government surveillance programs.

On Tuesday, Reps. Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeSheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R-Texas) and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenState and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November FEC commissioner resigns, leaving agency without a quorum again OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change MORE (D-Calif.) are planning to reintroduce a standalone bill that mirrors their amendment to the USA Freedom Act, which would have expanded the National Security Agency (NSA) reform bill to cover additional legal authorities. The measure is expected to tackle Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act -- which the NSA has relied on for its "Upstream" and "PRISM" data collection schemes  -- as well as ban the government from forcing tech companies to include "backdoors" into their products. That's similar to a measure that overwhelmingly passed the House last year, when it was added to a defense spending bill.


Additionally, unlike the USA Freedom Act amendment, the new legislation will also set its sights on Executive Order 12333, a document dating back to the Reagan administration that has been cited as the basis for much of the NSA's activities.  

The amendment failed to be included in the USA Freedom Act last week, but not because of its content. Instead, Judiciary Committee leaders convinced lawmakers to block the measure -- like all other proposed amendments to the bill -- to avoid undermining the carefully crafted legislative language. At the time, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said that his panel would "soon" hold a hearing on the powers of the NSA under Section 702.

SENATORS DISLIKE FCC RULES ON TV OWNERSHIP: A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Monday that would prohibit new FCC rules on TV ownership from applying retroactively. The FCC already had rules in place that bar companies from owning multiple TV stations in small or medium sized markets. In March of last year, the agency ruled that ownership would be triggered if one company controlled at least 15 percent of another station's advertising, which is common but will now go against FCC rules. Stations have two years to comply, but lawmakers led by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have said the joint sales agreements helped save many stations. 

NAB ENDORSES LEGISLATION: "It is sheer folly for the FCC to ban two TV stations in cities as small as Wichita from sharing services that can help preserve and enhance localism," the National Association of Broadcasters said in a statement. "Broadcasters look forward to working closely with these congressional leaders to advance legislation that will help free and local broadcasters remain competitive."

FCC MAKES IT 911, NOT 9-911: The Federal Communications Commission is updating its phone system to allow anyone at its headquarters to reach an emergency line by dialing 911, without first having to dial "9" to get an outside line. The update should take effect in June. The agency has released a number of rules dealing with 911 access recently, but GOP commissioner Ajit Pai and some members of Congress had pressed the agency to lead by example on the issue. 

"We hope that others in the federal government as well as state and local governments will follow this example," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Pai said in a joint statement. 

FED PICKS ITS H-1B RECIPIENTS: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it had finished selecting the tens of thousands of people who will be selected to receive this year's H-1B high-skilled visas. Those selected were picked by a computer-generated randomizer because the huge volume of applicants received in just the first week exceeded the yearly cap. It will begin notifying people who were not selected but was uncertain how long the process would take. Some lawmakers have called to increase the yearly cap, but the political makeup of Congress makes that unlikely.  

ITIF WANTS AN ANTI-SLAPP LAW: The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has a new report out detailing the need for legislation to limit strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP), which critics say stifle speech on the Internet. The term refers to lawsuits which seek to block critical review of businesses or service providers online.

"By discouraging participation in matters of public interest, including government proceedings, SLAPPs can deter people from exercising free speech and the right to petition, both of which are protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the think tank said. While multiple states have passed legislation limiting the lawsuits, the federal government has not acted on the issue. 

NJ PROVIDER HIT WITH $100,000 FINE: The FCC is charging New Jersey prepaid calling card provider Simple Network $100,000 for failing to register with the Universal Service Administrative Company. By failing to register, the company avoided paying fees under the Universal Service Fund and other government programs, the FCC said. 

SPRINT HEAD JOINS MY BROTHER'S KEEPER ALLIANCE BOARD: Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has joined the board of directors of the My Brother's Keeper Alliance supported by President Obama. The company is also pledging $2 million in support and another $3 million of in-kind donations to expand broadband service to schools.   


At 2 p.m., the Brookings Institution is holding a discussion on spectrum sharing and the FCC. 


Saturday night's heavily hyped boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao may have served as a coming out party for live-streaming service Periscope, but the company claims it was quick to clamp down on piracy.

The Department of Homeland Security is scaling back its request to hire an outside company to keep track of people's license plates, now saying it only needs half the country.

One of the godfathers of the Internet has harsh words for federal efforts to insert "back doors" in digital security systems.  

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday tipped his hand on who he believes will be the next president: Hillary Clinton.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg argued against an "extreme definition" of net neutrality on Monday while announcing the expansion of a program to bring basic Internet service to people around the world. 


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