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OVERNIGHT TECH: Telecom Subpanel Tackles Cybersecurity

February 7, 2012

By Brendan Sasso and Gautham Nagesh

THE LEDE: The House Energy and Commerce telecom subpanel will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on the cybersecurity threat to the nation’s communications networks. The House has recently begun to move on cybersecurity legislation that would enhance information sharing between the government and private sector about cybersecurity threats and attacks. The various committees of jurisdiction have been considering separate bills that will likely be consolidated before a floor vote.

Two of the witnesses scheduled to appear have already spoken out against sweeping new security regulations for critical infrastructure providers, as proposed in the Senate and White House comprehensive cybersecurity plans. Juniper Networks vice president of government affairs Bob Dix and Internet Security Alliance President Larry Clinton will likely tell the panel to push for information sharing and industry incentives over new security regulations overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. The hearing also features Center for Strategic and International Studies Director James Lewis and representatives from McAfee and Entrust.

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Google launches mobile version of Chrome: Google launched a mobile version of its popular Chrome browser on Tuesday that is available for phones using its Android 4.0 operating system.

The browser will allow users to transfer information, such as tabs and bookmarks, from their desktops to their mobile phones.

“Like the desktop version, Chrome for Android Beta is focused on speed and simplicity, but it also features seamless sign-in and sync so you can take your personalized web browsing experience with you wherever you go, across devices,” Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post.

For now, the browser is only available on phones running the Android 4.0 operating system, which includes only a handful of models, such as the Galaxy Nexus.

The Chrome app is available for download, and is not currently bundled in the Android operating system. Microsoft’s years long antitrust battle with the Justice Department revolved primarily around the company bundling its Internet Explorer browser in Windows. Apple bundles its Safari browser as part of iOS on iPhones.

The Federal Trade Commission is currently probing Google for its own potential antitrust violations.

FCC release Lifeline order: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday released its 326-page order to overhaul its Lifeline program, which helps poor Americans afford landline phone service.

The commission voted last week for the changes, which aim to root out fraud and abuse in the multibillion-dollar subsidy.

The order creates a database to ensure multiple companies are not receiving subsidies to provide service to the same customer and sets national eligibility standards for the program. The commission also established a pilot program to use some of the funds to expand broadband Internet access. The commission says the changes will save $2 billion over three years.

“We’ve preserved a vital part of the safety net: affordable access to a phone to find a job, track down a child, or call 9-1-1,” Sharon Gillett, chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau, wrote in a blog post. “We’ve kept program costs in line. And we’ve looked ahead, beginning to orient the program to the broadband future. In my book, that’s what smart government is all about.”

ICYMI:

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology reported a bill Tuesday that would update the government’s investment plan for network and information technology.

LightSquared asked the FCC to set tough technical standards for the design of GPS devices.

The FCC is seeking to commission a study of the public’s information needs so the agency can better meet its obligations.

President Obama took Tuesday’s White House Science Fair as an opportunity to announce his multimillion-dollar plan to improve the nation’s science and math education programs, a move he said that will “get America in shape to win the future.”

Fewer people are following presidential campaign news than they did four years ago, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

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