Net Neutrality Fight Returns to the Hill


Plus lawmakers want to know what the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is doing about Equifax and what 's delaying the Veterans Affairs Department's health record purchase.

Senate Democrats plan on forcing another vote on net neutrality.

“We have the signatures. On May 9th, we officially file the petition to force a vote on the Senate floor to save #NetNeutrality,” Sen. Ed Markey, D- Mass., tweeted April 30.

Markey and the other senators are using the Congressional Review Act—special rules that allow Congress to vote on recently passed regulations—to force a vote on the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order. They want to repeal that order, which transferred most of the FCC’s regulatory authority over the internet back the Federal Trade Commission. It also rolled back the rules prohibiting internet service providers from prioritizing or charging for access to certain websites.

If the Democrat's CRA vote is successful, it would also prevent revisiting the rule in the future, but this effort faces unlikely odds in the House.

Many web companies including Reddit, Mozilla, Tumblr, Etsy and Vimeo on May 9 plan on raising awareness of the Senate vote with an online campaign called Red Alert. Organized by Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund, they aim to plaster website and social media with bright red alerts supporting repeal.

Securing Campaigns

The Democratic National Committee launched an online marketplace Monday aimed at connecting Democratic candidates with curated tech and cybersecurity tools.

The “I Will Run” marketplace has a twofold goal, according to a Medium post by DNC tech manager Sally Marx. First, the committee wants to sort out which tech tools are truly useful for candidates and which are snake oil. Second, the DNC wants to make it easier for tech entrepreneurs to get their tools in front of campaigns that can use them.  

I Will Run includes digital, finance, research, security and voter contact tools, as well as contact information for training organizations, according to the post.

Is CFPB AWOL on Equifax?

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau received more than 20,000 complaints related to the credit-rating agency Equifax in the six months following the company's massive breach that compromised information about more than 140 million Americans, according to a report released Monday by three Democratic senators.

Despite that volume of complaints, the CFPB may not be doing enough to advocate for consumers damaged by the breach, the report from Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, suggests.

The report urges CFPB to “act quickly and aggressively to hold Equifax accountable.”

Approprops of Cybersecurity

The House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security panel should step up its cybersecurity oversight, according to a Monday report from member Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.

Key focus areas should include: the threat of adversary nations stealing U.S. government hacking tools, cyber threats against industrial control systems and ways to surge information sharing about cyber threats within industry sectors, the report states.

Ruppersberger, who was formerly the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, also wants the panel to hold a cyber-focused budget hearing.

What’s the holdup at VA?

Two Democrats on the House Veterans Affairs Committee want answers about why it’s taking so long to finalize a contract for VA’s new $16 billion electronic health record system, according to a letter to the department’s acting secretary and inspector general.

That system is meant to finally allow VA and the Defense Department to share patient information seamlessly. Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., ranking member on the VA Committee’s health panel, and Annie Kuster, D-N.H., ranking member on the investigations panel, are concerned friends of the president are trying to kill the deal, according to the letter.

Coming Up

Here’s your rundown of tech and cyber happenings on the Hill this week.

The House Oversight Committee will get an update on preparations for the 2020 census at 10 a.m. Tuesday. At the same time, a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation panel will be briefed on efforts to work unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace from Federal Aviation Administration's UAS lead Earl Lawrence and industry experts. Senate Energy and Natural Resources holds a full committee hearing on the status of Puerto Rico’s power grid with officials from the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers.

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Also at 10 a.m. Wednesday, two House Oversight panels will hear about a plan to improve the integrity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps. The plans include a database to spot recipients who are enrolled in more than one state, which critics say raises privacy concerns.