Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Heavyweights back internet handover | Lawmakers not sold on new set-top box plan | Airbnb chief gets boost from John Kerry

LEDE: Twenty-seven signatories, including tech giants Amazon, Google, and Facebook, signed a letter obtained by The Hill, addressed to Senate and House leaders in support of the planned Internet Assigned Numbers Authority transition from U.S. management to an international governing body.

In the letter to be sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev), the tech multinationals and other advocacy groups said that the stewardship of U.S. internet domain management to a multi-stakeholder model will “best serve U.S. interests.”

{mosads}The letter also noted that there were provisions for accountability in place, something that critics of the transition have noted as an issue. “Crucial safeguards are in place to protect human rights, including the freedom of speech,” the letter said.

“The Internet’s addressing system helps keep the Internet global, scalable and interoperable,” the letter continued. “It is imperative that Congress does not take action to delay the October 1st transition date. The Internet is defined by its inclusivity and openness.”

Last week, Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Bob Goodlatte wrote a letter calling for the White House to reconsider the transition because “important accountability measures have yet to be fully fleshed out, tested, or proven.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will hold a hearing on the transition on Wednesday. Cruz has made his vehement opposition to the bill explicit, speaking against it in the Senate last week and rolling out media and legislation against the transition.


Please send your tips, comments and stray observations to David McCabe (dmccabe@thehill.com) and Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @dmccabe@alibreland and @HilliconValley.


MEANWHILE, ELSEWHERE ON THE HILL: The lawmaker backlash to Tom Wheeler’s new set-top box proposal is picking up. House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) came out with a statement saying that though he applauds “Chairman Wheeler for working to solve this difficult issue, I’m concerned that this latest proposal will not work, particularly when it comes to licensing. Ultimately, I’m skeptical that the revised plan will benefit consumers.”

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who is running to take over the committee’s gavel, was just as critical. “Not only is FCC’s latest set top box proposal a solution in search of a problem, it goes far beyond the Commission’s statutory authority under the Communications Act,” he said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler needs to realize that government regulations and mandates don’t produce more innovation and competition.” They’re both echoing industry’s primary complaint about the plan: that the proposal to give the FCC authority over the license between device makers and pay-television providers is a massive, illegal overreach. Instead, they’ve pushed for an app-based approach to improve access.

COMMISSION SAYS IT’S STILL DOING OUTREACH: “We continue to have productive conversations with all stakeholders about Chairman Wheeler’s apps-based proposal to ensure consumers have the options they deserve — and that Congress mandated — to access the programming they already pay for,” said the FCC’s Kim Hart in an emailed statement.

CONSUMER GROUP PUSHES BACK ON PALLONE: “Congressman Pallone’s skepticism about the FCC’s revised set-top box proposal could unfortunately cost consumers tens of billions of dollars in inflated cable charges,” said Gene Kimmelman, the president of Public Knowledge, in a statement.” We believe consumers will get the benefit of lower prices, more choices, and more innovation with the FCC’s plan and urge Congressman Pallone to re-evaluate his stance on this important consumer pocketbook issue.”

RURAL CALLS: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology gave opening statements for their markups of H.R. 2566, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act and H.R. 2669, the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2015. Tomorrow morning, lawmakers will follow up their statements with the actual markup. Advocates for H.R. 2566 cite concerns that rural residents do not have the same call quality or consistency as much of the country. “For those living in rural areas in Southwest Michigan and across the country, this connection isn’t always guaranteed,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in a hearing last week. “It’s time we set higher standards for the integrity of our networks, but more importantly, for the benefit of our constituents.”

AIRBNB GETS BOOST FROM JOHN KERRY: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky — dressed for D.C. in a dark suit, white shirt and a blue tie with teal dots — went to Foggy Bottom on Monday to be saluted by Secretary of State John Kerry. Earlier this year, the home-sharing company donated to a program that helps pay for study abroad programs. Their gift focused on China. “You want to pick an entrepreneur with an entrepreneurial golden touch, here he is,” said Kerry of the co-founder, who joked about the prospect of putting his home up for rent on the platform.

“HAMILTON” PRODUCER TAKES THE HILL: Jeffrey Seller, the producer of Broadway smash “Hamilton,” will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow to talk about bots. More specifically, bots that buy up tickets to live events for resale. He’ll be joining other witnesses in front of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security subcommittee for a hearing about a bill that would allow the Federal Trade Commission to punish people who use the software. Other witnesses include representatives from Pandora, StubHub and the Big 12 athletic conference.



At 2:30 p.m., the Senate Commerce Committee holds a subcommittee hearing on the Better Online Ticket Sales Act.

At 10:00 a.m., in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will reconvene to mark up H.R. 2566, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act and and H.R. 2669, the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2015.



LinkedIn’s co-founder is willing to pony up a pretty penny if Donald Trump releases his tax returns.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to the PM of Norway that Facebook had learned its lesson in regards to the controversy it faced last week in censoring a Pulitzer Prize winning photo.

The emergence of ride-hailing and ride-sharing apps forced Ford Motor Co. to rethink its entire business model, according to its chief executive officer.

Opponents of the Federal Communications Commission’s set-top box market reforms are putting more pressure on Democratic Commission Jessica Rosenworcel, seen as the swing vote on the hotly-contested item.

A federal judge in Texas has ruled that hacking someone’s computer counts as a search, meaning police must get a warrant to hack into someone’s computer.

Tesla Motors unveiled updates to its Autopilot feature after the semi-autonomous technology was involved in a fatal crash earlier this year.

Airbnb is enlisting some of the nation’s most prestigious civil rights groups in its effort to defuse a crisis over allegations of racial discrimination on its platform.

Tags Bob Goodlatte Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Harry Reid John Kerry John Thune Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Ted Cruz

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