Two Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing for an oversight hearing to learn more about what they called the Federal Communications Commission’s drive to implement “unpopular policies.”
In a letter to Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), ranking committee members Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) press leadership to hold a hearing as soon as possible. In particular, Pallone and Doyle want to hear from the FCC on how it plans to safeguard Americans’ online data in the wake of Congress’ rollback of data privacy protections. The rules, which required internet service providers to obtain customers’ consent in order to use and share their personal information, were scrapped in April.
The pair also say they wanted to know more about the Commission’s move to roll back net neutrality regulations implemented under Title II. On that front, it’s worth noting that the letter was sent on Wednesday, which was chosen by advocates as a “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.” More on how ISPs reacted to that here.
According to Pallone and Walden, the current FCC under Chairman Pai has yet to account for its actions before the Committee – which represents a stark contrast to the six times former Chairman Tom Wheeler had testified before the same body by last July. Pallone and Walden indicate leadership told them a hearing would be scheduled for this month, but say such an appointment has yet to appear on the calendar.
“This Committee has an obligation to perform oversight on behalf of the American people and ensure that the American people understand the consequences of the FCC’s actions. The Committee should not be working to shield the FCC from having to explain its push to install such unpopular policies,” the pair write. “The Subcommittee has gone too long without hearing from the leasers at the FCC, and we are concerned that the Subcommittee is abdicating its oversight responsibilities altogether.”
The FCC is currently governed by a 2-1 Republican majority. President Donald Trump has nominated former Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and Brendan Carr, a Republican, to fill two open seats on the Commission. More on those nominations here and here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations