FCC to Vote on Television Set-Up Boxes

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LEDE The Federal Communications Commission is about to vote on its reforms to the market for television set-top boxes after months of interest group lobbying and congressional cajoling.

The five commissioners are scheduled to vote Thursday on the item, with key questions still outstanding.

Under the rules pay television providers would be required to create applications through which customers could watch live programming. Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed that the commission have oversight of the licenses between the providers and device manufacturers.

That hasn’t gone over well with the industry, which has pushed back forcefully. Their congressional allies have done the same. Most significantly, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has said that she doesn’t believe the agency has the authority to pursue the proposal as written. That puts Wheeler under pressure to change the proposal in a way that can win her crucial vote, or that of other skeptics on the commission.

Some Democrats made a last-minute plea Tuesday for the FCC to back the reforms.

ALERTS ARE ON THE AGENDA, TOO: The commission will also consider an agenda item meant to update the Wireless Emergency Alerts system.

Last week, an FCC official said that the item was slated to expand the length of the alerts from 90 to 360 characters and allow them to add links to AMBER alerts for missing children, among other changes.

But the bombing in New York City two weekends ago changed the dynamic in the weeks before the vote.

New York officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, have written to Wheeler asking him to quickly approve changes so that officials can send add multimedia and links to the emergency alerts. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to advance that proposal. But CTIA, the wireless trade group, did recently submit a filing pushing back on the addition of links to all alert types.

STILL AHEAD FOR THE COMMISSION: This probably won’t be the last contentious meeting we have at the FCC this year. Wheeler’s broadband privacy proposal is still on the docket — and faces significant industry opposition. Also outstanding are his reforms to the market for so-called special access contracts, internet deals for businesses with special data needs. Here’s the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.
Please send your tips, comments and stray observations to David McCabe (dmccabe@thehill.com) and Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @dmccabe, @alibreland and @HilliconValley.
TRUMP POWWOW: Donald Trump’s transition team will meet next week with representatives of the tech industry, multiple sources confirmed, even as their candidate largely has been largely shunned by Silicon Valley. The meeting, scheduled for next Thursday at the offices of law and lobbying firm BakerHostetler, will include trade groups like the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association that represent major Silicon Valley companies, according to people briefed on the meeting. The groups represent companies like Google and Facebook, among others.
RURAL BROADBAND: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) are introducing legislation to improve broadband in rural areas by offering new grants and loans to finance infrastructure improvements. According to FCC statistics, 34 million Americans do not have access to high speed internet, including 40 percent of people in rural and tribal areas.
HEAR ME OUT: Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), the top Dem on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants a hearing on the Yahoo breach. Leahy joined other Dems on Tuesday in a letter to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer demanding answers on why the company did not disclose the 2014 hack to the public sooner. Asked if the senator wanted top Yahoo officials to testify before Congress, a committee aide told The Hill that he “hopes” there will be a hearing. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) gets the final word on a hearing, though, and his office hasn’t said anything yet.

Anger is mounting on Capitol Hill over the hack that saw data from 500 million Yahoo users compromised. A report in The New York Times Wednesday also raised troubling questions about the company’s commitment to cybersecurity.

CR MOVES IN SENATE WITHOUT INTERNET MEASURES: A short-term government funding bill passed in the Senate on Wednesday without a measure to block the Obama administration from handing off oversight of the internet domain naming system to an international body. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had sought to use the funding measure to block the internet transition but Senate Republicans left it out of the bill.
APPLE + DELOITTE: Apple and Deloitte announced a new partnership on Wednesday. The consulting group will help clients work with Apple products, reportsReuters, a move that could in turn help the tech giant boost enterprise sales. “The intent there is to, in one location, bring the best engineers, the best products and the best thinkers to try and address clients’ problems,” Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global, said to Reuters.
ON TAP:

At 8:30 a.m. Ted Dean from the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration will speak at a Microsoft event on internet fragmentation.

At 10:30 a.m. the FCC will hold its September open meeting.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

According to a New York Times report, after a hack six years ago, Yahoo did not prioritize security measures in the way its competitors did, leaving it open to vulnerabilities.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) want the FCC to approve new set-top box rules.

The European Union is considering controversial cybersecurity export rules, however the U.S. is trying to renegotiate the terms of the updates.

The House’s vote on holding the former State Department staffer responsible for setting up Hillary Clinton’s private email server in contempt of Congress will wait until after the elections.

The FBI found no evidence that either Hillary Clinton or her aides ordered an IT technician to delete an email archive that was under congressional subpoena, Director James Comey testified Wednesday.

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