Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 31, 2015

Posts by Anne L. Kim

392 Posts

January 30, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: Internet of Things, Internet Governance and NASA Budget

Among the news this week, the Federal Communications Commission changed its definition of what constitutes advanced Internet access and Google Fiber announced four more metropolitan areas where it would deploy. At Technocrat, we had posts for you on the Internet of Things, Sen. John Thune’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute and more.

  • The Federal Trade Commission released a staff report on the Internet of Things. Among the takeaways was the report’s determination that it’s “preemptive” to enact legislation specific to this area of technology.
  • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D. laid out his to-do list on tech issues and among the matters he discussed: net neutrality and Internet governance.
  • If you’re lucky enough to go to the Super Bowl, the Federal Aviation Administration reminds you not to fly your drone.

Let’s Look Back at Previous Budget Requests for NASA

The President releases his annual budget request to Congress on Monday and Technocrat’s going to be keeping an eye out for what the administration proposes for NASA. In advance of Monday, let’s take a look back at some of the notable, controversial, or just eye-catching elements of previous budget requests for the agency.

Fiscal year 2015: The administration proposed a significant boost for the commercial crew program while slashing funding for an airborne observatory program called the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. The NASA budget also proposed funding for initial work for a potential new mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

Fiscal year 2014: The administration proposed funding for a mission to capture and move an asteroid. It hasn’t gone over particularly well with Republicans.

Fiscal year 2013: The budget request sought significantly less money for the Mars robotic exploration program and  NASA said it would put the brakes on 2016 and 2018 joint Mars missions with the European Space Agency.

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 11:14 a.m.

Spectrum Auction: Competition, Dish and Relocation

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of a set of spectrum called AWS-3 raised a lot of money. A new record of nearly $45 billion to be exact, and much more than had been predicted.

Thursday’s announcement means that more than $20 billion will go towards deficit reduction and $7 billion for the nationwide public safety broadband network known as FirstNet, according to an FCC blog post.

In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of interesting bits of Thursday’s coverage:

Wall Street Journal: “The bidding highlights the enormous scale needed to compete in the U.S. wireless market, a reality that makes it hard for rivals to challenge the market’s leaders. AT&T and Verizon control most of the industry’s most lucrative customers and the bulk of its revenue and profit, which gives them enormous financial firepower in such auctions.”

Reuters: “The auction will also be important to Dish, which already owns similar airwaves whose value will now be crystallized for the first time. Its shares had hit an all-time peak during the course of the auction and rose 3.1 percent to $73.75 on Thursday afternoon.”

CNET: “It could take some time before wireless operators can put their new spectrum to use. The Department of Defense is using some of the frequencies that were sold for things like missile guidance systems and drone training programs. The agency has said some of these programs may take five to 10 years to relocate to other spectrum.”

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.
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