tv The Communicators CSPAN February 8, 2016 8:00am-8:32am EST
>> "the communicators" previews big tech stories for 2016. then we take you on the road to the white house with ben carson at a volunteer meet and greet in manchester, new hampshire. later, live coverage of a town hall meeting with chris christie in new hampshire, and the senate is in at two p.m. today. they'll debate a nomination over a u.s. district judge for iowa. >> c-span, created by america's cable companies 35 years ago and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. >> host: and this week on "the communicators," a look at some
of the issues that will be faced by the tech community, congress and the federal government in 2016. we have a round table of working reporters to talk with. corey bennett is with the hill, he covers cybersecurity there. kate tummarello works for politico and covers technology, and lydia beyoud is with bloomberg bna. lydia, one of the big issues coming up are the spectrum auctions in march. what can we expect? >> guest: march 29th is the official kickoff date for broadcasters to relinquish some of their spectrum. they'll be looking to either go out of business or possibly enter into channel-sharing agreements with their colleagues, and a few months after that potentially that'll wrap up, and we'll see the wireless bidder side start, and we're looking at other potential bidders as well such as comcast announced today they might also be bidding for some of that broadcast spectrum. so it'll be several months of
close attention on the fcc and its auction. >> host: and you say several months, so most of 2016 we'll be talking about the spectrum auctions or looking at it? >> guest: fcc officials have said they're looking at the auction closing sometime in the third quarter this year. >> host: closing in the third quarter. kate tummarello, is there interest on the hill in the auctions? >> guest: tons of interest. auctions and in spectrum in general. you've seen a lot of lawmakers ramp up their activity in this area because all their constituents want faster cell phone networks. so the house commerce committee and the senate commerce committee with senator john thune is interested in pushing his bill. and, you know, he's been very eager to move that. it's been delayed twice now in mark-up, so hopefully he wants to move in the next few weeks. >> host: why the delay? >> guest: i think there's been
some concern in the administration that the defense department doesn't want to give up all the -- >> host: so he's looking at government spectrum. >> guest: yeah. they're the big holder of spectrum once the broadcasters give up their stuff, and the defense department has a lot of it, and they tend to be very quiet about what they do with it because of national security concerns. i think there's been a lot of push and pull and give and take between the telecom and the defense communities to find the happy medium where people can get the spectrum they need without sacrificing capabilities. >> host: lydia beyoud, how will the spectrum auctions change our lives as consumers? >> guest: i think for consumers on the broadcast side, the goal is that you won't notice much different. technology developments after we did the digital tv transition have made it such that that should be fairly seamless. the real hope for innovation opportunity is on the wireless side with potentially maybe some new competitors in the wireless market or, just as kate
mentioned, much faster video speeds. by 2020 a lot of telecom companies are talking about bringing into existence the fifth generation, 5g networks that are really going to power the internet of things, and the incentive auctions are viewed as sort of a critical platform for getting them in the pipeline to be able to do that. >> host: cory bennett, kate tummarello mentioned national security. 2015 we saw a lot of highly publicized, high profile security breaches. is there a solution that the federal government can come up with? is there a solution that the congress can come up with? >> guest: it's a solution that comes in many pieces. the one refrain you constantly hear on capitol hill and from the white house is no silver bullet. they took a first step in 20 saw. backers -- 2015. backers of the cybersecurity act of 2015, most people know it as
the cybersecurity information sharing act, but that was signed into law late december passed through as part of the omnibus budget bill, the $1.5 trillion budget bill. and the idea behind that is it is a first step in allowing people to understand more about the hacking threats that the country faces. backers of the bill which, you know, the white house was onboard, had broad bipartisan support. many industry groups were onboard. they said we want to be able to share more information with the government and have the government share more information with us. the idea being if they are able to more quickly see the hacking threats that are out there, perhaps one company -- say home depot -- gets hacked as they have in the past, we could mitigate the fallout because we could more quickly tap the government for a solution to that problem. we can also tell other companies to look out for that specific hack. whereas in the past companies feel they've been hindered from sharing that information because of legal concerns.
so the idea is that this will help. it will not help stop hacks, however. even proponents of the bill are very clear about. we're still going to see data breaches in 20 16, they're still probably going to be massive, they're still going to come from foreign states such as china, iran, russia and as well as these massive cyber crime syndicates that we're seeing. the hope is this will help, perhaps, pare down the size of those breaches. >> host: is there a privacy issue involved with this? >> guest: there's a huge privacy issue involved with it. this bill in particular garnered much opposition from the digital privacy advocates, from civil libertarians. there was this coalition on capitol hill that was very vocal that combined the far-right libertarians with the priels-minded democrats and came together and, you know, we've already seen the introduction on the house side of a bill to repeal the cybersecurity act. people are not only mad at the bill, they say this information sharing, their main problem is
that it's going to lead to unfettered sharing of people's personal information with the government, and that information because of the bill, automatic sharing provisions in the bill, will be widely disseminated throughout the federal government including intelligence agencies. and gwen the snowden leak -- given the snowden leaks, that's very concerning to privacy advocates. >> host: kate tummarello, it's an election year. any of this going to happen? >> guest: i mean, it seems like people are already preparing for the slowdown that comes with an election year, but i think there's still a lot to get done, and lawmakers and the fcc, they're not going to stop anytime soon. privacy is actually a big issue, i think, that comes up in the election. but there's a list of six or seven bullet point items that congress says they're going to get done this year before they kind of adjourn for the election, and surveillance reform is one of those things they've already started talking about it. last year the congress passed
the usa freedom act, specifically the provision that allowed them to collect the really controversial phone record data. next year another provision's expiring that has to do with online surveillance, and congress is already starting the conversations about reforming that law so it's less controversial. so that's something that, you know, they have to tackle, you know, in the next year, and they've already started. so i don't think even though it will definitely slow down, some of these issues especially like privacy which every voter knows about, these things will continue to be on the front burner. >> guest: and that's true. there's also a privacy debate going on at the fcc regarding the net neutrality rules, and while the fcc has been kicking this new rule make down the line for the next several months perhaps in anticipation of a court ruling on the net neutrality case argued back in december, consumer advocates are already out asking the fcc to provide a lot of issues related to what you were just talking
about, cory, with regard to notifying consumers when a data breach has occurred and also the thought is they want the fcc to require isps to obtain affirmative consent from consumers before they gather and possibly share that data later on. so that's likely to be one of thing big fights at the fcc and on the hill particularly during oversight hearings. so a lot to play out there as well. >> guest: yeah. it's interesting that you mentioned the movement at the fcc, because on the hill it doesn't seem like we're going to see a lot of movement on data breach on the hill. there are so many options on both the house and senate sides, and there doesn't seem to be much unifying support behind any one of the offerings. they had trouble trying to move one last year in particular, and we've only seen more bills come out on this topic since then. and, you know, ostensibly they want companies to be required to tell the government within a set period of time when they've had a breach, and most of these
bills would also set a minimum data security standard for companies that are handling sensitive data around the country. but i would imagine and what i'm hearing from people i'm talking to is that in an election year, no movement at all. >> guest: especially with sisa already out the door. >> guest: exactly. they expended a lot of political capital getting that through, and i think any bipartisan comity between privacy dems and republicans has probably been expended in the battle that we saw. >> host: lydia beyoud, you mentioned the net neutrality ruling. two things. number one, what is the privacy issue involved that you brought up? but also help us untangle how that's going to play out in 2016. >> guest: well, the privacy issue with net neutrality is how internet service providers are collecting user data and what they do with it. and there's, you'll see many isps already making the argument that why is it okay for
us to be regulated by the fcc on this issue when other companies that also collect a lot of data like facebook or google do similar things with that, sort of the flipside of that is consumer groups say, well, you're not controlling where people go, but you're also controlling how they get there. that's probably going to be one of the key debates. there are a lot of policy experts out there who say, you know, isps maybe don't have as much data as you think they do, particularly as we move around from our mobile to our computer to other wireless devices, you know, sort of the data might get chopped up a little bit. but the fcc is going to be looking at all of those aspects and eventually coming out with a notice of proposed rulemaking that people will get to really get their teeth into later on. >> host: and the larger issue of the net neutrality potential ruling, when would you expect a ruling by the court? >> guest: most of the people i've spoken with are butting --
putting it at the end of april or around april, i believe. it could be earlier, it could be a little later, but most people think the court wants to be expeditious where the ruling. >> host: kate, what could change? >> guest: depending on how they rule a lot, i think, you know, the timeline is really interesting because you've seen a lot of activity in congress again on net neutrality. this is something that we've seen as long as this has been an issue, congress has been interested. but recently the house energy and commerce committee started moving piecemeal net neutrality bills, so they moved a bill from chairman walden that makes permanent an exemption from certain parts of the rules for small businesses, and they moved a bill that would prohibit the fcc from using the net neutrality rules for rate regulation. these are all small things that chip away at the order but, obviously, you know, if the court strikes it down or holds it up, that changes the game entirely for the legislative battle. and then you have thune saying he's work on a bipartisan net
neutrality lille which we've heard for over a year, but he's insistent that he's till doing it x they're getting close to a deal. if the court upholds the rules, there's really no reason for democrats to come to a deal, and the court strikes down a deal, there's no reason for republicans to come to the table. so this will change a lot in terms of the dynamickings on the hill. >> guest: well, and also, the court might only uphold part of the rule, so it might perhaps uphold the classification for your cable companies, your wire line communication providers but maybe not wireless, so you could end up with split regulation possibly, and the fcc could have to go back and redo the rules, and that could create tumult on the hill as well. >> host: cory bennett, when it comes to 2016 and some of the issues you cover, how is that going to play out? >> guest: you haven't seen much discussion of cybersecurity broadly. it seems to be an issue people
are afraid to wade into, potentially revealing a lack of understanding, a lack of knowledge. ben carson issued a cybersecurity policy paper recently that was dissected very critically by the community. what you have seen is incrimination come to the fore -- encryption come to the forefront in the wake of paris and san san bernardino. encryption now has become the one element of cybersecurity that is brought up constantly as part of national security, but as also part of a privacy discussion. we were talking earlier about privacy. encryption is an issue that many people feel very strongly about in the private community, in the tech community that we need full, robust, unbreakable encryption in order to protect basic online activities, online banking, online shopping, those everyday activities that people probably don't realize are reliant on encryption. they say that any access to encryption, any type of guaranteed access toen encryption inherently introduces
some type of vulnerability that would expose all of that data not only to investigators, to government officials, but also nefarious hackers, foreign spies, those kinds of people. obviously, the pendulum has somewhat swung in the wake of the terrorist attacks. law enforcement and many of the presidential candidates, as well as the democratic presidential candidates, we've seen a lot of tough talk from both of them in the sense that they want law enforcement to have some type of access to that data whether it's when they're served with a court order or whether they're required to by a bill passed through congress. we're seeing a lot of that from the republican side and on the democratic side we've seen talk about, well, we need to work with them on a voluntary basis. we don't want to mandate anything, we don't want to mandate a technical back door here, but we want to work with them. so hopefully, they can give us data voluntarily. >> host: what's the view from congress on this? >> guest: i think one of the
interesting things about the encryption debate is how global the perspective is. because, you know, a lot of members will argue, okay, yes, say we mandate that apple give us access to i messages which are currently incriminated, the terrorist groups can just move to a russian-based company where there is no back door, and we've just kind of -- we're playing whack-a-mole at that point and not really solving the problem. this really will come down to, i think, a lot of cooperation both within the u.s., but also on a global scale. and, you know, we're just kind of beginning these conversations in earnest. i think this is the kind of thing it's not like the administration necessarily has a cohesive perspective on this. you kind of hear different things from different branches and different people. i think this is a conversation that's just starting. >> guest: what's interesting is, as you mentioned, the white house has not necessarily put its foot down on this, and we can expect the white house to do this perhaps in the coming weeks. in december they said they were
going to deliver an updated stance on encryption policy. we have not seen it, but it can be expected soon, and a lot of people are looking to the white house, both lawmakers, privacy advocates to kind of lead the debate here because congress, i don't think, is going to go anywhere on. there are perhaps multiple proposals, some for guaranteed is the, some for a national commission to discuss the issue. but really i think everyone's looking to the white house to lead the discussion here, and we could see that updated policy stance in the coming weekings. >> guest: well, and as you mentioned, there's a lot of debate at these higher levels, but within the government itself there's a lot of ongoing efforts, some agencies, state department to do not only information sharing among themselves, but also with their counterparts abroad. so while the administration and lawmakers continue to work on this, there's still quite a bit of action that's being done at the agency level. >> guest: i think it's interesting to, i mean, just, you know, kind of going off that, we've seen with the safe
harbor deal that was just -- i guess what are they calling it, the privacy shield now? which is a wonderful rebranding. so we've seen that, and we also have seen, you know, even a law enforcement agreement between the e.u. and the u.s. to share more data about crimes, transatlantic, share that day. and so we have seen a number of these data-sharing agreements, yet they are often contingent on the u.s. strengthening its own privacy laws. >> guest: yeah. and the senate's going to have to vote on the redress act soon which is kind of this huge condition of the privacy shield. so it'll be interesting to see if there's last minute objections or if europe ends up being happy with the bill that congress turned out. it's definitely very much a transatlantic debate and one that i think there's a lot of speaking past each other just because our systems are so different. so that should be fun to watch play out. >> host: kate tummarello, we have ten minutes left. what are some other topics that interest you and what you foresee in 016?
>> guest: i think 2016's going to be an interesting year for internet governance. we've been talking about -- the u.s. government to step back from its oversight role of the domain name system for a long time now. certainly feels like that. and this is the year i think it could all come to a head. i can, which currently -- icann which currently does the role is going to propose to the u.s. government its plans for increased accountability and this transition in the coming weeks supposedly and then, you know, it's going to be up to the u.s. government to facilitate that plan. however, congress has said in the past it doesn't want it happening. republicans don't want it to go forward. they haven't even seen it yet, but they don't like the idea of the transition in general, so they've had funding limitations on the ntia and the commerce department for years now and, you know, this will be the year that it matters. if they continue to put those funding limitations on, that could hurt the transition. and more importantly, that could hurt the way the internet
governance works across the world, because it kind of asserts that the u.s. deserves a bigger role than maybe other countries would like it to have. so we'll see the proposal for the transition soon, and then we'll see how lawmakers react. >> host: well, there was a delay put in last year, wasn't there? >> guest: yeah, i think they've taken a lot longer to come up with this transition proposal than they thought it was going to take because icann is this very large, sometimes unruly cast of characters. there's a lot of people involved. so, you know, they say they're coming down to it. they've reached agreement, they're just formalizing it, then they're going to propose it, but if congress continues these funding limitations, it doesn't -- it'll be up to the administration to work with congress to get over that hurdle. >> host: and there's a real reluctance in congress, isn't there? >> guest: there is. and there was this huge breakthrough last year where the energy and commerce department passed this bipartisan version of the dot.com act which would basically let the administration go forward with its plan and
give congress, i think it's 30 legislative days to review the plan. and the house passed it overwhelmingly, but in the senate it got held up by senator ted cruz who, as we all know, is running for president. and, you know, it's ironic because that could end up costing congress any oversight. if they don't keep these funding limitations in place and don't pass the dot.com act, the commerce department do whatever they want. >> guest: unless ted cruz becomes president. [laughter] >> guest: yeah. then all bets are off. >> guest: everything could change. >> host: lydia beyoud, another topic. >> guest: right now the fcc has kicked off a very controversial proceeding or it's about to later this month at its next meeting with the settop box market, and that is the box that a you use to navigate your cable system. and it's already a very fraught issue. they have talked about making it so that other companies would be able to use existing technologies and hardware to make it easier to navigate and flip, say, from your cable
channels to your netflix or your hulu, and there's already been a coalition of companies from the pay tv industry, and that's everything from dish to at&t and many others who are opposing it. but google, meanwhile, is really trying to push this as a good idea and something that's very pro-consumer. and they've been doing demonstrations, most recently for hill stuff and also for fcc staff, and there's a little bit of he said/she said going on right now between why google already has this equipment ready when, you know, actually this whole proceeding got kicked off last year as a result of the reauthorization at the end of 2014. there was almost a yearlong working group and report that came out in 2015, and now we're sort of seeing it all come to a head as the fcc is about to unveil what's really in the new proposed rule. >> host: well, michael powell was on this program a month or so ago, the head of the cable
industry interest group or lobbying group, and he said they'd love to get rid of the boxes. >> guest: they have said that, yes. the cable industry has said we can do almost all of this with apps, and they don't necessarily need the boxes. on the other hand, i think the consumer groups say the settop boxes are a major revenue stream for cable providers. it's been estimated that the average consumer spends about $230 a year on multiple cable boxes in their homes, but, you know, it's a question of where's the market going, will the fcc be able to do something that truly opens it up in a competitive way x how will the different industries be able to sort of massage rules into something that benefits them and benefits the average consumer as well. >> host: at this point are cable companies, broadcast companies, netflix, amazon, apple tv, google tv, chrome tv, are they all regulated differently or unregulated at some point?
>> guest: i think they would say that they are. it sort of depends on which space you're talking about. but in the cable market, cable companies and satellite companies are subject to very different regulations just between themselves and then also with, compared to edge providers. when you get into things like google fiber, that is a cable company, so it seems like there's a little bit of redrawing of how all these different companies are regulated as more and more combine. >> host: cory bennett, another topic. >> guest: well, i think u.s. and china, the cyber relations between the two countries, is going to continue to be interesting. it has fallen out of the headlines somewhat in the last few months following in september president obama and chinese president xi agreed to this deal to end corporate hacking. not the kind of cyber espionage that we saw with the opm hack, but the kind of hacking where a country steals another company's intellectual property and then perhaps gives it to a domestic
competitor. all analysts have said that the u.s. economy is losing hundreds of millions, you know, billions of dollars every year because of this type of hackiing and they struck a deal to end this type of cyber attack. now, we don't know yet how that's worked. the white house has said it doesn't necessarily have a metric ready to show people to prove whether china is or is not adhering to the deal, but we should see the white house in a couple months come out with some indication of whether or not china has come along with its promise. and the result of that could actually be very telling for the future of u.s./china cyber relations. right before that deal was struck, there were many reports -- and the white house was pretty open about this -- that they were planning to sanction china, sanction companies and individuals within china for these type of cyber attacks. now, they've since come back and declined to do that, but most people imagine that they will eventually wield these
sanctions, and it will come from an infringement of this deal. so i think it's going to be very interesting to watch as these countries meet every six months to flesh out this deal which was very vague when it was initially announced and decide how are we going to measure whether or not you're adhering to it? what are we going to do if you run afoul of this agreement that we have in so that's something we're going to see perhaps in the next 3-6 months, movement in that, and it really could kind of speak to the entire future of u.s./china cyber relations which many see as normalizing right now. but that has the potential to change course very quickly, of course. >> host: kate tummarello, how -- i'm going to be awkward in my phrasing, i guess, but how tech-savvy are campaigns today? and how much technology is being used in this election cycle? >> guest: you know, i think compared to, you know, 12 years ago, very, very tech-savvy. everyone talks about the obama
campaign as revolutionizing the way campaigns deal with data. and, you know, there's more and more information online about people's activity, so it only makes sense that campaigns tap into that to figure out who they should be reaching out to, campaigning on behalf of them. so it's something that has definitely increased dramatically, tech-savviness in general among campaigns, and i can only imagine what 12 years from now will look like, especially if we all have google glasses and can have campaign ads scrolling by us 24/7. it's going to to be definitely a very interesting advance to watch. >> guest: well, and also to add to that, if you look at something like facebook in addition to proprietary databases or proprietary software that election campaigns might have, facebook is a very powerful data collection team, and it allows them, allows campaigns to really drill down to a very granular level on just what persuasion of republican or democrat might you be and how to
best target their message towards you. i think we've seen a lot of sophistication overall, but election campaigns are definitely often on the cutting edge of them. >> host: and facebook, in fact, has republicans and democrats working on staff to help the campaigns, don't they? >> guest: i believe so. >> guest: yeah. i mean, it's interesting just to see how companies like facebook and google have really gotten involved in debates this year. the last republican debate on fox, every single commercial real they said and if you google, you can get taken to a special page, and there's such a sins sis right now between -- synthesis right now between the messages that the campaigns and the parties want to get out and the way that companies like facebook and google can get that message out, so that's something i think we'll see a lot more of. >> host: okay. in the last year, last three years, has there been an increase in activity between tech companies and their presence in washington? >> guest: oh, absolutely.
it's been astronomical. we've seen all the major silicon valley players open up new offices in d.c., we've seen their lobbying money go up and up. they're setting new records almost every quarter when you look at disclosure forms, and it's across all of the issues we've talked about today. [laughter] and it'll be interesting to see where that goes, because some may argue there hasn't necessarily been a lot of wins for these company on capitol hill to this point. so they are increasing funding, but they haven't necessarily seen a commensurate result on capitol hill. one might argue the other way, certainly consumer groups would do so. but that'll definitely be something interesting to watch, are they going to continue to increase this lobbying spending. >> guest: yeah. it's definitely been interesting to kind of watch this industry you up, in a sense -- grow up, in a sense, in washington. and cory's right, the tech industry didn't get the patent reform bill they wanted done, the immigration bill -- >> guest: the cybersecurity bill they were largely opposed to.
>> guest: exactly. it's interesting to will they keep going knowing they had the track record they had. i think it's interesting how individual people within companies are playing a larger and larger role. you see like tim koma from apple -- tim cook from apple will come out and meet with members or bill gates. that has a lot of benefits, i'm sure, but, you know, i think they're trying to figure out the best way to get what they need from washington. >> guest: perhaps a bellwether of their weight in washington will be this encryption debate that we've talked about. tim cook, you mentioned, is at the forefront leading the fight for the tech community in terms of pro-encryption. so that could be a bellwether we'll see in 2016. >> guest: they've certainly become more sophisticated, and it's also at the regulatory level and if figuring out how to better tailor their messages to individual policy headachers and their staff -- policymakers and their staffs and working heavily on some of the issues they're most concerned about. >> host: our round table, lydia