Capitol Hill Roundup for the Week of December 3, 2018

This week on Capitol Hill, the Senate appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on efforts leading to advanced nuclear reactor technology while the Senate rules committee will consider a bill that would amend the nomination process and the required qualifications for the Register of Copyrights. Over in the House of Representatives, hearings on artificial intelligence applications for national defense, Google’s data collection practices and a recently passed bill for bridging the digital divide will also take place this week.

Tuesday, December 4th

Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
Business Meeting to Consider S. 1010 to Provide Additional Responsibilities for the Register of Copyrights

At 11:00 AM on Tuesday in 301 Russell Senate Office Building. In May 2017, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced S. 1010, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act. The bill would amend Title 17 of U.S. Code, which covers federal copyright law, which would require that the Register of Copyrights is appointed from a list of individuals recommended by a panel including the Speaker of the House, the President pro tempore of the Senate, majority and minority leaders in both houses of Congress and the Librarian of Congress. The bill would also require the Register of Copyrights to have experience in copyright law and to be capable of supervising a chief information officer responsible for managing modern IT systems. The Senate rules committee previously held a hearing on this bill in late September of this year.

Wednesday, December 5th

House Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Department of Defense’s Artificial Intelligence Structure, Investments, and Applications

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday. In late June, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan formally ordered the creation of a new research hub for artificial intelligence to be known as the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). The JAIC, overseen by Dana Deasy, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) chief information officer, is intended to enable research teams across the DoD to support the agency’s military and business functions through experimentation with and delivery of AI-enabled capabilities. In early September, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced investments of up to $2 billion over five years on AI-related programs, especially those exploring how machines can develop human-like reasoning and communication. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dana Deasy as well as Dr. Lisa Porter, Deputy Undersecretary for Defense for Research and Engineering.

House Judiciary Committee
Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building. In August, a study from a Vanderbilt University professor which was commissioned by Digital Content Next looked at the type of data mined by Internet giant Google from its Android users when the Chrome browser is running in the background. The study found that Chrome sent data back to Google servers an average of 14 times per hour and there were twice as many passive data collection events involving data created without interacting with Google services than data collection events involving data created through active use of Google services. In late November, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons requested more resources and civil penalty authority regarding consumer issues related to data privacy at an FTC oversight hearing held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The sole witness for this hearing will be Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO.

Senate Committee on Appropriations
Review the Future of Nuclear Power: Advanced Reactors

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building. In early June, the Department of Energy (DoE) announced the creation of a new Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) program to develop innovative technologies for advanced nuclear reactors, including $24 million in funding for 10 research projects. A few weeks later, the DoE announced an additional $64 million in funding for 89 nuclear energy research projects, including $47 million for 63 research projects led by U.S. universities. The witness panel for this hearing includes Edward McGinnis, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, DoE; Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Dr. Christina Back, Vice President, Nuclear Technologies and Materials, Energy Group, General Atomics.

Thursday, December 6th

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
RAY BAUM’S Act: A Bipartisan Foundation for Bridging the Digital Divide

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 2123 Rayburn. This March, the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services (RAY BAUM’S) Act of 2018 reauthorized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the 2019-20 fiscal years and, among other things, authorizes an evaluation of federal and nonfederal spectrum and determine ways of improving broadband Internet access using unlicensed spectrum to increase availability in low-income neighborhoods and other underserved groups. The witness panel for this hearing will include Curtis LeGeyt, Executive Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of Broadcasters; Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs, Competitive Carriers Association; Jeff Cohen, Chief Counsel, APCO International; and Bohdan Zachary, General Manager, Milwaukee Public Broadcast Station.


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