OVERNIGHT TECH: FCC's low-income broadband plan under scrutiny

LEDE: The FCC's Lifeline program will get its share of Congressional scrutiny Tuesday -- less than a week after Chairman Tom Wheeler announced plans to expand it to provide broadband subsidies to low-income Americans.

Tuesday morning, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet will hold a hearing on the program. It is sure to feature tough questions from Republicans, who view it as a poorly managed effort and have criticized abuse in the past.

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Critics point to a recent GAO audit that found gaps in the way that the commission evaluated the program's effectiveness. Senate Commerce Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTelehealth is calling — will Congress pick up? GOP grows tired of being blindsided by Trump Hillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks 'not my thing' | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet MORE (R-S.D.) has argued against any expansion until better evaluations take place.

Supporters have sought to silence the criticism by suggesting their own accountability measures. Wheeler's proposal calls for providers to keep data on recipients for 10 years and will consider whether the budget for the whole program should be capped.

A group of Democratic lawmakers announced a bill on Monday that is designed to support the FCC's proposal. It would order the FCC to keep a "national database" to prevent people from receiving a Lifeline subsidy twice and mandate another GAO audit.

AT&T WEIGHS IN: In a blog post, AT&T said that any reform to Lifeline should shift the burden of determining who is eligible from carriers to the government -- something the FCC proposal includes -- and said it agreed with the agency's decision to expand the program to include broadband. The company said that any reforms to the program should be done within the confines of its current budget.

TECH COMPANIES AWARDED FOR HELPING THOSE WITH DISABILITIES: Google, Comcast and AT&T were all the recipients of awards handed out by the Federal Communications Commission on Monday that judge technology innovations to help people with disabilities. Seven categories are judged including "Augmented Reality, CAPTCHA Alternatives, Internet of Things, Real-Time Text, Teleconferencing, Video Description and Miscellaneous." A full list of winners and their products are listed here.

PATENT MARKUP THURSDAY: The Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up its legislation to rein in so-called patent trolls on Thursday. Recent debate has surrounded potential changes to the post grant and inter partes review processes at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Sens. John CornynJohn Cornyn Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Trump struggles to reshape Fed Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks MORE (R-Texas) and Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (D-N.Y.), who helped draft the legislation, are soliciting questions on Twitter for a discussion on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. about patent reform using the hashtag #PatentHangout.

OVERSIGHT TO START FOIA DOUBLE HEADER: The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday will kick off a double header of hearings focusing on the government's shortcomings in complying with open records laws. Nearly a dozen witnesses will testify at Tuesday's hearing, including a number of reporters as well as open government groups. Those include journalists from Vice News and Newsweek, as well as the general counsel of The New York Times. For the past few weeks, the committee has been surveying outside groups and journalists about their Freedom of Information Act horror stories.  

AGENCIES PUSHED FOIA AMENDMENTS: E&E Publishing obtained emails between congressional staff and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in which the agency located within the Treasury Department raised concerns about a Freedom of Information Act reform bill working its way through Congress. Agencies have remained publicly silent but the emails show private recommendations for changes, which were ultimately not adopted in committee.

FSR GETS NEW PRESIDENT OF TECH DIVISION: The Financial Services Roundtable hired Chris Feeney to lead its advocacy division that focuses on cyber and emerging technologies, which is named BITS. Fennel was previously the chief information officer of LPL Financial. He heads his own consulting firm and has advised a number of financial institutions. He replaces Paul Smocer who recently retired.

GOOGLE SAYS IT'S SEEING 'POSITIVE TRENDS' ON DIVERSITY: Nancy Lee, Google's vice president of people operations, said that the company was making headway on diversifying its workforce -- despite new numbers that show that diversity at the company hasn't changed much since last year. "I think we are getting better and we are hoping that ultimately we are able to accelerate the improvement," Lee told USA Today.

 

ON TAP:  

At 8 a.m., Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying The Hill's Morning Report — Category 5 Mueller storm to hit today GOP senators double down on demand for Clinton email probe documents MORE (R-Wis.) will headline a National Journal discussion on high-skilled immigration.

At 9:30 a.m., the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the FCC's program to bring phone service to people with low incomes.

At 10:30 a.m., the Senate could vote to advance the USA Freedom Act.

At noon, the Center for Democracy and Technology hosts Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) at an event discussing student privacy.

At 2 p.m., the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the government's compliance with FOIA laws.

At 5 p.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee will give opening remarks for a full committee markup on a series of FCC process reform bills.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for making violent threats on Facebook.

Facebook is the most common source of political news for millennials, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

Google debuted new privacy tools, part of an ongoing effort to convince consumers that their data is safe with the Web giant.

BlackBerry announced a settlement that would prohibit Typo -- a Ryan Seacrest-backed company that produces smartphone keyboards -- from selling them anywhere in the world.

And the top Google search about former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) following his presidential announcement was "Who is Martin O'Malley?", according to data analyzed by CNN.

 

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