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Senate Hears ‘Consensus Framework’ Proposal and Concerns for Universal Service Reform

Thursday October 13th 2011 – As BroadbandBreakfast.com gears up for our panel on “Bringing Broadband Infrastructure to Rural Areas: Where is the Progress?” we have been taking some notes on the FCC’s efforts to reform the Universal Service Fund and listened in on Wednesday’s Senate Commerce Hearing on “Universal Service Reform – Bringing Broadband to… Keep Reading

Agency Heads Appear Before Congress to Tackle Privacy Issues

WASHINGTON July 18, 2011- Two congressional subcommittees called on the heads of several government agencies late last week to inquire how each addresses Internet privacy issues. The panel, assembled by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology included the heads of the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Keep Reading

FCC and FTC Deregulation Under Review As Key to Job Growth

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2011 – What was originally billed as a federal agency confessional before House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Thursday turned into a search to create American jobs and economic growth. Monday, the subcommittee held its fourth hearing to improve the regulatory review system. With the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, burdensome regulations from federal agencies are seen by both sides of the aisle and agency representatives to contribute to the problem. An Executive Order the President issued in January sought to streamline federal agencies by having them do a retrospective review of existing regulations and discard those they determined outdated and unnecessary. Keep Reading

China a Concern as Senate Judiciary Reviews IP Law Enforcement Efforts

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – Federal law enforcement agencies testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday regarding the current state of federal intellectual property rights enforcement and the challenges to enforcing IP laws due to a complex relationship with China. Witnesses from federal law enforcement agencies reported that the increasing complexity of prosecuting IP crimes due to their international and transnational nature has made cooperation and collaboration with foreign law enforcement agencies a high priority. Keep Reading

Patent Legislation Passes House Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON June 23, 2011 - After several unsuccessful attempts in previous Congresses, the House Judiciary Committee passed the America Invents Act late Tuesday by a vote of 32-3, moving the first significant overhaul of the U.S. patent system in more than 60 years one step closer to becoming law. The Senate passed a similar piece of legislation, the Patent Reform Act, in early March with a vote of 95-5. The House bill has gained the support of many companies including 3M, Apple, Dell, Facebook, General Electric, Google, and Johnson & Johnson. Keep Reading

Congress/Cybersecurity/Senate

Senate Subcommittee Evaluates Administration’s Cybersecurity Legislation Proposals

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011 – The Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism evaluated the Obama administration’s cyber security legislation proposal with respect to its own proposed cyber security proposals during a hearing Tuesday. Subcommittee members discussed with executive branch representatives the elements of the administration’s proposals to improve cyber security and individual privacy. Among the topics of the hearing were national data breach standards, the voluntary information sharing proposal and the recommendations for increased criminal penalties against cyber crime committed against critical infrastructure and racketeering. Keep Reading

Foreign Policy Research Institute Holds Cybersecurity Talk

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2011 –,The Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute presented expertise on the emerging threat in cyberspace Thursday to journalists, private sector industry leaders, government officials and strategists in Washington. Lawrence Husick, Senior Fellow at Foreign Policy Research Institute’s (FPRI) Center on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism, offered his expertise on leveraging technology as a defining characteristic of the modern terrorist. His presentation centered on the rapidly evolving nature of cyber attacks, and the lack of a comprehensive private sector cybersecurity initiative. Keep Reading

Congress/Privacy/Senate

Franken Introduces Geolocation Privacy Bill

WASHINGTON June 16, 2011- Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), introduced a bill Wednesday that would make rules more stringent for collecting geolocation data on mobile device users. The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011 would require companies to obtain users' expressed consent to collect location data and to notify users when they share location data with third parties. Keep Reading

House Subcommittee Debates Cyber Theft Measure

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2011 – Just days after Senate email accounts were hacked, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade held a hearing Wednesday to discuss a draft bill that would require companies to minimize the amount of data collected from consumers and notify them within two days of a data breach. Subcommittee members met with witnesses to clarify the ambiguous language of a discussion draft of Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s (R-CA) Secure and Fortify (SAFE) Data Act. The measure addresses the increasing threat of data theft, in the wake of high-profile cyber attacks on Sony, Epsilon, Lockheed-Martin and other U.S. companies. Keep Reading

TechFreedom Panel Criticizes Search Engine Bias Claims

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2011 – TechFreedom, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, assembled a panel of law professors gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss search engine bias and recent antitrust cases involving Google. The recently-established conservative policy group moved the event to the Capitol building to make it more accessible for Senate staffers and private businessmen to attend. Keep Reading

Patent Reform Coalition Calls for the End of Fee Diversion

WASHINGTON June 13, 2011 - The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, the Coalition for Patent Fairness, the Innovation Alliance along with a group of universities sent a joint letter to Congress Monday recommending that any patent reform legislation end the diversion of user fees from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In early March, the Senate passed the Patent Reform Act of 2011. The America Invents Act, a House companion to the Senate bill, is currently up for debate in the lower house. The bills would update many of the operations of the USPTO. Keep Reading

Senate Committee Passes Public Safety Spectrum Bill

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2011 – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed a deficit reducing measure Wednesday to reallocate the D-Block spectrum to public safety and gain federal funding to realize a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. The measure, known as the Strengthening Public-safety and Enhancing Communications Through Reform, Utilization, and Modernization (SPECTRUM) Act of 2011, is seen by proponents as a way to both reduce the federal deficit and honor first responders who lost their lives due to communications network failures during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Keep Reading

Leahy Introduces Data Security Bill

WASHINGTON June 8, 2011 - Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, re-introduced a bill Tuesday that would establish a national standard for the notification to consumers by corporations when data breaches occur. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) cosponsored the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, a reiteration of bills by the same name that have failed in each of the three previous Congresses. Keep Reading

Bono Mack: Sony Data Breach Is Cybersecurity ‘Ground Zero’

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2011 – The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade met on Thursday to learn the lessons from recent large-scale customer data breaches at Sony and Epsilon. The hearing examined the risks of the unprecedented data breaches, which Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Chair of the subcommittee, called a ‘ground zero’ for cyber attacks. Other members of the subcommittee also assessed current investigation efforts by those companies, and gathered input and support to craft new data breach legislation. Keep Reading

House Subcommittee Weighs Consequences of New Obama Cybersecurity Proposal

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011 - House Subcommittee members received answers long on ideas but short on specifics when they probed Obama administration officials during a hearing Wednesday on the President's cybersecurity review. The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet explored the ramifications of the Obama administration’s Cyberspace Policy Review in an oversight hearing that featured two witness panels representing federal and private interests. Keep Reading

House Subcommittee Examines Digital Goods Tax Bill

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2011 - The Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing Monday on a bill that would define limits on taxes for virtual goods and services on the Internet. The proposed legislation, known as the “Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act of 2011” aims to “promote neutrality, simplicity, and fairness in the taxation of digital goods and digital services.” The legislation would restrict taxing authority to the jurisdiction of the customer's tax address. Keep Reading

Senators Grill Mobile CEOs on AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

WASHINGTON May 12, 2011- The Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights assembled leading mobile CEOs Wednesday to explore the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. “The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile will bring together two of the four remaining national cell phone carriers to create the nation's largest cell phone network, with an estimated 43 percent market share,” said Sen Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Subcommittee, setting the tone for the hearing. “Should this deal be approved, AT&T and Verizon will control close to 80 percent of the national cell phone market.” Keep Reading

Barton, Markey Release Draft of ‘Do Not Track’ Bill for Kids

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2011 - Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Ed Markey (D-MD) released a discussion draft of to-be-introduced legislation that would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to reflect changes in current technology. The Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 would make several changes to the existing law, which dates back to 1998. Since then, says Rep. Barton, the Internet landscape has changed dramatically. Keep Reading

House Subcommittee Scrutinizes Possible Domain Name Expansion

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 - The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held a hearing Wednesday to investigate the possible effects of expanding Internet domain names beyond the traditional suffixes like .com and .net to potentially anything a registrant could type. The subcommittee probed plans by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to expand the generic top level domains (gTLDs) beyond the set menu of familiar suffixes like .org and .gov. The proposed new regime could comprise either an expanded menu of choices or an open door for registrants to create a suffix of their choosing, such as .google or .microsoft. Keep Reading

Walden Speaks On Net Neutrality, Spectrum At Cable Summit

WASHINGTON April 14, 2011 - Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, voiced his opposition Wednesday to network neutrality, supported increased oversight of the Federal Communications Commission and addressed how spectrum issues need to be explored with great caution at the American Cable Association summit. Keep Reading

Copps, Clyburn Push Media Reform In Boston

BOSTON, April 11, 2011 - Speaking to a standing-room only crowd on Friday afternoon, Federal Communications Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn addressed media consolidation and broadband deployment before fielding questions at a town hall meeting during Free Press's National Conference for Media Reform. Media scholar, Robert McChesney, offered the introduction for the event, addressing both the packed auditorium, an overflow room and those watching live via the web. Both commissioners received standing ovations from the crowd as they took the stage. Keep Reading

House To Vote On Anti-Net Neutrality Measure; Administration Threatens Veto

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2011 - The House of Representatives is anticipated to hold a floor debate and vote this week on a measure that would put the kibosh on net neutrality rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission late last year, but the White House has said that it would likely veto such a measure should it come across the President's desk. Keep Reading

Clean Energy Standard Implies Smart Grid Build Out, But Chances For Bill Remain Murky

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2011 President Barack Obama reaffirmed the nation’s need for a Clean Energy Standard (CES) during a speech at Georgetown University Wednesday, once again raising questions about how smart grid technology will fit into that future. Implicit in bringing on a wide range of clean energy sources is the need for a more efficient and modernized grid to handle the variable power supply. However, in this divided Congress, getting legislators to find common ground on a CES will come with a high hurdle rate, say analysts. Keep Reading

Barton, Markey to Wireless Carriers: ‘Do You Track Customers’ Location Info?’

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 - Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX), Co-Chairmen of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus sent letters Tuesday to Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T asking the wireless companies to disclose how the firms collect and stored user location data. The letters to all four major wireless carriers were sent response to a recent story in the New York Times, which reported that the German mobile provider Deutsche Telekom tracked the locations of German politicians. Keep Reading

Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition Holds Broadband Summit

WASHINGTON March 30, 2011- The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition assembled broadband stimulus award winners and government officials for their inaugural broadband summit on Tuesday to share solutions and success in solving digital literacy and adoption issues. The SHLBC, formed two years ago, comprises libraries, hospitals, schools, non-profit groups and corporations that seek to further broadband availability for community anchor institutions. Keep Reading

AT&T Announces $39B Deal To Acquire T-Mobile

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 - Nationwide wireless carrier, AT&T announced Sunday that it had finalized an agreement to acquire competitor T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion in cash and stock. The deal between the nation's second- and fourth-largest carriers would likely create the largest nationwide wireless carrier, topping current leader, Verizon. Keep Reading

Expert Opinion: How to Bring More Handsets to More Carriers

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 - Despite fanfare regarding the end of exclusivity for the Apple iPhone with the launch of a CDMA version, the reality is that many carriers are still unable to attain certain devices. While the majority of current subscribers now have access to the once-exclusive iPhone, because AT&T and Verizon have been allowed to create a duopoly in the wireless industry, from a competition standpoint, AT&T and Verizon are the only two carriers with access to the device. Translation: Less than 2 percent of domestic wireless carriers have access to one of the nation’s most coveted devices. Just as the iPhone is not the only smartphone on the market, it is also not the only device that is unavailable to consumers. Due to exclusive handset arrangements, consumers are left to choose between robust coverage where they live or the latest hot device they desire. Keep Reading

Patent Reform Passes Senate; Bill Headed to House

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2011 - The Senate passed a bill Tuesday evening that would significantly reform the U.S. patent system for the first time in nearly 60 years. The bill will now go to the House for consideration. The Senate passed the America Invents Act - formerly the Patent Reform Act of 2011 - by an overwhelming majority of 95-5. Congress has failed to pass comprehensive patent reform in each of the last four Congresses. Keep Reading

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