Energy & Commerce

Yesterday, two Subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade and Communications and Technology) held a joint hearing entitled “Internet Privacy:  The Views of the FTC, the FCC, and NTIA” that featured testimony from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez, and NTIA Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling.  Topics discussed included the need for privacy and data security legislation, the development of baseline governing principles, and current efforts by each agency to engage stakeholders on these issues.

Legislators from both Subcommittees recognized the economic and social value of the Internet throughout the hearing and emphasized that nearly every aspect of our daily lives now has an online component.  Despite its “incalculable value,” the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Cal.), characterized the Internet as a “work in progress” and expressed concerns shared by many Members of the two Subcommittees over the collection, use, sharing and protection of online data and the need to improve consumer education.  The witnesses generally shared these concerns, and although their testimony did not reflect a shift in policy at the FTC, FCC, or NTIA, the dialogue between the legislators and regulators did shed light on the current state of thinking about privacy regulation at the federal level.Continue Reading Two House Energy & Commerce Subcommittees Hold Hearing on Internet Privacy

On Thursday, July 14, 2011 two Subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade and Communications and Technology) will hold a joint hearing entitled “Internet Privacy:  The Views of the FTC, the FCC, and NTIA.”  The hearing, which is the first in a series of anticipated dialogues aimed at

The House Energy and Commerce Commerce has announced plans for a “comprehensive review” of privacy and data security regulation.  The announcement explained that the “first phase” of the Committee’s review would be devoted to an assessment of the need for data security legislation.  The committee will then consider what Chairman Fred Upton referred to as “the

The key House committee with jurisdiction over privacy legislation is changing from top to bottom, undergoing as big a change as any committee in Congress, and is experiencing the largest turnover of Members and leadership in more than two decades.  These changes will have a profound impact on not just who is driving the privacy agenda but also how quickly the committee can act. 

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over privacy legislation and the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, and in the past has tried to tackle privacy and consumer-protection legislation in a bipartisan fashion.  In the last Congress, the drivers of the debate on privacy legislation were the Subcommittee leaders:  Congressmen Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), along with Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) and full Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX), one of the founders of the Privacy Caucus.  But in this Congress, the players are almost completely different.  For starters, Rep. Boucher is out of Congress, Barton is out of a leadership role, Waxman is out as Chair, Upton is in, and Rep. Stearns is now chairing an Oversight Subcommittee.  Taking Boucher’s place is Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who has not been particularly involved on privacy issues and is more likely to defer to Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), who is the new chair of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee.  What that means is that the Members who led the long discussions with industry last year on drafting a privacy bill will no longer be in the room as the Consumer Protection Subcommittee considers privacy legislation.Continue Reading The Outlook for 2011: Privacy Legislation in the House