NTIA New Hires, Section 230 Legislation Reintroduced, EU Digital Laws Target American Firms

The NTIA has made key leadership hires just weeks after its head was confirmed by the Senate.

NTIA New Hires, Section 230 Legislation Reintroduced, EU Digital Laws Target American Firms
Photo of Andy Berke, new special broadband representative for NTIA, in January 2018 by Lawrence Miller used with permission

February 2, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Association announced Wednesday new hires to its senior leadership ranks.

April McClain-Delaney will be deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Andy Berke will be a special representative for broadband.

The hires come shortly after NTIA head Alan Davidson was confirmed by the Senate last month and comes before a critical year in which the agency of the Commerce Department plans for the release of broadband money coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

McClain-Delaney was the Washington Director of Common Sense Media before accepting her new position. She also worked for the Delaney Charitable Foundation as a director. Over her 30 years of experience, she has focused on “digital citizenship education, the digital divide, privacy protections and tech addition issues.”

Berke is the former mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, his term ended in 2021. While mayor he “led a partnership to provide high speed broadband at no cost to every family with a child on free or reduced lunch, making Chattanooga the first community in the country with such a benefit.” He also established digital equity programs as mayor and was in the Tennessee Senate for five years.

Chattanooga is known as the “Gig City” for its community fiber network that delivers multiple gigabits per second download speeds.

Section 230 legislation reintroduced in Senate

Legislation that would limit protections afforded to technology platforms from liability has been reintroduced in the Senate on Monday.

The “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies” Act – which was reintroduced by Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut – would limit the protections afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields platforms from the liability of the content of their users.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association, an industry group, said it is not in favor of the bill’s reintroduction. CCIA President Matt Schruers said that lawmakers need to focus on prosecuting perpetrators, but “Instead of directing more resources toward prosecution of industry-reported content, this bill aims to put a government commission in charge of how digital services operate.”

The CCIA also pointed out its own efforts to reach members of Congress and tell them about “the collateral dangers of altering the law that gives internet companies legal certainty to remove nefarious and illegal content” through joint letters to Senate leaders.

Lawmakers concerned about EU laws targeting American tech companies

U.S. lawmakers are raising concern about digital media laws in the European Union that seek to regulate the market power of large American technology companies, saying the rules would unfairly target their companies.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said in a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday that they are afraid the laws – the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act, which is still being debated overseas – will harm trade between the U.S. and the EU.

The lawmakers are concerned that the laws, which target such things as data use practices, would disproportionally focus on American companies and not be implemented uniformly in other countries, thus giving European companies a leg up on the Americans.

“As the EU works to take positive steps to protect privacy, ensure competition, and facilitate digital inclusivity, it is critical that U.S. innovators, and the American workers and internet users behind them, are not placed at an unfair disadvantage by discriminatory trade policies,” the letter said.

The legislation will give “an unfair competitive advantage to other foreign companies, including those based in countries like China and Russia, which do not reflect shared U.S.-EU values of democracy, human rights, and market-based principles,” the letter added.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also expressed her fear that the legislation “will disproportionately impact U.S.-based tech firms and their ability to adequately serve EU customers and uphold security and privacy standards,” said the CCIA.

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