Overnight Tech: Senate panel approves FCC nominees | Dem group invests in progressive startups | Tech groups rip Trump immigration plan

Overnight Tech: Senate panel approves FCC nominees | Dem group invests in progressive startups | Tech groups rip Trump immigration plan
© Keren Carrion

SENATE PANEL APPROVES FCC NOMINEES: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is one step closer to being fully staffed.

During a hearing on Wednesday, members of the Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve the confirmations of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr to the FCC panel of Commissioners. Current Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's reconfirmation to the FCC was also approved by lawmakers.

The trio's confirmation will proceed to a Senate-wide vote, requiring a simple majority for approval. If it passes, the Commission will be at full quorum, going from two Republicans and one Democrat to three Republicans and two Democrats.

Despite advancing, Democrats contested Pai and Carr's confirmations. Some Democrats, including the ranking member on the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), voted against Pai's renomination.


Democrats voted along party lines against Carr's nomination, saying that while they had no issue with Carr being nominated to his first year-and-a-half term, they did not yet want to agree to approving a second five-year term.

The Commerce Committee's ranking member, Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonChina fires back after NASA criticism of rocket debris reentry The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns NASA criticizes China after rocket debris lands in Indian Ocean MORE (D-Fla.) noted Senate leaders of both parties were negotiating a deal for a final vote on the confirmations. According to Nelson, the agreement would only include approval of Carr's first year-and-a-half term.

Read more here.


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TECH STEPS UP CAMPAIGN AGAINST SEX TRAFFICKING BILL: Internet companies are stepping up their opposition to a Senate sex trafficking bill they believe could make websites liable for what their users publish online.

A coalition of tech trade associations sent a letter on Wednesday to Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border MORE (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations, sharing their concerns.

"Rather than target criminals, including traffickers and buyers of victims, the proposed legislation would have a devastating impact on legitimate online services without having a meaningful impact on ending trafficking crimes," the letter reads.

Read more here.


DEM GROUP INVESTS NEARLY $1.5M IN PROGRESSIVE TECH STARTUPS: A group run by ex-aides of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 Obama shares video of him visiting Maryland vaccination site GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump MORE that focuses on technology for Democratic campaigns announced on Wednesday that 10 startup firms would share in its initial $1.5 million investment round.

"For too long, progressives have counted on Presidential campaigns to incubate and build campaign technology- a strategy that isn't optimal when conservatives like the Koch brothers and the Mercers are pumping big money into permanent GOP campaign technology companies," Ronald Klain, the chairman of Higher Ground Labs's (HGL) advisory board, said in a statement. Klain is a former Obama aide who also served as chief of staff for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE.

"We need to close this 'progressive tech gap' and Higher Ground Labs is giving these ten promising young companies a jumpstart to have impact in 2018 and beyond."

Read more here.


UK HOME SECRETARY SAYS PEOPLE DON'T CARE ABOUT ENCRYPTION: United Kingdom Home Secretary Amber Rudd claimed "real people" do not consider security to be a selling point when picking smartphone chat applications.

"Who uses WhatsApp because it is end-to-end encrypted, rather than because it is an incredibly user-friendly and cheap way to keep in touch with friends and family?" Rudd wrote in an editorial about encryption in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday.

Rudd, like leaders in Germany and France, as well as some politicians in America, is concerned about "end-to-end" encryption -- encryption that cannot be broken while data is in transit -- because there is no way for law enforcement to intercept such communications, even with a warrant.

Read more here.


SENATE DEMS LAUNCH TRADE AGENDA: Senate Democrats are trying to seize the reins from President Trump on trade, launching a set of proposals they say will save jobs and boost growth while White House plans sputter.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (N.Y.) along with five of his colleagues, on Wednesday unveiled seven trade tenets as part of their recently overhauled economic agenda aimed at reconnecting with voters who bolted for Trump's ticket in last year's elections.

"The problem is President Trump has talked a good game and done virtually nothing on trade except study it, he even backed off on steel and aluminum," Schumer told reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

Read more here.


TECH COMES OUT AGAINST PLAN TO CURB IMMIGRATION: Technology companies hammered a new White House-backed immigration bill, called the RAISE Act. The bill would reduce the amount of legal immigrants in the U.S, and give priority to English speaking immigrants. 

"This is not the right proposal to fix our immigration system because it does not address the challenges tech companies face, injects more bureaucratic dysfunction, and removes employers as the best judge of the employee merits they need to succeed and grow the U.S. economy," said Dean Garfield President of the Information Technology Industry Council, a technology trade association that represents major tech firms like Apple, Google and Amazon.



The FCC will hold its monthly open meeting at 10:30 a.m on Thursday.



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