Hill, The

Sen Markey urges FCC to drop new net neutrality regulations

Sen Ed Markey (D-MA) called on the Federal Communications Commission to reject proposed regulations governing consumers' Internet use. Sen Markey said that such changes to how Americans use the Internet would impede innovation.

Using C-SPAN as an example, he said that users could potentially see slower live streams. "Let's face it, the action in this deliberative body can sometimes feel a little bit slow," Sen Markey said. "Now imagine just a few companies deciding that C-SPAN.org will be put into a slow lane that public interest content streamed out to the world will be sent out at an even more deliberative pace, while kitten videos will get priority."

Sen Markey said that the proposed net neutrality rules would favor wealthy entrepreneurs. The Massachusetts Democrat further argued that different Internet speeds for certain companies would discourage creativity.

Sen Cruz looking to blunt FCC authority

Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) is looking to strip the Federal Communications Commission of its ability to write new network neutrality rules. The senator is currently circulating draft legislation that would undercut the commission’s legal authority to write new regulations governing the way that Internet service providers treat different streams of traffic online.

Sen Cruz “has serious concerns about the course the FCC is pursuing on net neutrality and on the questionable authority on which it’s relying,” spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said. “He is exploring legislative options to preserve the freedom of the Internet to remain an engine for jobs, growth and opportunity, and we have been in touch with other offices to that end.”

Sen Franken fears phone fingerprint technology

Sen Al Franken (D-MN) is worried that new technology allowing smart phones to recognize a user based on their fingerprint could allow people’s identities to be stolen.

In a letter to the heads of Samsung, the senator wrote that the feature in the company’s Galaxy S5 phone “may not be as secure as it may seem” and could lead to “broader security problems” with the device.

“Fingerprints are the opposite of secret,” he wrote. “You leave them on countless objects that you touch throughout the day: your car door, a glass of water, even the screen of your smartphone... If hackers get hold of a digital copy of your fingerprint, they could use it to impersonate you for the rest of your life, particularly as more and more technologies start relying on fingerprint authentication.”

FCC Republican Commissioners in the dark on newest ‘fast lane’ proposal

The two Republicans at the Federal Communications Commission say they have not seen Chairman Tom Wheeler’s latest plans to rewrite the agency’s network neutrality rules, despite the vote on the item scheduled soon.

“When it comes to the Chairman's latest net neutrality proposal, the Democratic Commissioners are in the fast lane and the Republican Commissioners apparently are being throttled,” FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s office said in a statement.

“The Chairman's Office should end this discrimination and stop blocking the Republican Commissioners from seeing the Chairman's latest plan,” Commissioner Pai’s Chief of Staff Matthew Berry said. Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s office confirmed that he had not received Chairman Wheeler’s latest proposal either.

MoveOn pressures FCC to drop Web ‘fast lanes’

Liberal group MoveOn.org is running a TV advertisement in Washington opposing a move to allow companies to create different Internet speeds for various websites.

The new ad comes ahead of the Federal Communications Commission’s meeting, where commissioners are scheduled to vote to move forward with the controversial "fast lanes" proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The ad begins with a quote from President Obama, who in 2010 said he was a “big believer in net neutrality,” the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. “Now the FCC might change the rules and let Verizon and Comcast pick winners and losers online,” a narrator says. “Tell the FCC to listen to President Obama.”

The ad is showing in Washington, via by a five-figure buy. The FCC’s contested potential rule would require that Internet service providers maintain a baseline level of service for all websites, but would allow companies to enter into deals to boost speeds for some users. That would make it possible for a company like Google to pay Comcast so that subscribers get quicker access to its sites, for example.

NSA director promises greater transparency

National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers said he wants to promote greater transparency within the agency tainted by releases of classified documents by Edward Snowden.

He said he intends to be more candid with the public about the NSA’s activities.

"The idea of accountability and responsibility is very important to me," he said. "We must ensure that we do not in any way abuse this capability.” He also defended the NSA’s metadata surveillance program, saying it needed better explanation but not necessarily an overhaul.

"It is by design that I have tried to start a series of engagements with a broader and perhaps more different groups than we have traditionally done," he added. “The dialogue to date that we have had for much of the last nine months or so from my perspective, I wish was a little bit broader, had a little more context to it, and was a little bit more balanced."

Senate Dems protest FCC plan for Internet ‘fast lanes’

A group of 10 senators are asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to abandon a proposal that would allow Internet providers to create online “fast lanes.”

The proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would “irrevocably change the Internet as we know it,” the senators wrote in a letter to Chairman Wheeler.

“Small businesses, content creators and Internet users must not be held hostage by an increasingly consolidated broadband industry.” The letter comes days before the FCC’s scheduled May 15 vote on Chairman Wheeler’s attempts to rewrite his agency’s network neutrality rules.

In their letter, the senators said Chairman Wheeler’s proposal “would eradicate net neutrality, not preserve it.” They told the FCC chairman that his plan goes against the agency’s commitment to an open Internet.

“The genius of the Internet is that it allows innovation without permission, not innovation only after cutting a deal with the [Internet provider] and receiving the FCC’s blessing for it,” the letter said. Instead of Chairman Wheeler’s current plans, the agency should consider reclassifying Internet providers to make them more like traditional phone companies, over which the agency has clear authority to regulate more broadly.

Rep Green: Sprint, T-Mobile rumored deal needs ‘critical look’

Rep Gene Green (D-TX) called on the federal government to carefully examine a yet-to-be-proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. “Congress must take a careful and critical look at this deal if and when it is announced and stand up for what’s best for American consumers and American jobs,” Green said, speaking on the floor of the House.

Though the companies have not officially announced their plans to merge, officials from SoftBank -- which purchased Sprint in early 2013 -- have begun publicly touting the benefits the company could bring to the American wireless market if it had a bigger presence. Advocates for the merger say the two companies could better take on industry giants AT&T and Verizon if they combine.

NSA reform bill heads to House floor

The House Intelligence Committee approved legislation to make a number of reforms to the National Security Agency, sending the bill to the House floor. The Intelligence Committee’s approval of the USA Freedom Act by voice vote came just a day after the same bill sailed through the Judiciary Committee on a 32-0 vote and adds to the momentum for reining in the NSA nearly a year after leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shocked the world with details of the agency’s operations.

“Enhancing privacy and civil liberties while protecting the operational capability of a critical counterterrorism tool, not pride of authorship, has always been our first and last priority,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) said in a joint statement after the closed-door vote. “We are pleased the House Judiciary Committee reached a compromise that garnered strong, bipartisan support. We look forward to working with the Judiciary Committee, House and Senate leadership, and the White House to address outstanding operational concerns and enact the USA Freedom Act into law this year.”

Broadcast giant forms PAC

Broadcast industry giant Sinclair Broadcasting Group is forming a PAC, according to paperwork recently filed with Federal Election Commission.

Sinclair Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy Rebecca Hanson, the company will use the PAC as it works on issues in front of Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“There are a lot of challenges facing our industry, and we believe that engaging in the process through the PAC is one of a variety of ways to further our goals,” Hanson said. On its website, Sinclair boasts being "one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country today," including FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates.