Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner

LEDE: There are multiple holds on the re-nomination of Democratic Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said that a lawmaker or lawmakers had placed a hold on her nomination to a second term on the commission — but wasn’t willing to discuss who was behind the hold.

“I have an idea, there are a couple of them, but I probably, that’s kind of one of those things you’re not supposed to know,” he said. “I think that my staff probably knows but I’m not certain, so I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus.”

{mosads}A Commerce Committee spokesperson confirmed that there were multiple holds on the nomination but declined to comment on who placed them.

Thune said that disagreement with the FCC’s net neutrality order might be “one issue” holding up her nomination, but he noted that there were many issues pending before the FCC that some lawmakers might take issue with. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who was behind a report this week claiming that the White House pressured the FCC on its net neutrality rules, said on Wednesday that the hold wasn’t his.

“I don’t believe it’s my hold, no,” he told reporters. An aide said that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the number two Republican in the Senate and a co-sponsor of a bill repealing the net neutrality rules, was not behind the hold. A spokesperson said that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), another co-sponsor, was likewise not the source of the hold.

Thune also said that if Chairman Tom Wheeler publicly committed to leaving his post in January (he declined to do so at a Wednesday hearing that had him seated next to Rosenworcel), it could loosen some of the holds on her nomination.

“Well, like I said, we support her confirmation but we do have, there are some holds in the Senate on that nomination, and it would certainly, I suspect, be helpful if he had been a little bit more forward leaning and affirmative in that in helping get some of those holds lifted.”

NELSON CRIES FOUL ON NOMINATION: Senate Commerce Commmitteee ranking member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) showed some irritation with the fact that Rosenworcel’s nomination has yet to be approved. He said that Democrats had agreed to move forward with Republican Michael O’Rielly’s nomination without a corresponding Democrat on the condition Republicans would move Rosenworcel.

“Sen. McConnell promised Sen. Reid, and I am getting this straight from Sen. Harry Reid, and promised then-chairman Jay Rockefeller, that they would move the Rosenworcel nomination without delay in the new Congress if the Democrats in the last Congress … agreed to move commissioner O’Rielly’s nomination,” he said at Wednesday’s hearing.

WHEELER MUM ON PRIVACY TIMING: Wheeler, at the hearing, was asked when the agency would do a rulemaking on Internet service provider privacy. “I hope it’s very soon, and that includes this month,” he said, smiling a little.

FTC TECHNOLOGIST THROWS COLD WATER ON PASSWORD CHANGES: The Federal Trade Commission’s chief technologist on Wednesday wrote that it may not be beneficial to make users change their passwords frequently. Lorrie Cranor, penned a blog, highlighting studies that found that people who are required to change passwords regularly select wearier passwords and change them in predictable ways.

“Unless there is reason to believe a password has been compromised or shared, requiring regular password changes may actually do more harm than good in some cases,” she wrote.   

SCHMIDT TO HELP OUT PENTAGON: Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, will lead a Defense Department advisory board that is aimed at bringing some of Silicon Valley’s talent to the Pentagon, according to Reuters. The board will be made up of a dozen people.

FACEBOOK EXEC RELEASED IN BRAZIL: Brazil authorities released Diego Dzodan, Facebook’s Latin America vice president, after detaining him a day earlier because WhatsApp — which is owned by Facebook — refused to hand over information relevant to a sealed investigation, according to The New York Times. A judge Wednesday overturned the previous order. A day earlier WhatsApp said it did not have the information, and Facebook noted it operates separately from WhatsApp, calling the detention “extreme and disproportionate.”

 

ON TAP:

At 10 a.m. the Senate Commerce Committee will mark up the MOBILE NOW Act.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

President Obama on Wednesday phoned NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who returned to Earth on Tuesday after spending a record-breaking year in space.

A disagreement between Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai over net neutrality became heated during a congressional hearing Wednesday.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler said Wednesday that he would not make an “ironclad commitment” to step down under a new president during an awkward exchange with a top Republican lawmaker.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will headline the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival later this month to promote participation in politics and girls’ education.

A Justice Department website where voters can fill out election complaints received a temporary surge in traffic Wednesday morning — one day after states held their presidential primaries on Super Tuesday.

 

 

Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@digital-stage.thehill.com and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@digital-stage.thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @HilliconValley@dmccabe@_mariotrujillo

 

Tags Bill Nelson Harry Reid Jay Rockefeller John Cornyn John Thune Michelle Obama Ron Johnson Tom Cotton

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