Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 29, 2015

January 29, 2015

Internet Governance: A Hearing Planned and a Resolution Introduced

In case you missed it, Sen. John Thune laid out out his to-do list on tech policy issues on Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute and among the issues he mentioned was Internet governance.

Referring to the National Information and Telecommunication Administration’s plan to transfer its role in certain functions of the Internet domain name system to the global multistakeholder community (which has been the subject of GOP scrutiny), the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said he expected to hold a hearing with NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling and chief executive officer and president of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, Fadi Chehadé, some time after ICANN’s February meeting in Singapore to talk about the status of the transition proposal. NTIA asked ICANN last year to convene stakeholders to develop a transition proposal.

From the South Dakota Republican’s remarks:

If this transition is going to happen it has to be done very carefully. We have to focus on ensuring that the Internet will remain open, stable and secure. Russia, China and the United Nations have been all trying for years to exert more control over the Internet. And we cannot let this process be hijacked by those regimes. I’ve been working with Senator Marco Rubio to hold the administration accountable to its promises and to urge ICANN to implement accountability reforms as part of the IANA transition process. If these goals cannot be met, the administration should simply renew the IANA contract indefinitely.

Earlier this week, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo, introduced a resolution that would designate the second week of February as “Internet Governance Awareness Week” to increase public awareness of NTIA’s intent to “transition the stewardship of the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to the global multistakeholder community.”

Additional purposes of the week mentioned in the resolution include bringing the attention of participants in the next global ICANN meeting “to the importance of designing a transition proposal for the stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions, in conjunction with accountability and governance reforms to best prepare ICANN for executing its existing responsibilities in addition to the responsibilities that it may receive under any transition of the stewardship of the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.” The resolution lays out elements of such a proposal and overhaul it deems important.

January 28, 2015

FAA Warns No Drones Allowed at the Super Bowl

In case you were thinking of bringing your drone to the Super Bowl this weekend, the Federal Aviation Administration is issuing a reminder that no drones are allowed.

According to this FAA release:

The FAA bars unauthorized aircraft – including drones – from flying over or near NFL regular- and post-season football games.

A FAA fact sheet for Sunday’s game says:

All unmanned aircraft operations – also known as drones—are prohibited within the restricted areas. These include model aircraft operations, model rocketry and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Anyone who operates an unmanned aircraft in the restricted area could face civil penalties or criminal charges.

They also uploaded this YouTube video Wednesday with the following voice over: “Going to the big game? Have fun, cheer on your team and keep it a no drone zone. Don’t spoil the game. Leave your drone at home.”

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 3:34 p.m.

State of Play on Net Neutrality Legislation: It’s Still a GOP Bill

A number of Democrats on the Hill see issues with a net neutrality bill proposed by GOP leaders of the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees. On Wednesday, the chairman of the Senate panel gave a state of play on whether any Democrats are on board the proposal. The short answer: none yet.

“We’ve been trying to get buy in from… some Democrats,” John Thune, R-S.D., at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.

“If we’re gonna come up with a legislative solution… we’re gonna have to have some Democrats on board,” he said. “We haven’t landed anybody with certainty yet, but we’ve got a lot of folks that are looking at it, we’re keeping the negotiations open.”

He later said: “I’m hopeful that we’ll be able at some point to pull some Dems into this discussion and perhaps even get some on board with a legislative solution, but I don’t have anything to report today in terms of success with that.”

Data Privacy Day: Op-Eds Call for ECPA Update

A couple op-eds timed for Data Privacy Day today reiterate calls for lawmakers to pass an update of the 1986 Electronic Communications Act.

In a piece in Real Clear Policy, Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, say they’ll reintroduce their legislation to update the 1986 law, which the Senate Judiciary Committee has previously approved, in the “coming weeks”:

They write:

The proposal we will soon introduce requires the government to obtain a search warrant, based on probable cause, before searching through the content of Americans’ e-mail or other electronic communications stored with a service provider such as Google, Facebook, or Yahoo!. The government is already prohibited from tapping our phones or forcibly entering our homes to obtain private information without warrants. The same privacy protections should apply to our online communications.

“Congress should pass ECPA reform this year, and President Barack Obama should sign these important privacy reforms into law,” they write.

For some background: under the current 180-day rule, law enforcement can obtain content of emails 180-days or less with a subpoena, not a search warrant.

Gate Rottman, legislative counsel and policy adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union and Katie McAuliffe, federal affairs managers and executive director of Digital Liberty at Americans for Tax Reform, also call for lawmakers to pass legislation to update the 1986 law in an op-ed in Roll Call.

They write:

The purpose of ECPA was to protect our privacy. Technological innovations have now turned that protection on its head, making it a threat to our privacy instead. Its original intent must be restored. Government must live within the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment. Our privacy, our economic future, our way of life depend on it.

January 27, 2015

FTC Releases Staff Recommendations on the Internet of Things

A Federal Trade Commission staff report released Tuesday on connected devices known as the Internet of Things says legislation specific to this area of technology is “premature,” but reiterates recommendations for broader legislation on data security and privacy.

From the report:

Commission staff agrees with those commenters who stated that there is great potential for innovation in this area and that IoT-specific legislation at this stage would be premature. Staff also agrees that development of self-regulatory programs designed for particular industries would be helpful as a means to encourage the adoption of privacy-and security-sensitive practices.

However, in light of the ongoing threats to data security and the risk that emerging IoT technologies might amplify these threats, staff reiterates the Commission’s previous recommendations for Congress to enact strong, flexible, and technology-neutral federal legislation to strengthen its existing data security enforcement tools and to provide notification to consumers when there is a security breach.

The report goes on to state that the “pervasiveness of information collection and use” made possible by the Internet of Things “reinforces the need for baseline privacy standards, which the Commission previously recommended in its 2012 privacy report.”

“Commission staff thus again recommends that Congress enact broad-based (as opposed to IoT-specific) privacy legislation,” the report states. “Such legislation should be flexible and technology-neutral, while also providing clear rules of the road for companies about such issues as how to provide choice to consumers about data collection and use practices.”

The report notes that Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen disagrees with this portion of the recommendations, because she “questions what harms baseline privacy legislation would reach that the FTC’s existing authority cannot.”

Much of the report focuses on staff recommendations for best practices for companies on security, data minimization and notice and choice.

State-of-Play of Democratic Police Body Camera Proposals

In your latest Roll Call Policy Focus, CQ Roll Call’s Joanna Anderson takes a look at a pair of Democratic proposals to equip more police with body cameras.

She writes:

Two similar Democratic proposals to equip more police officers with body-worn cameras should come into better focus within days, as details emerge on a White House initiative as well as a prominent African-American lawmaker’s legislation in the House.

But GOP lawmakers with authority on the issue on both sides of Capitol Hill are so far tight-lipped

Read the rest of the story here.

January 26, 2015

CTIA Hires Tom Power

The wireless industry group CTIA-The Wireless Association announced Monday that it’s hired the White House’s former deputy chief technology officer for telecommunications, Tom Power, to be its senior vice president and general counsel.

Some of Power’s former jobs:

  • White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy: deputy chief technology officer for telecommunications.
  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration: chief of staff.
  • Fiberlink Communications: general counsel.
  • Federal Communications Commission: senior legal adviser to then-Chairman William Kennard.
  • Law firm Winston & Strawn: telecommunications and litigation partner.

Power is replacing Michael Altschul, who is retiring.


By Anne L. Kim Posted at 12:15 p.m.

The Week Ahead: State of the Net, Data Breach Hearing & FCC Open Meeting

The State of the Net Conference, a House hearing regarding data breach legislation and the Federal Communications Commission’s January open meeting are on tap for this week.


The Federal Communications Commission hosts a “Small Business & Emerging Technologies Conference and Tech Fair.”

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing titled “What are the Elements of Sound Data Breach Legislation?”

A subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee holds a cybersecurity hearing.

The Internet Education Foundation hosts its annual State of the Net Conference.


The American Enterprise Institute’s Center for Internet, Communications and Technology Policy hosts an event on tech policy issues in 2015.

The Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosts a panel discussion on media mergers and independent programmers.

A subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee holds a hearing on supercomputing.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing titled “Protecting America from Cyber Attacks: The Importance of Information Sharing.”


The Center for Democracy and Technology holds an event titled “Always On: The Digital Patient.”

The Federal Communications Commission holds its January open meeting.

George Mason University School of Law’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property co-hosts a discussion on patents and startups.

January 23, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: SOTU, Net Neutrality and Patents

It was a short but busy week and your Weekly Wrapup includes posts on the State of the Union address, net neutrality hearings and patents.

  • President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address and in advance of the speech, Technocrat had a roundup of a few stories that at least touched upon social media and either White House strategy or lawmakers.
  • Among the issues that weren’t mentioned in Tuesday’ night’s address was patents, and  a couple proponents of legislation targeting abusive patent litigation said they were disappointedMichelle K. Lee, deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, later said it wasn’t a reflection of any change in priorities.
  • Lawmakers on the Hill held net neutrality hearings and Technocrat had a post on interesting quotes from a couple House Republicans showing their current approach to the issue.
  • Oh, and Valencia Martin-Wallace has been promoted to a newly-created job at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — deputy commissioner for patent quality.

Weekend Reads: Internet Archive, Bitcoin Exchange and Pinterest

If you’re planning this weekend to grab some coffee, throw your feet on the table and catch up on some reads you missed during this busy, busy week, here are a few stories to get you started:

  • The New Yorker has a piece on the Internet Archive, a San Francisco nonprofit, and its Wayback Machine: “The Wayback Machine is a Web archive, a collection of old Web pages; it is, in fact, the Web archive.”
  • The New York Times has a story on Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’s bid to create the “first regulated Bitcoin exchange for American customers — what they are calling the Nasdaq of Bitcoin.”
  • The Wall Street Journal has a story about Pinterest’s efforts to attract more male users: “The male experience on Pinterest has been similar to visiting a women’s department store. Now Pinterest is trying to make it easier for them to find the men’s section.”

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