With help from John Hendel, Emily Birnbaum and Daniel Lippman
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— Tech alliance still in sight: The Biden administration says it expects to launch an international alliance to promote internet access in the coming weeks.
— FCC unveils data breach proposal: Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel is circulating a proposal to strengthen data breach protections for the customers of telecom service carriers.
— First in MT: House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans want a hearing to review broadband deployment programs overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
HAPPY PRE-FRIDAY! One more day after today until the three-day weekend, but you don’t have to take my word for it — just check out Sen. Roger Wicker’s cellphone ringtone. It’s Rebecca Kern again, your temporary Morning Tech hostess, so be sure to keep me in the loop with tips, events, scoops and funny memes on Twitter at @Rebeccamkern or via email at [email protected].
WHITE HOUSE PLANS FOR NEW TECH ALLIANCE — The Biden administration is getting closer to launching its proposed Alliance for the Future of the Internet. Administration officials originally hoped to launch this effort of “like-minded countries” in early December in tandem with the president’s Summit for Democracy. (Here’s a draft of the White House’s plans for alliance from the time.)
— Watch for a formal launch “in the coming weeks,” Ruth Berry, who directs digital technology policy at the National Security Council, said Wednesday during an event hosted by USTelecom and the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association.
One caveat she offered: “We are not proposing to reinvent or supplant existing good work being done in multi-stakeholder bodies that focus on the technical governance of the internet or the work being done to bring together the internet community.”
— The goal: “The alliance is really focused on governments making commitments regarding their actions on how they will behave with respect to the global internet and recommitting to the principles of competition, respect for human rights, multi-stakeholder approaches, closing the digital divide” and other issues, she told attendees.
She criticized authoritarian forces taking advantage of the open internet and lamented “worrying trends” like misinformation, market consolidation and malicious cyber activity — all issues that have created the need for “like-minded partners” to push back. She also explicitly dinged Chinese telecom giant Huawei as an untrustworthy 5G vendor.
— Next steps: Berry suggested that once the alliance is launched, there will be further global conversations about how to structure it. White House spokespeople declined to offer a more precise timeline for when the alliance may go online. The Chinese government has already condemned the proposal as having the potential to sunder the global internet (China’s own Great Firewall notwithstanding).
FCC CHAIR PROPOSES BREACH NOTIFICATION MANDATES — Rosenworcel shared a draft rulemaking Wednesday that would toughen requirements for telecommunication companies to notify customers when customer data has been breached.
— Existing rules “need updating to fully reflect the evolving nature of data breaches and the real-time threat they pose to affected consumers,” Rosenworcel said.
— The proposal includes: cutting the seven-day waiting period before notification, alerting customers of inadvertent breaches and requiring telecom carriers to notify FCC, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service of all reportable breaches.
— However, Rosenworcel would need the support of at least two other FCC commissioners to advance the rule — which would mean at least one Republican, given the agency’s current 2-2 partisan split.
MT EXCLUSIVE: GOP CALLS FOR NTIA OVERSIGHT — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans, led by committee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), wrote to Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and telecom subcommittee chair Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) in a letter dated Wednesday to request for a review of the appropriations NTIA has received for broadband deployment.
— House E&C hasn’t had an oversight hearing for NTIA since 2018, the Republicans write. The request comes a day after the Senate confirmed Alan Davidson to lead the Commerce Department agency in charge of administering $48 billion in new broadband investments.
— A Democratic House E&C spokesperson said the committee had “long planned” to have Davidson testify once he was confirmed. “We look forward to hearing from NTIA in the coming months.”
— The Republicans also want to review NTIA’s role in managing spectrum disputes between federal agencies, including on the recent 5G fight between the Federal Aviation Administration and the FCC.
COMING SOON: FULLER VERSION OF TEXAS-GOOGLE SUIT — A federal judge has cleared the way for the public to see a version of a Texas-led multistate antitrust suit targeting Google’s advertising business — this time, with far fewer details scrubbed out. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel told the plaintiffs in an order Wednesday to file the revised complaint by the end of the week.
TECH COMPANIES CALL FOR USICA PASSAGE — More than 40 tech companies, universities and nonprofits — including corporate giants like IBM and institutions like MIT and Brookhaven National Lab — wrote to members of the New York congressional delegation today to advocate for passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260), which the Senate passed last summer but has since stalled in the House. The organizations want funding for one bill folded into USICA, the CHIPS Act, which would establish a resource center for semiconductor chip innovation and production, and they want that center to be built in New York.
AMAZON SELLERS UNITE — Three Amazon sellers are urging half a million of their fellow U.S.-based vendors today to mobilize against antitrust legislation. “Like you, we partner with Amazon to help our customers quickly and easily purchase the products they want and need,” wrote Toyin Kolawole, Kerry Mellin and Kristin Rae in a letter out this morning. They said they each met their respective congressional representatives in the House and Senate “to discuss how proposed legislation jeopardizes Amazon’s ability to operate a marketplace for sellers” and remain worried that their concerns will be ignored.
— Sound familiar? Emily wrote last week about Amazon and Google’s strategy of deploying their small-business customers and other users to help fight antitrust bills. The Senate is eyeing a markup of antitrust legislation later this month, and Amazon set up an online form this week that generates automated emails to Congress opposing it. The sellers link to the form twice in today’s letter, urging others to make their “voices heard.”
The Business Roundtable announced its 2022 board of directors, chaired by General Motors CEO Mary Barra. Visa CEO Alfred Kelly will serve in a new role as the chair of the roundtable’s technology committee. Additionally, Apple CEO Tim Cook remains chair of the immigration committee. … Kathy Grannis Allen has joined Amazon’s D.C. office work across the devices PR team. She most recently was director of media relations at SalientMG. … Brad Greenberg just joined NPR as legislative counsel after previously serving as assistant general counsel for the U.S. Copyright Office.
Tech companies applaud Biden’s H-1B visa policy: The Biden administration has had a lower rate of denial of petitions for the highly skilled foreign worker visas often used by tech workers as compared with the Trump administration, Axios reports.
App-makers want balanced antitrust regs: Some of the antitrust legislation Congress is considering would compromise privacy and security features built into mobile apps, according to a white paper from ACT | The App Association, which represents more than 5,000 app developers.
Conversion therapy info remains online: Tech companies have failed to take down information about anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy from their platforms, according to two reports on the online conversion therapy ecosystem and the conversion therapy companies involved from the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism out today.
Way more screen time: Americans are spending a third of their waking hours on mobile apps during the pandemic, according to this report.
Instagram leapfrogs TikTok: Instagram was the most downloaded app from Apple’s store in Q4 of 2021, surpassing TikTok, largely due to India’s ban on TikTok, TechCrunch reports.
Federal tech fund lacks a plan, GAO says: The Technology Modernization Fund — which allocates money to agencies to update their IT systems — apparently lacks a plan for implementing $1 billion in congressional appropriations, the Government Accountability Office says.
Alphabet tops ESG ranking list: Google’s parent company was ranked No. 1 by investing research nonprofit Just Capital’s annual guide to U.S. companies with the strongest environmental, social and governance metrics.
Twitter makes diversity hiring gains: An internal Twitter report shows the tech giant increased its hiring of women, Black and Latinx employees from last year, Protocol reports.
Tech groups push for privacy bill: Tech trade groups and 81 members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter today calling for Congress to pass a comprehensive federal privacy bill.
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