Blog posts tagged with 'Senate'
Thursday, March 28
Via Brendan Sasso of The Hill, some Senate Democrats are working to influence President Obama’s next pick for FCC Chairman:
Dozens of Senate Democrats are urging President Obama to consider choosing Jessica Rosenworcel to be the next chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission.
The current FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, has announced that he will step down in the coming weeks. If selected, Rosenworcel would be the first woman to lead the FCC.
Rosenworcel has been an FCC commissioner since last May. Before that, she served as an adviser to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC. She has also served as an aide at the FCC and worked in private practice.
All told, 37 Senators signed the letter, which can be read here.
Monday, January 14
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, won’t be running for another term. At Broadcasting & Cable, John Eggerton writes about the senator’s long-standing focus on technology:
Rockefeller has been one of the strongest voices for online privacy, a cybersecurity bill backed by the White House, inquiries into the impact of TV, online and video game content on kids, and was instrumental in legislation to auction broadcast spectrum to help pay for an interoperable 911 emergency communications network.
Wednesday, January 02
Via Brendan Sasso of The Hill, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has been approved by the Senate for another term on the Commission:
In a statement, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he looks forward to continuing to work with her.
“Commissioner Clyburn is an excellent and dedicated public servant and has been a strong advocate in seeking to extend the benefits of broadband to all Americans,” he said.
Also approved was Republican Joshua Wright for the Federal Trade Commission. Interestingly, Wright has agreed to recuse himself from any FTC cases involving Google for at least two years due to the search/advertising giant having funded Wright’s academic research.
Wednesday, September 19
Last month, the House of Representatives voted to oppose regulation of the Internet by the United Nations (you can read our thoughts on the subject here). Now, Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports, the Senate is also taking up the cause:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the sponsor of the resolution, said he is not sure when there will be a vote in the full Senate. He said scheduling can be a challenge, but he is hopeful the measure will pass with unanimous support.
“We haven’t found anyone who is against it yet, so that’s a good sign,” Rubio told reporters after the committee vote.
Sen. Rubio’s resolution was approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Friday, July 27
David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times report on a troubling cybersecurity trend:
The top American military official responsible for defending the United States against cyberattacks said Thursday that there had been a 17-fold increase in computer attacks on American infrastructure between 2009 and 2011, initiated by criminal gangs, hackers and other nations.
The assessment by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who heads the National Security Agency and also the newly created United States Cyber Command, appears to be the government’s first official acknowledgment of the pace at which America’s electricity grids, water supplies, computer and cellphone networks and other infrastructure are coming under attack. Those attacks are considered potentially far more serious than computer espionage or financial crimes.
On a related note, via John Eggerton over at Broadcasting & Cable, the Senate yesterday voted to push forward on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.
Wednesday, June 27
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a resolution — put forward by Rep. Bono Mack — that officially opposed Internet governance by international entities. Today, Senators Claire McCaskill and Marco Rubio put forward their own resolution. From McCaskill’s website:
Citing the potential impacts on internet freedom and on technology jobs in the U.S., McCaskill and Rubio are leading a Senate resolution to make clear that the United States opposes allowing any international body or foreign country to have jurisdiction over internet management or regulation. A strengthened version of the resolution was introduced today, with the backing of Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Kerry (D-MA), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Non-profit, non-governmental entities currently regulate and oversee the Internet, keeping the global network out of reach of any one government or international body. However, recent proposals-including some by the governments of Russia, China, and Iran-would turn some of the most critical Internet functions over to the United Nations, which could negatively affect innovation and dramatically expand the power of foreign countries to limit or censor speech within their borders.
Thursday, June 21
At The Hill, Brendan Sasso reports on some positive news in the ongoing — and often stalled — effort to connect rural communities to broadband:
The Senate unanimously added an amendment to the farm bill on Wednesday that would require that a portion of federal grants be used to expand high-speed Internet access to under-served areas.
The Senate’s farm bill would double funding for the Agriculture Department’s rural Internet programs — from $25 million to $50 million.
The amendment came courtesy of Sen. Mark Warner.
Wednesday, May 16
The full FCC is set to appear before the Senate Commerce Committee today, Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton has a preview of what newly appointed Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel will say during the appearance:
According to a copy of those remarks, she will give a shout out to incentive auctions and the FCC’s history of delivering the goods—raising $50 billion for the treasury. She will also express confidecence that with the “right mix of engineering and economics,” the incentive auctions can follow in that tradition and, so long as the FCC follows the law, be “fair to all stakeholders.”
That law includes the requirement that broadcasters not be forced to participate.
The hearing begins at 2:30 pm EST, and will be streamed on CSPAN.
Monday, May 07
After months in confirmation limbo, FCC nominees Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai have been given the nod by the Senate. Via Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton:
Both Rosenworcel and Pai had been reported favorably out of the Senate Commerce Committee Dec. 8, 2011, but a full Senate vote was blocked by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) over an issue unrelated to their nominations—the FCC’s LightSquared waiver.
With Grassley’s hold lifted two weeks ago, it freed up the nominations for the vote, which, as expected, was a big thumbs up.
They will face some big decisions early on, including media ownership rule review, the definition of multichannel video provider and the framework for spectrum incentive auctions.
Rosenworcel and Pai will be sworn in by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski sometime this week.
Monday, March 26
In the wake of last week’s news that a growing number of employers are demanding the social media passwords of prospective hires, The Hill‘s Brendan Sasso reports the practice is receiving attention from the Senate:
Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) on Sunday urged federal authorities to investigate whether employers who ask for their workers’ Facebook passwords are breaking the law.
Both Senators are currently drafting legislation. Last week, Facebook strongly came out against the practice.
Wednesday, March 21
In anticipation of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights hearing on the proposed spectrum deal between Verizon and cable companies, Comcast’s Executive Vice President David Cohen has previewed his testimony on the company’s public policy blog:
The spectrum license transfers are consistent with the Communications Act, FCC rules, and the antitrust laws. They also will further the spectrum policy goals of Congress, the Administration, and the National Broadband Plan. Neither the License Assignment nor the Commercial Agreements reduce or harm competition in any product or geographic market. In fact, the agreements will offer further competition and innovation in the marketplace.
Monday, March 19
This week, the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights is going to be taking a close look at Verizon’s proposed spectrum-fueled deal with cable companies. The Hill‘s Brendan Sasso has a preview:
The Rural Cellular Association, other wireless carriers including Sprint and T-Mobile and consumer groups such as Free Press argue the spectrum deal will allow Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier, to consolidate its control over the airwaves, stifling competition. The groups also argue that the cross-marketing deals could lead to price-fixing or other anticompetitive behavior.
Verizon said the spectrum deal will help it meet the growing demands posed by smartphones and tablet computers. The company pointed out that the cable companies have no immediate plans to use the spectrum licenses.
Friday, March 16
Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton reports a date for a hearing on Verizon’s proposed spectrum deal with cable companies has been set:
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, chaired by Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), has slated its planned hearing on Verizon’s purchase of cable spectrum for March 21. The hearing title sets up the debate: “The Verizon/Cable Deals: Harmless Collaboration or a Threat to Competition and Consumers?”
According to the hearing notice, the witnesses will include top execs from Verizon and SpectrumCo principal partner, Comcast, as well as academics and public interest representatives.
Wednesday, January 25
In last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama highlighted the need to build out high-speed broadband to everyone in America:
Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges. A power grid that wastes too much energy. An incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.
The President also called for “comprehensive cybersecurity legislation from Congress. As Gautham Nagesh of The Hill reports, that call received a swift response from key members of the Senate:
Senate Homeland Security chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) echoed President Obama’s call in the State of the Union for Congress to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislation on Tuesday evening.
“The President’s call for Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation underscores the pressing nature of securing the government’s cyber systems and networks—and a limited number of private sector networks that touch the lives of all Americans,” Lieberman said.
Senate leaders have been working on legislation that would place the Department of Homeland Security in charge of regulating private networks, while in the House a more limited legislation has also been debated.
Thursday, December 08
Speaking of the FCC, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the nominations of Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel to the Commission. But as John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports, the nominees’ smooth sailing is about to hit a roadblock in the form of Sen. Charles Grassley, who has reiterated his commitment to blocking the nominations. Sen. Grassley’s statement:
“More than seven months ago, I started asking the FCC for information that would shed light on the agency’s apparent rush to approve the LightSquared project. The agency has provided none of the information and found excuses not to provide the information. Even the private companies involved, LightSquared and Harbinger Capital, have promised to be more forthcoming than the FCC as a public agency funded by the taxpayers. LightSquared and Harbinger Capital promised to provide me with requested documents on their dealings with the FCC this week. As a last resort to try to exhort more transparency and accountability from the FCC, I’ll place a hold on consideration of the agency nominees on the Senate floor. This agency controls a big part of the economy. It conducts the public’s business. And the public’s business ought to be public.”
As Eggerton points out, a single Senator has the power to stand in the way of the nominations. Stay tuned…
Friday, November 18
Via Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post, Ajit Varadaraj Paj and Jessica Rosenworcel — President Obama’s two nominees for the FCC — will have their day before the Senate for confirmation on November 30.
Earlier this month, Sen. Chuck Grassley stated he would hold up the process over a dispute between the Senate and the FCC over mobile broadband provider LightSquared, but Commerce Committee chair Sen. Jay Rockefeller is still pushing for a quick confirmation.
Friday, November 04
Earlier this week, President Obama nominated Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai as commissioners at the FCC. At the time, it was expected both nominees would sail through the confirmation process. But as Cecilia Kang at the Washington Post reports, an unexpected roadblock has appeared:
On Thursday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) submitted in a Congressional statement directed to President Obama that he would object to the nominations of Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai as commissioners at the FCC.
The reason for Sen. Grassley’s objection is his ongoing investigation into a special waiver the FCC gave to satellite broadband upstart LightSquared, which has encountered problems with building out a planned nationwide LTE network due to interference concerns. As Kang reports:
...Grassley said he would stand in the way because of the FCC chairman’s denial of requests for documents in his six-month-long investigation of the regulatory process of LightSquared’s satellite venture.
Staff for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski say they have cooperated with Grassley, but that his committee doesn’t have oversight over the agency and can’t make document requests.
Evidently Sen. Grassley doesn’t believe the commission fully cooperated, hence his objection to the two nominees. Stay tuned…
Thursday, August 04
Earlier this week, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith voiced his support for the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Now, The Hill‘s Gautham Nagesh reports Senators Mike Lee and John Cornyn — two members of the Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust subpanel — have joined him:
“Based on the evidence available to the Subcommittee, there are a number of reasons why a merger between AT&T and T-Moble may prove to be a positive step along the path to world-class wireless broadband throughout the United States,” the pair wrote.
“Some of this evidence suggests that the merger would provide significant and immediate efficiencies enabling enhanced service quality, expanded network capacity, and increased data speeds.”
Wednesday, July 20
Via Josh Peterson of Broadband Breakfast, the Department of Defense is focusing heavily on the threat of cyberattacks:
The DoD Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace (DSOC) is the first unified strategy for conducting operations in cyberspace between the Defense Department’s military, intelligence and business operations. The DoD is coordinating its cyber security efforts with the Department of Homeland Security and private companies responsible for maintaining critical infrastructure through threat information sharing and more robust network protection.
But while preparing for battle against cyber attackers is definitely smart, The Hill‘s John T. Bennett reports that questions linger about the difference between an attack and an all-out act of war:
[The DoD’s document] does not define what the Obama administration considers an act of cyberwar, nor does it detail how the military would respond to a major electronic attack. It also features no description of the kinds of actions the military is conducting in the electronic domain.
Those omissions brought fresh questions Tuesday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about whether the Defense Department, White House, federal agencies and industry are truly prepared for a major attack on the U.S. through the Internet.
Monday, June 27
This Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee, led by Chairman John D. Rockefeller, will be looking at privacy issues in the digital age. From the hearing announcement:
The hearing will examine how entities collect, maintain, secure, and use personal information in today’s economy and whether consumers are adequately protected under current law. The Commerce Committee will hear from representatives from relevant government agencies as well as business and consumer advocate stakeholders.