Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Email privacy bill gets its day

LEDE: The House is heading toward overwhelming approval of a bill that would ensure that law enforcement gets a warrant before forcing technology companies to hand over customer emails, no matter how old they are.

The bill to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is slated for a suspension vote on Wednesday, and Speaker Paul Ryan is fully on board — blasting out an emoji-filled press release calling the vote “long overdue.”

A group of nearly 70 tech giants, trade groups and privacy advocates sent a letter to lawmakers calling for “immediate passage without any amendments,” and the prominent Information Technology Industry Council said it will score lawmakers’ positions on its congressional voting guide. The bill has public backing from 315 members of the House, and any “no” votes will be closely tracked.

{mosads}SENATE UP NEXT?: Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday said he would wait for the House vote before deciding how to proceed with the upper chamber’s email privacy bill. In the past Grassley has been sensitive to law enforcement and civil agency concerns with the legislation, but he said, “I think there’s a lot of interest in taking it up.”

HOUSE E&C TEES UP BILLS: The House Energy and Commerce Committee began the process of marking up 22 different bills, several of them related to communications, on Tuesday evening. The committee will consider several public safety bills and three FCC process bills. “We’ve seen time and again that much for the agency’s work occurs behind closed doors, with little public insight into the decision making and operations at the FCC,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in his opening statement. Ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said Republicans had “pulled a last minute switch” for the bills. “I don’t understand why the Republicans need to make a mockery of our own procedures every time they want to talk about the FCC’s process,” he said. The markup picks up again at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. http://1.usa.gov/1rgnYc8

ABSENT FROM THE MARKUP: The bill putting a hard budget cap on the Lifeline, which provides phone and broadband subsidies for consumers.

Upton wasn’t eager on Tuesday night to share details on why the Lifeline bill had been kept off the agenda. “Well, it got a little contentious,” he said. “There are a lot of amendments, we’re trying to have smooth sailing, so we’ll see.”

Pallone said he was “happy” that the bill wouldn’t be marked up. For more on the divisions, click here.

OVER IN THE SENATE:” The Commerce Committee will consider Chairman John Thune’s (R-S.D.) FCC reauthorization bill and the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act, among other legislation. The markup starts at 10:15 a.m. http://1.usa.gov/1qREChZ

TECH EXECS COMING TO CONGRESS: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will host a closed-door talk Wednesday for GOP senators that will include executives from Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, Google and others associated with the TechNet trade group. Topics being discussed will include immigration, intellectual property, trade, and computer science in schools.

APPLE SEES SALES DROP: The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple’s quarterly sales dropped for the first time since 2013, according to the company’s first quarter earnings report. The WSJ noted that “Apple said net income in its fiscal second quarter totaled $10.52 billion, or $1.90 a share, compared with $13.57 billion, or $2.33 a share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue declined 13% to $50.55 billion from $58 billion.”

THE HILL EVENT: Join us on Tuesday, May 10 for Internet of Things: The Next Frontier in Tech Innovation. Policymakers & industry leaders will discuss public-private partnerships for developing and implementing cutting-edge mobile technologies, and the policies and regulations necessary to ensure the security of these new tools. Sponsored by Visa. RSVP here.

WSJ SAYS FTC EXTENDING ANDROID PROBE: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Trade Commission is continuing an examination of the prevalence of Google’s Android smartphone operating system. The agency has reportedly contacted companies and is said to be pursuing a line of investigation similar to the one taken by European regulators, who formally charged the company last week with using restrictive contracts with smartphone manufacturers.

PRESSURE SPURS AMAZON CHANGE IN BOSTON: Amazon told the Boston Globe it would begin providing same-day Prime delivery service to every neighborhood in Boston in the coming weeks after mounting pressure from lawmakers and residents over the current exclusion of one neighborhood there that is predominantly African American. Amazon says it does not take those demographics into account, but it has been under increasing pressure after Bloomberg published an analysis about the neighborhoods that Amazon includes and excludes from its same-day shipping service.



At 11:30 a.m., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others will host a panel to talk about innovation in the private sector and government.

At noon, the House will take up a number of bills on suspension of the rules, including the Email Privacy Act.



Activists will deliver a petition with over 400,000 signatures to Google’s headquarters on Thursday asking the company to refrain from sponsoring the Republican National Convention should Donald Trump become the party’s presidential nominee.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) is pressing Amazon for answers on how it decides which neighborhoods to include in its same-day delivery service.

Top lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked major telecom providers on Tuesday to brief them on a security vulnerability in the global cellphone network.

The Department of Transportation needs to establish a more detailed plan to help automakers respond to the threat of cyberattacks on vehicles, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

High-profile tech companies developing self-driving car technology are teaming up with Ford and Volvo in a new coalition to press their case with policymakers.


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 Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Ed Markey John Thune Orrin Hatch Paul Ryan

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