Lawmakers Go to School on Wi-Fi and Urge Online Privacy Rights

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The Senate also finally passed a bill to change the name of DHS’ cybersecurity agency.

Reps. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., created a new congressional caucus to explore Wi-Fi policy issues Thursday.

The group would educate lawmakers on the role of Wi-Fi in relation to emerging technologies like the internet of things, 5G, cybersecurity and autonomous vehicles.

“The integral role that Wi-Fi plays in our telecommunication infrastructure positively affects our economy, American businesses, consumers, and our way of life,” Latta said in a statement.

Know Your Rights

Consumers should have the right to know how companies are using and sharing their personal data and to opt-in anytime their data is shared with a third party, according to an Internet Bill of Rights, authored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., released Thursday.

Khanna drafted the document, which is based on an Obama-era privacy bill of rights, after consulting with more than a dozen Silicon Valley companies and internet privacy advocacy groups.

“The internet age and digital revolution have changed Americans' way of life,” Khanna said in a statement. “As our lives and the economy are more tied to the internet, it is essential to provide Americans with basic protections online.”

Senate Says Nyet to NPPD

The Senate voted Wednesday to update the clunky name of the Homeland Security Department’s cybersecurity division—a change the department has sought since the Obama administration.

The division previously known as the National Protection and Programs Directorate, or NPPD, will, in future, be known as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, under the Senate bill. Chris Krebs, the undersecretary who leads the division, has long joked the old titled sounded more appropriate for a “Soviet-era intelligence agency.”

The House, which passed a version of the bill last year, must still pass the updated version.

Bad Drones Beware

The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would give law enforcement agencies broad authority to protect against malicious drones.

The Preventing Emerging Threats Act, introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., authorizes the Homeland Security and Justice departments to take action to protect buildings and other critical infrastructure against threats from unmanned aircraft. The legislation also requires Homeland Security to examine the threats drones pose to airports, private property and government infrastructure.

Last month the NFL came out in support of the bill. It now awaits the president’s signature.

Keep the Indictments Coming

Lawmakers praised Justice Department indictments Thursday against Russian hackers who were charged with hacking and leaking Olympic athletes’ drug tests and probes into Russia’s use of chemical weapons.

“Today’s charges further highlight the illegal and aggressive tactics Russia uses to undermine international institutions and wage disinformation campaigns,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a joint statement.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said he was “heartened by the coordinated international effort over the past 24 hours to call out [the Russian intelligence agency’s] malicious cyber campaigns.”

Let’s Chat About Those Chips

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., meanwhile asked Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for a briefing on a Bloomberg Businessweek report that China had designed imperfections into computer chips that made their way into Apple and Amazon products and could be used to spy on Americans.

Apple and Amazon have denied the report, which has not been confirmed by other media.

Peters is seeking any information the Pentagon has about the alleged vulnerabilities and how they might affect Defense systems.

Coming Up

After a long weekend, lawmakers are in for a pretty light tech week.

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday., the Senate Homeland Security Committee will meet for its threats to the homeland hearing.

At 10 a.m., the Senate Commerce Committee will explore the implications of Europe’s General Data Privacy Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee will examine cryptocurrency and the blockchain ecosystem.