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Barton, Markey Release Draft of ‘Do Not Track’ Bill for Kids

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2011 – Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Ed Markey (D-MD) released a discussion draft of to-be-introduced legislation that would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to reflect changes in current technology.

The Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 would make several changes to the existing law, which dates back to 1998. Since then, says Rep. Barton, the Internet landscape has changed dramatically.

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WASHINGTON, May 9, 2011 – Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Ed Markey (D-MD) released a discussion draft of to-be-introduced legislation that would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to reflect changes in current technology.

The Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 would make several changes to the existing law, which dates back to 1998.  Since then, says Rep. Barton, the Internet landscape has changed dramatically.

“The Internet has transformed into an invaluable educational, research and entertainment tool, but with the good comes the bad,” said Barton. “We have reached a troubling point in the state of business when companies that conduct business online are so eager to make a buck, they resort to targeting our children. I strongly believe that information should not be collected on children and used for commercial purposes.

The proposed legislation would make stronger the disclosures required by companies about what sort of information they collect, require parental consent before collecting minors’ personal information, and prohibit the use of information that is collected for marketing purposes.  Additionally, the measure would create “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Teens” and require companies, where feasible, to erase collected minors’ data upon request by parents.

The legislation would also bring the current law into the mobile age by addressing not only personal information, but geolocation data as well.  Rep. Markey recently called on Congress to address media reports that Apple and Android phones track users personal location data, sometimes for months.

“For millions of kids today, the Internet is their new 21st century playground – they learn, play, and connect with others every day,” said Markey. “The Internet presents a wide array of opportunities to communicate and access entertainment that were unimaginable only a few years ago. But kids growing up in this online environment also need protection from the dangers that can lurk in cyberspace.”

 

A copy of the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 discussion draft is available here.

Jonathan began his career as a journalist before turning his focus to law and policy. He is an attorney licensed in Texas and the District of Columbia and has worked previously as a political reporter, in political campaign communications and on Capitol Hill. He holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Washington and a J.D. from Villanova Law School, where he focused his studies on Internet and intellectual property law and policy. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he roots for Seattle sports teams and plays guitar in his free time.

Congress

Sen. John Thune Launches Broadband Oversight Effort

Thune distributed a letter dated Tuesday seeking stakeholder input.

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Photo of Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in February 2011 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2022 – Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., announced Tuesday that he will conduct a review of federal broadband programs, becoming the latest Republican lawmaker to pledge to turn up congressional scrutiny of telecommunications officials.

Thune distributed a letter dated Tuesday seeking stakeholder input on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s stewardship of the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment fund, policies related to the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, and several “general broadband issues.”

In the letter, Thune probed several traditional conservative policy points, questioning federal guidelines that allegedly run afoul of technological neutrality or favor municipal networks, union workers, or domestic manufacturers.

“In order to ensure rural communities have access to these services, it is critical for federal agencies to efficiently spend funds on the areas that need it the most,” Thune said in a statement. “Every federal dollar that has been spent should go toward the stated purpose of expanding connectivity to truly unserved areas.

“Congressional oversight has been noticeably absent in these areas, and there is serious concern that the federal government would repeat previous mistakes where agencies’ gross mismanagement of broadband funds fell on the backs of taxpayers across the country,” he added.

Thune cited a U.S. Government Accountability Office report from May 2022 that concluded, “The U.S. broadband efforts are not guided by a national strategy with clear roles, goals, objectives, and performance measures.” The report discovered more than 100 individual programs supervised by 15 agencies.

The report further found that many programs have overlapping purposes and many attempts to harmonize them are corralled by statute. Without congressional action, it said, federal efforts cannot be “fully coordinated.”

A more recent GAO report released publicly on Wednesday found the U.S. Department of Agriculture had not, “set specific goals for what it wants [ReConnect broadband program] to achieve or for how it will measure how well the program is working.” The report also urged the agency to strengthen its anti-fraud protocols.

Thune last week introduced the Rural Internet Improvement Act, which would streamline the Department of Agriculture’s broadband initiatives and limit the use of the USDA’s ReConnect funds to acutely unserved areas.

This fall, the GOP have made clear its intention to heighten scrutiny of broadband administrators. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Penn., in September told Broadband Breakfast that he planned to subpoena the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to testify before the House Agriculture committee after the two agencies declined to appear at a hearing on the 2023 farm bill.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., that same month requested a list of all pending and expected FCC rulemakings, alleging a history of extra-statutory rulemakings. In November, McMorris Rodgers staffers re-emphasized the congresswoman’s commitment to oversight.

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Congress

Congress Working to Enact Permitting Reforms for Broadband

‘Red tape really does have the possibility to kill project,’ argued a House subcommittee chief counsel.

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Photo of Kate O'Connor from LinkedIn.

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2022 – Congress is advancing a series of proposals to reform broadband permitting, which include the elimination of unnecessary historical and environmental reviews and streamlining the process to deploy broadband on federal lands, staffers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Fiber Broadband Association web event, Evan Viau, a staff member for the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said the House is working to generally liberalize the permitting process for new deployments and upgrades to existing infrastructure as well.

“Red tape really does have the possibility to kill project,” argued Kate O’Connor, chief counsel for the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

“$42 billion (from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program) seems like a lot of money…but if we don’t change all of the processes that allow that $42 billion to actually get spent to deploy this infrastructure, it could all be wasted,” she added.

O’Connor called for an “all-hands approach” to permitting reform, saying the federal government should encourage such reforms at the state and local levels, as well.

In 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $65 billion to broadband funding – America’s largest investment in connectivity to date. The IIJA followed the American Rescue Plan Act, passed earlier that year, which also provided money for broadband to the states.

Republicans plan to oversee federal agencies

In addition to permitting reform, agency oversight is a top priority of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R–Wash., ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, O’Connor said. In September, McMorris Rodgers warned Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel against acting beyond the statutory limits of the Commission’s authority.

And McMorris Rodgers isn’t the only high-ranking Republican with the oversight itch. In September, Rep. Glenn Thompson, R–Penn., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, told Broadband Breakfast he would likely issue subpoenas to the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration following the agencies’ refusal to testify at a hearing.  

Should the GOP retake the house in the November midterms, McMorris Rodgers, Thompson, and other Republicans will be better positioned to take action against President Joe Biden’s executive agencies.

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Senate

National 6G Strategy Bill Passes Senate Commerce Committee

The Next Generation Telecommunications Act received bipartisan support.

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Photo of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto by Senate Democrats, via Wikimedia

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2022 – Legislation that would create a council to advise Congress on 6G and other wireless technologies and how they may power smart cities on Tuesday passed the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation committee with bipartisan support.

In addition to advising Congress on the state of technology in the telecommunications industry, the council would also develop a comprehensive, national telecom strategy, which will address topics related to technology, workforce demands and security.

The bill, Next Generation Telecommunications Act, S.3014,was introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who said in a press release that the legislation is a key part of her state’s goal of being “on the cutting edge of new technologies.

“We’ve got to promote American competitiveness in these kind of cutting-edge technologies that we’re building in Nevada,” Cortze Masto said in a statement on the bill. “That means improving access to quality broadband, ensuring we have the necessary workforce, and putting in safeguards to make sure we protect emerging technologies.”

The council would be comprised of 15 members including the deputy secretary of Commerce, the assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, the undersecretary of the National Institute of Standards, the chairperson of the Federal Communications Commission, and the director of the National Science Foundation.

The council would also feature three members appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, two members appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, three members appointed by the Speaker of the House, and two members appointed by the minority leader of the House.

The bill has received notable bipartisan support: it is co-sponsored by two Republicans and two additional Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ben Luján, D-N.M.

“As China and other countries seek to exploit communications networks for surveillance and intellectual property theft, the U.S. needs a cohesive strategy for the safe deployment of next-generation wireless technologies,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

South Dakota senator and Senate Republican minority whip John Thune also came out in support of the bill. “This bill would allow the United States to continue competing on the global stage, and it would help prepare the United States to lead the way in deploying next-generation technology, including 6G. I’ll continue to work on bipartisan solutions that will increase innovation and bolster the private sector’s ability to compete in this emerging space.”

The bill must now get through a general vote in the Senate, at which point it will need to also pass the House.

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