Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: GOP split on net neutrality strategy | Trump’s phone worries Dems | Bill in the works on self-driving cars


NET NEUTRALITY: Republicans in Congress and at the FCC may have to make some tough decisions soon on how to tackle the Obama administration’s landmark net neutrality rules.

At this early stage, it’s unclear whether Republicans and Democrats in Congress will work out a legislative solution to the battle over the net neutrality rules that went into effect in 2015.

Both sides have interests in putting a compromise into law. Some Republicans worry that actions FCC Chairman Ajit Pai could take to roll back the rules could just be reversed under a future Democratic administration.

And Democrats may want to shore up the net neutrality principles in the meantime against a broader rollback.

But a compromise is already proving to be a hard sell in some quarters. Democrats came out last week vowing to combat any attempts to pare back net neutrality, which prohibits internet service providers from slowing or blocking internet traffic to certain sites.

In the House last week, the chairwoman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Information and Technology, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), said that instead of pursuing a legislative fix, she will wait and see what the FCC does first.

But Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune’s (R-S.D.) is taking a different approach.

“Sen. Thune is open to immediately working with his colleagues on legislation if there is a serious readiness on the other side of the aisle to come to the table,” Commerce Committee spokesman Frederick Hill told Morning Consult in a statement on Monday.

PAI’S FAST START: Meanwhile at the FCC, new Chairman Ajit Pai is moving quickly to make his mark with a slew of reforms to how the agency operates and by taking aim at a number of programs that were pushed by his Democratic predecessor.

He has retracted several FCC reports, including one on a program that brings internet access to schools and libraries. Pai has also prompted criticism from Democrats for revoking the participation of nine service providers from Lifeline, a program that gives subsidies for internet access to low-income families.

Though he’s hit the ground running since being named chairman, Pai has yet to reveal how he’s going to handle going after the net neutrality rules, which he has criticized for reclassifying internet service providers to treat broadband as a public utility.

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LEGISLATION ON SELF-DRIVING CARS: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) announced a joint, bipartisan effort on Monday to “explore legislation that clears hurdles and advances innovation in self-driving vehicle technology.” In their statement, the senators said that they would address patchwork of laws and regulations affecting autonomous cars and look more deeply into safety regulations. Thune and Peters noted that while they “don’t have a specific timetable for producing legislation, we aim to propose a joint bill this year.”

TRUMP’S SMARTPHONE IS WORRYING DEMS: A pair of Senate Democrats voiced concerns about reports that President Trump is using an unsecured personal smartphone, arguing it’s a security risk. Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Tom Carper (Del.) released a letter on Monday to Defense Secretary James Mattis asking for details on the president’s phone. “The national security risks of compromising a smartphone used by a senior government official, such as the President of the United States, are considerable,” they wrote in the letter.

Read more here.

VERIZON ROLLS OUT UNLIMITED DATA PLAN: Verizon is getting back into the unlimited data game with a new plan that was announced Sunday. Customers can now pay $80 a month for all the data they want on one line, or $45 per line on family plans. AT&T may now be feeling the pressure to roll out their own unlimited data plan, which they currently only offer to subscribers of their video services.

APPLE’S STOCK AT ALL-TIME HIGH: Shares of Apple hit an at all time high today. The company, which was valued as low as $89.47 a share over the past year, closed at $133.29 a share. Its current market capitalization is $697.73 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook has popped up in political news recently. At the end of July, the Apple CEO had Capitol Hill meetings with lawmakers including Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va.). During his D.C. trip he also dined with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

IBM CHIEF DEFENDS ADVISING TRUMP: The head of IBM is defending her role on President Trump’s business advisory council. In an internal letter to employees, CEO Ginni Rometty stressed that IBM “does not espouse a partisan or political point of view.”

“Some have suggested that we should not engage with the U.S. administration. I disagree,” Rometty wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill and first reported on by TechCrunch, which was distributed shortly after a meeting with Trump earlier this month.

Read more here.


The House Commerce panel on digital commerce and consumer protection holds a hearing on self-driving cars at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners holds a meeting on telecommunications at 10:45 a.m.

The Federal Trade Commission will participate in a Twitter forum on online safety for children at 2 p.m.


Busy watching the KD, Russell Westbrook drama play out this weekend? Here’s what you missed in tech.

Activism against Donald Trump is bubbling at “old guard,” technology companies, reports the New York Times

Senators plot bipartisan bill on self-driving cars

Apple CEO calls for ‘massive campaign’ to battle fake news

Oracle reopens legal battle with Google

FCC faces doubleheader of Hill hearings

Lawfare has the latest draft of Trump’s forthcoming executive order on cybersecurity.

Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is still staunchly defending net neutrality rules, reports Axios.

Tags Claire McCaskill Donald Trump John Thune Mark Warner Marsha Blackburn Orrin Hatch Rob Portman Tom Carper

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