The Washington Post

The Circuit: Cybersecurity, spectrum and privacy

Cybersecurity: The House subcommittee on communications and technology discussed cybersecurity on the Hill Wednesday, to examine threats to security networks with a focus on public sector response.

The hearing came as FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry warned that the country is “not winning” its war against computer hackers in a report in The Wall Street Journal He said he has been frustrated by companies that do not appear to be taking cyber threats seriously.

On Tuesday, Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) proposed a new piece of cybersecurity legislation that is aimed at improving communication between the public and private sectors on cybersecurity issues. The bill, called the SECURE IT Act, drew swift criticism from Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) who called it “misguided” for relying on private companies to propose voluntary safety standards.

NTIA spectrum report: On Tuesday, the Commerce Department released its report on spectrum, proposing that the U.S. government share, rather than auction, a specific band of airwaves with wireless providers who have complained that they are feeling a spectrum crunch.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration report said that a committee will work to find a way to share the 1755-1850 MHz band of spectrum “while maintaining essential federal capabilities and maximizing commercial utilization.”

“Spectrum is a finite resource in growing demand, and we need to focus on new ways to maximize its use,” said NTIA head Lawrence Strickling. “By working with the FCC, other federal agencies, and the industry, we can make more spectrum available to fuel innovation and preserve America’s technological leadership while protecting vital government missions.”

The report drew praise from wireless carriers, public interest groups and lawmakers, who said the proposal will help ease the strain on networks and make full use of the available spectrum.

Privacy hearing: The House subcommittee on trade will hold a hearing Thursday examining the effect of the White House’s proposal on privacy, asking “Does the President’s proposal tip the scale?”

Federal Trade Commission chairman John Leibowitz and NTIA head Lawrence Strickling will testify at the hearing, as will representatives from TechFreedom, the Online Publishers Associations, the Association for Competitive Technology, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and privacy expert Justin Brookman of the Center for Democracy and technology.

Google Europe: A European consumer group called for E.U. regulators to act against Google according to a report from The New York Times.

The European Consumers’ Organization wrote a letter to E.U. antitrust commission Joaquin Almunia alleging that Google “may have abused its position in the search market” to reap advantages for its own Web products, the report said.

House votes to pass FCC bill: The House voted to pass a bill that would limit the Federal Communication Commission’s authority to approve mergers and impose regulations on Tuesday afternoon, in a 274-174 vote.

On Monday, the White House came out against the bill, saying that it would unnecessarily hinder the agency.

The bill’s passage in the House drew praise from the telecom industry and criticism from public interest groups, but is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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