Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 27, 2015

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.”

Quote of the Day: Obama and Cybersecurity

Thursday’s livestream of YouTube stars interviewing President Barack Obama wasn’t focused on tech policy, with questions ranging from marijuana policy to bullying. But the YouTubers did ask a couple questions dealing with the Sony hack and Chinese Internet censorship.

In case you missed it, among Obama’s response to a question regarding the Sony hack: “In fact the hacking against Sony  – which we believe was done by North Korea – it wasn’t even that sophisticated. But it just goes to show how vulnerable we are.”


January 22, 2015

USPTO Creates New Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality Post

Valencia Martin-Wallace has been promoted to a newly-created job at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — deputy commissioner for patent quality.

A few notes about Martin-Wallace:

  • Most recent gig: assistant deputy commissioner for patent operations.
  • Years worked at USPTO: more than two decades.
  • Education: Bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Howard University, law degree from George Washington University School of Law and certificate in advanced public administration from Syracuse University’s public administration school.

So, what’s the new job? If it’s not obvious from the title, it involves managing patent quality work.

Martin-Wallace’s bio says she’s “responsible for sustaining the high quality of the USPTO’s patent examination processes and products by implementing and maintaining a comprehensive quality management system.”

Her boss, USPTO Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee (who’s been nominated to be director and is currently the most senior USPTO official since the director post has long been vacant.) said at The Brookings Institution on Thursday that the new position would “focus exclusively on patent quality efforts at the PTO.”

“I wanted one person whose one and only job it is to think day in and day out on how to improve patent quality at the PTO,” Lee said.

As an aside, if you’ll recall, Technocrat had a post earlier this week about a couple proponents of legislation targeting abusive patent litigation saying they were disappointed that there was no mention of such legislation in President Barack Obama‘s State of the Union speech.

Answering a reporter’s question about Obama not mentioning patent legislation in his speech, Lee said it wasn’t an indication that the issue was a lesser priority for the administration.

“For patents to get two mentions two years in a row would be fantastic,” but the President has “obviously many competing demands” on his time,” she said, adding that it doesn’t reflect a change in priorities.

BlackBerry Calls for ‘Content/Application Neutrality’

When talking about of the scope of net neutrality rules, debate in Washington has focused on issues like wireless broadband and interconnection. On Wednesday, BlackBerry CEO John Chen wrote in a blog post that rules should also cover content and application providers.

“Therefore, any net neutrality legislation must take a holistic view of the entire playing field, addressing both carrier neutrality and content/application neutrality,” he writes in the post, which notes that it’s adapted from a letter sent to leaders of the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees.

Full story

January 21, 2015

Shimkus: ‘We Need to Get This Monkey Off Our Back’

In part one of today’s double-dose of net neutrality hearings, issues discussed ranged from wireless to “specialized services.” A couple of the interesting comments from the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing and afterwards highlighted GOP thinking on net neutrality and draft bill that was released by Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Commerce Science Transportation Committees last week.

“I’m a paid prioritization guy,” said Illinois Republican John Shimkus, arguing money has to be made if billions of dollars are going to be invested every year-and-a-half and that his position has been to ensure expansion of Internet infrastructure.

“But that was then, this is now,” he said.  “We’re in a new world order where I think we have now looked at the debate and said… we need to get this monkey off our back.”

Some certainty and rules were needed, he said.

Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., answering a question from a reporter  about whether he was worried that some conservatives wouldn’t back any type of Internet regulation, said:

They’ll have to make their own decisions, but I think in the face of what the FCC’s going to do is far worse and not legally sustainable and will have a negative effect on the market that… they’ll see this as a better course of action with certainty. And we found support among a lot of those groups who like we didn’t think that the Internet’s broken and needed top-down government control. We can offer up something different and better here that enshrines the principals people care about without this forbearance of all these laws.

Walden, who released the draft bill last week with full panel chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., later said:  “If it’s gonna be done, it’s going to be done. Right? The FCC’s gonna do it. We’ve got to do it right.”

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