Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Email privacy bill delayed | Feds give OK to internet transition plan | Groups complain over cable-box data

LEDE: Another day, another delay for the Senate’s email privacy bill.

The upper chamber sponsors of the bill, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), asked that it be pulled from the Judiciary Committee’s agenda on Thursday. This came after its markup was already delayed by a week and could signal a tough path ahead for the bill. Similar legislation passed the House unanimously.

{mosads}The sticking point is an amendment from Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would expand the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ability to use National Security Letters to obtain information from tech companies without a warrant. And Lee indicated on Thursday that he was unlikely to back off his opposition to that measure.

“Unfortunately, some Senators on the committee have decided late in the day that this bill should be a vehicle to move an unrelated and controversial expansion of the use of national security letters by the FBI,” said Lee in a statement. “Such an expansion would swallow up the protections this bill offers to the American people. While there are other concerns we had hoped to negotiate, the national security letter amendment is something I cannot in good conscience have attached to this bill.”

“I think if we can get back to the bipartisan it passes,” Leahy said, as he walked from the Senate subways to an elevator. He stayed quiet when asked how hopeful he was for that outcome.

Technology companies have been very supportive of the bill and have warned against the amendments. Google and Facebook were among the signatories of a letter saying they would oppose legislation with the Cornyn amendment in it.

COMMERCE GIVES ICANN A THUMBS UP: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration gave its approval for a proposal to transition away from a United States-controlled domain name system.

PRITZKER HAILS ‘IMPORTANT MILESTONE’: “Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in the U.S. government’s 18-year effort to privatize the Internet’s domain name system,” Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a statement. “This transition ensures that the Internet continues to flourish as a platform for innovation, economic growth and free expression. I want to thank the Internet’s diverse multistakeholder community, which includes businesses, technical experts, and civil society groups, for their dedication and hard work.” Read more here.

TED CRUZ ISN’T SO HAPPY: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is (surprise!) less-than-pleased with the advancement of what he says is an attempt to give away control of the internet to foreign governments. “Today’s announcement by the Obama administration is a clear indication that it has flagrantly violated federal law,” said Cruz, along with several other congressional opponents, in a statement. “This is the latest step in a troubling series of steps that the administration has taken to relinquish its responsibilities, and it should send a concerning message to every American.” Cruz has introduced legislation to give Congress a greater say in the transition.

BUT WALDEN MUM ON MOVING HIS BILL: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the tech subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce, was non-committal when asked whether he would move a House version of Cruz’s bill giving Congress more authority over the transition. “I haven’t discussed it with the staff yet and we’ve made no decisions,” he said as he came off the House floor.

PUBLIC INTEREST GROUP URGES FCC CRACKDOWN ON CABLE: Advocacy group Public Knowledge filed a complaint on Thursday against Comcast, AT&T and Cablevision urging the FCC to implement its cable privacy rules against the providers. Multichannel News reports here.

AT&T CALLS SHENANIGANS: “AT&T’s use of anonymous and aggregate set-top box information is entirely consistent with the statute,” said Jim Cicconi, the company’s senior executive vice president, in a statement. “Our disclosures tell our customers exactly how we use that data and provide tools for customers to opt out. Frankly, this complaint is bogus, and seems mainly designed to distract the public from the overwhelming bipartisan opposition to the FCC’s controversial set-top box plan.”

UBER FINED IN FRANCE: A French court slapped Uber with a more than $907,000 fine on Thursday for breaking taxi rules in the country. Two executives, whose trial has attracted significant media attention, also have to pay smaller fines. All involved will appeal. The case concerns the low-cost UberPOP service, which has prompted outrage among taxi drivers in the country. Reuters has more.

TOM PERKINS IS DEAD AT 84: Thomas J. Perkins, who helped to found the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, died of natural causes on Thursday, according to The New York Times. He pioneered his field but was later associated with a comment likening the “demonization” of wealthy people with the Nazi persecution of Jewish people.



President Obama’s pick to lead the Library of Congress cleared a key committee on Thursday.

A Senate panel will investigate issues related to television providers’ customer service and billing practices at a June hearing where lawmakers will hear from companies including Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Tens of millions of Twitter passwords are being traded on the dark web, according to the hacked information database Leaked Source.

The Department of Commerce gave its approval Thursday to a hotly debated plan to transition away from United States control of the domain name system.

A closely watched email privacy bill is struggling in the Senate and could be at risk of stalling, despite unanimous passage in the House.


Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.com and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @dmccabe@_mariotrujillo@HilliconValley

Tags John Cornyn Mike Lee Patrick Leahy Penny Pritzker Ted Cruz

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