House communications and technology subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D., Pa.) said today that he intends “to make net neutrality the subject of our first subcommittee hearing,” and he also emphasized universal service and online privacy as important subjects for the panel in the coming year.
“Congress needs to provide much more vigorous oversight of the Universal Service Fund,” Chairman Doyle said during a keynote address at the Internet Education Foundation’s State of the Net conference. He added that “the FCC seems intent on pushing more and more people out of the Lifeline program” and characterized the agency’s actions as “attacks” on the Lifeline program and tribal communities.
Mr. Doyle said that questions regarding privacy and other issues raised during hearings in the last congressional session with Internet platform executives “are questions we need to continue to ask,” adding that “it’s important for Congress to exercise its oversight role.”
“I also hope the subcommittee can address the country’s spectrum needs,” Chairman Doyle said. In addition, he suggested a new approach toward using license payments. “For far too long, spectrum auction revenue has gone down the black hole of deficit reduction. We need to find a way to use this revenue to close the digital divide,” he said.
During a separate keynote address, communications subcommittee ranking minority member Bob Latta (R., Ohio) said that he wants “to build on the success of the RAY BAUM’S Act,” which Congress passed in March of last year as part of an omnibus appropriation package. Among other things, it reauthorized the FCC for the first time in more than a quarter-century; included modified language from the MOBILE NOW Act (S 19), which the Senate passed in 2017 (TR Daily, Aug. 3, 2017); included $600 million for an Agriculture Department broadband loan and grant pilot and $7.5 million for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to update the national broadband map; and adopted a framework to address the issue of law enforcement access to data stored overseas (TR Daily, March 23, 2018).
Among the specific issues Rep. Latta said he hopes to see addressed this year are net neutrality, self-driving cars, and access to geolocation information. He said he sees “room for consensus” on net neutrality.
With regard to autonomous vehicles, he said that “a good piece of legislation” emerged from the committee last year, “but unfortunately nothing happened over in Senate. I look forward to working on that again this year.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
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