Overnight Technology

OVERNIGHT TECH: Funding bill takes aim at net neutrality

LEDE: House appropriators will take up a measure Wednesday to bar the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing its net neutrality rules until a court battle is settled. 

The House Appropriations Committee will consider the provision as part of a much broader Financial Service and General Government appropriations bill that includes funding for multiple agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and others.

The bill also proposes allotting $73 million less than what the FCC requested for fiscal 2016. As another transparency measure, it would require the agency to publicly post proposed rules 21 days before any future vote — a point of contention during the net neutrality debate. 

{mosads}The provisions would likely make the bill unpalatable for Democrats and President Obama, who pressed for the strong Internet regulations that took effect Friday. More than 60 advocates sent a letter Wednesday to lawmakers on the committee urging them to remove the provision blocking net neutrality rules. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week declined to delay the rules until the broader court battle is settled. Public Knowledge, which supports the rules, said the initial victory last week would dissuade Democrats from striking any legislative deal. “This could either prompt Republicans to sweeten their offer, or double down on efforts for total repeal,” wrote Harold Feld, senior vice president for the group.

DOTCOM ACT GETS FULL HOUSE E&C VOTE: Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote Wednesday on a bill to give Congress more authority over the Obama administration’s plan to divorce domain-registrant ICANN from the Department of Commerce. The bill has bipartisan support. Under the transition, ICANN will drop its contract with Commerce and instead report to a variety of international entities.

“The Internet has come a long way from its days as a government research network and the concrete steps toward privatization have made it stronger,” Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in his prepared opening statement. “As we look toward taking another step in that process – removing the U.S. government from its oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority – we must look before we leap.”

ON INTERNET TAX BILLS, WYDEN WARNS AGAINST ‘LEGISLATIVE MALPRACTICE’: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said it is “past time for the Senate to follow the House’s lead” and pass a bill that would make permanent a law that bars state and local taxes on Internet access. But Wyden warned it would be “legislative malpractice” to tie the non-controversial extension to another proposal — like the one recently introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah — that would give states greater authority to collect sales tax from online sellers. 

CRITICS KNOCK COLLEAGUES FOR PATENT REFORM SUPPORT:  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) held a brief press conference Tuesday to express their opposition to the House’s patent reform bill that overwhelmingly passed the Judiciary Committee last week. Rohrabacher accused Republican and Democratic leadership of being inappropriately influenced by major companies pushing the bill. He said most members have given their support because they don’t know enough about the issue. A version of the bill passed with 325 votes last Congress. 

“That’s what our greatest enemy has been — that the average member out here, their eyes glaze over when you start talking about patents and they tend to simply trust their leadership. And what we have is a leadership in the House, whether it was Republican or Democratic, impacted by undue influence by mega-multinational corporations who do not care at all about the rights of individual inventors much less care about the well-being of the United States of America.”

ROBOCALL RULING COULD BE BOON FOR TRIAL LAWYERS: Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai warned that the agency’s proposed crackdown on robocalls is going to be a boon for trial lawyers. Pai specifically highlighted the agency’s plan to expand the definition autodialers, which are barred from calling cellphones unless a customer gives consent. He also warned of a provision that would bar companies from making multiple calls to a phone number that was recently reassigned. “The coming wave of litigation will serve no one but lawyers,” Pai said in a Daily Caller op-ed

Adonis Hoffman, the former Chief of Staff for Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn, offered a similar warning in the Wall Street Journal.

TWITTER CEO SEARCH IS LEGIT, OUTGOING CHIEF SAYS: Outgoing Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo at a tech conference Tuesday said that the social network’s board is “legitimately” doing a search for his replacement. Some have suggested that Jack Dorsey, the company’s co-founder who is stepping in for Costolo temporarily, might be angling to stick around on a permanent basis.


At 8:30 a.m., Microsoft will hold a discussion on fighting consumer tech scams. 

At 9 a.m., the Progressive Policy Institute hosts FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for an event entitled “The Tech Jobs Boom and Diversity: A Good News, Bad News Story.”

At 10 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will mark up a series of bills, including the Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act. 

At 10 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee will finish marking up the Dotcom Act. 

At 11 a.m., The House Appropriations Committee will mark up the Financial Service and General Government Appropriations bill. 


Four senators are pressing PayPal over a new user agreement that requires customers to automatically opt-in to robocalls when signing up for an account. 

Employees of the St. Louis Cardinals are under federal investigation for hacking databases belonging to the Houston Astros, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) wasted little time Tuesday before tearing into leaders of the Office of Personnel Management over a massive hack of the federal government.

A group of privacy advocates have walked away from administration-backed talks to develop a code of conduct for facial recognition software.


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Tags House Appropriations Committee Jason Chaffetz Net neutrality Ron Wyden

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