Kate Tummarello

Senator 'within inches' of NSA reform deal

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is close to an agreement with Obama Administration on how to rein in government surveillance. Sen Leahy said that he is “impressed” with the Administration’s efforts to work towards a compromise.

“A whole lot of people are coming together, from the intelligence agencies, law enforcement, the administration,” he said. According to an aide to Sen Leahy, the senator and the Administration are “within inches” of an agreement on legislation. If a deal is reached, the bill could head straight to the Senate floor, the aide said.

Former FTC chief joins consumer data site

Jon Leibowitz, former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, has been appointed to the board of directors for a website that deals in consumer data.

The site -- Reputation.com -- allows consumers to store their personal data. Companies can then offer incentives to get consumers to give them access to that data.

Chamber backs Senate cyber bill

The US Chamber of Commerce is pressuring the Senate to take up and “expeditiously” pass a Senate cybersecurity bill that would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with each other and the federal government.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act “would strengthen the protection and resilience of businesses’ information networks and systems against increasingly sophisticated and malicious actors,” the Chamber said.

The bill -- from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Vice-chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) -- passed through the Intelligence Committee earlier in July by a 12-3 vote.

'Be careful' working with NSA, US tech security agency warned

A group of security experts is encouraging the US agency tasked with creating technological security standards to reevaluate its relationship with the National Security Agency. T

he group said the National Institute of Stadards and Technology (NIST) should not defer to the NSA given reports that the NSA deliberately weakened encryption standards created by NIST.

House moves to reign in FCC powers

The House approved a proposal to prohibit funding for the Federal Communications Commission to implement regulations preempting state laws on Internet access.

Rep Blackburn (R-TN) said her amendment to the fiscal 2015 Financial Services appropriations bill that would keep regulators from modifying state laws would limit federal overreach. Rep. José Serrano (D-NY) -- the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Financial Services subcommittee -- said the amendment would have the opposite effect.

"Whatever happened to localism or local control? This amendment means the federal government will tell every local citizen, mayor, and county council member that they may not act in their own best interests," Rep Serrano said. "Any such amendment is an attack on the rights of individual citizens speaking through their local leaders to determine if their broadband needs are being met."

AT&T, Comcast don't want community broadband

AT&T and Comcast don’t want local governments creating Internet networks for their taxpayers. Such networks are “poorly run and ultimately bankrupt,” Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said.

Testifying at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on video competition, Cohen and AT&T Senior Executive Vice President John Stankey pushed back on pressure to let local governments create Internet networks, despite state laws that often ban them.

When pressed by community-broadband supporter Sen Ed Markey (D-MA), Cohen said that local governments should be allowed to create Internet networks, but Comcast “will advocate at the municipal government level that we think this is a mistake.”

GOP pushes delay of Internet power transfer

House Republicans are pushing the Senate to delay the Obama Administration's plan for relinquishing America's oversight role over the Internet. Rep Greg Walden (R-OR) touted a House Republican bill that could pump the brakes on the Commerce Department’s plans to step back from its oversight role of the Internet’s Web address system and encouraged the Senate to take up the bill.

Rep Walden talked up the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act (DOTCOM Act), a bill from Rep John Shimkus (R-IL) that would require a congressional study before the administration could continue with its planned Internet oversight shift.

FCC sets new rules for online video clips

Regulators are establishing new rules requiring closed captions for online video clips. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously Friday to approve the rules from Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Chairman Wheeler repeated a pledge he made at another closed captioning vote earlier this year.

“This is just the beginning in dealing with our responsibility to make sure that individuals with special needs are in the front of the technology train, not the back of the technology train,” he said.

The vote sets requirements for online video clips that have aired on television with closed captions, mimicking current requirements for full-length online videos that originally were broadcast with captions on television. The new requirements apply to video distributors like broadcasters and cable and satellite companies. Under the 2010 Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, the FCC has the authority to require closed captions for online videos.

Musicians sing out: Walk back radio pledge

Music groups are pressuring Congress to back down from a pledge to keep AM/FM radio stations from paying musicians. “It’s hard enough to make a living as a musician -- and even harder when your own representatives in Congress won’t support your basic right to fair pay for your work,” new ads from music industry groups said.

The campaign from musicFirst, which includes music industry trade groups like the Recording Industry Association of America, the American Association of Independent Music and SoundExchange, asks lawmakers to remove their names from the Local Radio Freedom Act. The resolution, which would prohibit "any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge” on local AM/FM radio stations, is supported by a majority of the House.

MusicFirst is targeting signatories of that resolution, starting with Reps David Price (D-NC) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), through social media campaigns and newspaper ads in their districts. The ads call the resolution “an anti-musician resolution pushed by big corporate radio companies.”

As Congress -- especially the House Judiciary Committee -- looks to overhaul the music licensing rules under current copyright law, many have homed in on traditional AM/FM radio stations. While cable, satellite and Internet radio services pay royalty fees to musicians for the songs they play, AM/FM broadcasters do not pay musicians; they defend the practice by arguing they provide free promotion for musicians.

Senate Intelligence Committee approves cybersecurity bill

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12-3 to advance a cybersecurity bill that privacy advocates fear will give more information to the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies.

The bill's authors -- Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) -- hailed the vote as a step towards protecting the country from growing online threats.

Cybersecurity "is a serious problem and we need to begin" addressing it, Chairman Feinstein said after the vote. "No bill is going to be perfect that's going to be able to encompass a bipartisan approach.”