This Week on Capitol Hill: Copyright Office Oversight, Threats to the Trademark System and Big Tech Antitrust Issues

By IPWatchdog
July 15, 2019

This week features a busy schedule of hearings on Capitol Hill involving technology, innovation and intellectual property topics. In the House of Representatives, the House Financial Services Committee will get their chance to vet Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, while other hearings focus on wireless spectrum policy, antitrust issues posed by Internet platforms, as well as issues facing the U.S. trademark system, including counterfeits and register cluttering. In the Senate, Google censorship, oversight of the U.S. Copyright Office and NASA’s plans to send a manned mission to Mars will be under the microscope. Elsewhere, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation explores the current state of robotics and how they can help American productivity.

Tuesday, July 16

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

The Legacy of Apollo

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

On July 16, 1969, the Saturn V space rocket carrying the Apollo 11 mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, sending astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the world’s first manned mission to the moon. This hearing takes place 50 years to the day that the Apollo 11 mission took off from the Earth’s surface. The witness panel includes Charles Fishman, Author, One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon; Dr. David Miller, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, The Aerospace Corporation; Dr. Peter Jakab, Chief Curator, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 

Business Meeting to Consider Pending Legislation 

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Senate Energy Committee will convene a business hearing to look at several pieces of proposed legislation, including a few which relate to advanced technologies such as S. 903, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, and S. 1052, the Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies Act.

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs 

Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 216 Hart Senate Office Building.

Social media giant Facebook recently announced its plans to release a global cryptocurrency in 2020 under the name Libra but a coalition of Democrats led by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters has publicly pushed back against Facebook’s plans and asked the tech company to delay Libra’s release until privacy, national security and monetary policy concerns can be vetted by the Committee. The sole witness for this hearing is David Marcus, Head of Calibra, Facebook.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation 

The State of Robotics Innovation in America: A Key Driver of Productivity and Competitiveness

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2168 Rayburn.

Productivity in the U.S. economy has been in a slump for about 10 years while large numbers of retiring Americans further intensify the need to improve the nation’s productivity. This hearing will explore the state of robotics development in the U.S., including chief technological challenges and the role of the U.S. government in supporting robotics adoption. This event will include remarks by Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA) to be followed by a discussion with a panel including Jeff Burnstein, President, Association for Advancing Automation; Eric Krotkov, Chief Science Officer, Toyota Research Institute; Collin Sebastian, Head of Software Products and Engineering, SoftBank Robotics America; Stuart Shepherd, Regional Sales Director – Americas, Universal Robots; and David Vasko, Director of Advanced Technology, Rockwell Automation. The panel discussion will be moderated by Robert Atkinson, President, ITIF.

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology 

Our Wireless Future: Building a Comprehensive Approach to Spectrum Policy

At 10:30 AM on Tuesday in 2322 Rayburn.

Next-generation data technologies such as 5G networks will require more effective administration of the nation’s electromagnetic spectrum. While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) manages the commercial use of spectrum, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) manages federal uses of the nation’s spectrum and this hearing will explore the agencies’ efforts to make spectrum more available to stakeholders. The first witness panel for this hearing will include Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC; and Derek Khlopin, Senior Policy Advisor, NTIA. The second witness panel for this hearing will include Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs, Competitive Carriers Association; Peter Pitsch, Head of Advocacy and Government Relations, C-Band Alliance; Scott Bergman, Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs, CTIA; Michael Calabrese, Open Technology Institute; Mariel Triggs, CEO, MuralNet; and Jeffrey Cohen, Chief Counsel, APCO International.

House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law 

Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 2: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday in 2141 Rayburn.

In recent months, there have been a growing number of voices calling for increased regulation of America’s Internet tech giants, some of which have gone as far as advocating for the forced breakup of those companies under U.S. antitrust law. While the witness panel for this hearing, which will explore innovation and entrepreneurship issues posed by these companies’ platforms, isn’t posted on the House Judiciary Committee’s website, CNBC reports that the following tech executives will testify: Adam Cohen, Director of Economic Policy, Google; Nate Sutton, Associate General Counsel, Amazon; Matt Perault, Head of Global Policy Development, Facebook; and Kyle Andeer, Chief Compliance Office, Amazon.

Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution 

Google and Censorship Through Search Engines 

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in 226 Dirksen.

Google’s alleged censorship of conservative viewpoints via the company’s search engine has been a topic of much focus for Senate Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz (R-TX). While the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website hasn’t published the witness panel yet, The Hill reports that witnesses at the hearing will include Karan Bhatia, Vice President of Public Policy, Google; and Dennis Prager, Co-Founder, PragerU.


Wednesday, July 17

Senate Special Committee on Aging 

Combatting Robocall Fraud: Using Telecom Advances and Law Enforcement to Stop Scammers and Protect Seniors

At 9:30 AM on Wednesday in 562 Dirksen.

In early July, the Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert warning American citizens about the growing risk of robocall scams that fraudulently claim to be coming from the Social Security Administration. The witness panel for this hearing will include Angela Stancik, Granddaughter of Scam Victim; Jerry Sanders, Sheriff of Delaware County, PA; Delany De Leon-Colon, Postal Inspector In Charge, Criminal Investigation Unit, U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and David Frankel, Telecommunications Consultant. 

House Committee on Financial Services 

Examining Facebook’s Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2128 Rayburn.

This hearing will give the House Financial Services Committee and Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) the opportunity to explore issues related to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency. The witness panel hasn’t been announced yet.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

Moon to Mars: NASA’s Plans for Deep Space Exploration

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 216 Hart.

This hearing will explore future plans for NASA’s human spaceflight program, including the Artemis Program, which involves a return of manned missions to the Moon by 2024 to support the space agency’s goal of sending a manned mission to Mars sometime in the 2030s. The sole witness for this hearing is the Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, NASA.

House Subcommittee on Government Operations 

To the Cloud! The Cloudy Role of FedRAMP in IT Modernization 

At 11:00 AM on Wednesday in 2154 Rayburn.

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) provides a standardized approach for assessing security risks and monitoring cloud computing products and services which are acquired by the federal government. In late June, the White House released an updated cloud policy which instructs federal agencies to reuse authorizations in order to reduce the workload on FedRAMP in the acquisition process. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.

House Subcommittee on Energy 

The Future of Electricity Delivery: Modernizing and Securing Our Nation’s Electricity Grid

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn.

The nation’s electricity grid is considered to be quite outdated and the 2017 report card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave only a D+ grade to the U.S. energy infrastructure owing to the age of electrical transmission and distribution lines. The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Karen Evans, Assistant Secretary, Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, U.S. Department of Energy; Juan Torres, Co-Chair, Grid Modernization Lab Consortium and Association Laboratory Director, Energy Systems Integration, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO, Energy Storage Association; and Katherine Hamilton, Chair, 38 North Solutions and Executive Director, Advanced Energy Management Alliance.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property 

Oversight of the United States Copyright Office

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Copyright Office has designated the membership of the mechanical licensing collective charged with administering blanket licenses under the terms of the Music Modernization Act and submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee asking Congress to let statutory licensing for satellite providers offering local programing through rural providers to expire by allowing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) to sunset this year without renewal. The sole witness at this hearing will be Karyn Temple, Register of Copyrights and Director, U.S. Copyright Office.

Thursday, July 18

House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet

Counterfeits and Cluttering: Emerging Threats to the Integrity of the Trademark System and the Impact on American Consumers and Businesses

At 9:00 AM on Thursday in 2141 Rayburn.

Major issues facing the U.S. trademark system today include counterfeits of branded products, which present a multi-billion dollar drain on the economy, as well as the cluttering of the U.S. trademark register by marks that are no longer used or were registered without any commercial use. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Executive Business Meeting

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 226 Dirksen.

On Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will convene a business meeting to discuss several district judge appointments and a pair of proposed pieces of legislation, including S. 1273, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, which would establish an alternative dispute resolution program for copyright small claims under $30,000 in damages.

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