Communications & Technology

Subcommittee

Subcommittee on Communications & Technology

Electronic communications, both Interstate and foreign, including voice, video, audio and data, whether transmitted by wire or wirelessly, and whether transmitted by telecommunications, commercial or private mobile service, broadcast, cable, satellite, microwave, or other mode; technology generally; emergency and public safety communications; cybersecurity, privacy, and data security; the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Office of Emergency Communications in the Department of Homeland Security; and all aspects of the above-referenced jurisdiction related to the Department of Homeland Security.

Subcommittees News & Announcements


May 22, 2024
Hearings

Subcommittee Chair Latta Opening Remarks at C&T Legislative Hearing on Sunsetting Section 230

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s subcommittee hearing titled “Legislative Proposal to Sunset Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.” RECOGNIZING CHANGES IN THE INTERNET   “Since 1996, Section 230 protections have allowed the U.S. tech industry to flourish. “This legal framework emboldened Americans to pioneer, creating Internet and social media platforms that promote innovation, user content, and social media interaction. “Its intent was to provide online platforms immunity from liability for content posted by third-party users. “But as the Internet exploded in growth, it also increased challenges that were not contemplated when the law passed in 1996. “Section 230 must be reformed. “As we heard in our last hearing on this topic, the current online eco-system is flawed. “Many of these platforms are rife with content such as online sex trafficking, illegal arms sales, child pornography, and other illicit crimes. “In response, Big Tech platforms hide behind Section 230’s broad immunity. “In that process, courts have rewarded their destructive behavior. “We need to reform Section 230 to hold platforms accountable for the role they play in facilitating and enabling harmful behavior. “But in doing so, Congress must be thoughtful and deliberative. There is no silver bullet to fix this issue.”  REFORMING SECTION 230 “Some argue that amending or repealing Section 230 violates the First Amendment rights of these platforms to host the content they so choose. “Yet, no other industry has complete protection from all liability for harm it causes. Newspapers, broadcasters—fundamental mediums that exemplify our First Amendment rights—are subject to publisher liability or can be sued for defamation. Not Big Tech. “Over the past several Congresses, there have been numerous proposals to hold Big Tech accountable for when it acts as a publisher in moderating content on its platforms, but to no avail. “Which is why, today, we are reviewing a discussion draft that will sunset Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 effective December 31, 2025.” HOLDING BIG TECH ACCOUNTABLE “I hope this legislation will bring people together—including those who support, oppose, or are interested—to carefully discuss Section 230 reforms. “One thing is certain: Big Tech’s behavior has brought Republicans and Democrats together on a commitment to find a long-term solution to reform Section 230. “Congress has a monumental task ahead—but we must reform the law in a way that will protect innovation and promote free speech, allow Big Tech to moderate indecent and illegal content on its platforms, and be accountable to the American people.  “I look forward to our discussion today and to working with my colleagues on a broader discussion about purposeful reforms to Section 230. It is up to Congress, not the courts, to reform Section 230, and changes to this law are overdue.” 



May 22, 2024
Hearings

Chair Rodgers Opening Remarks at C&T Legislative Hearing on Sunsetting Section 230

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing titled “Legislative Proposal to Sunset Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.”  “Ranking Member Pallone and I recently unveiled bipartisan draft legislation to sunset Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. “As written, Section 230 was originally intended to protect Internet Service Providers from being held liable for content posted by a third-party user or for removing truly horrific or illegal content. “The intent was to make the Internet a safe space and allow companies to remove harmful content in good faith without being held liable for doing so.  “However, the Internet has changed dramatically since then.  “Over five billion people around the world use social media, with the average person spending more than two hours a day on social media.  “The Internet has become vital for people to connect, work, find information, and make a living. “Big Tech is exploiting this to profit off us and use the information we share to develop addictive algorithms that push content on to our feeds.  “At the same time, they refuse to strengthen their platforms’ protections against predators, drug dealers, sex traffickers, extortioners, and cyberbullies.  “Our children are the ones paying the greatest price.  “They are developing addictive and dangerous habits, often at the expense of their mental health. “Big Tech has failed to uphold American values and be good stewards of the content they host. “It has been nearly three decades since Section 230 was enacted. “The reality is that many of these companies didn’t even exist when the law was written, and we could not comprehend the full effect of the internet’s capabilities. “It is past time for Congress to reevaluate Section 230.” IMMUNITY “In recent years, U.S. courts have expanded the meaning of what Congress originally intended for this law, interpreting Section 230 in a way that gives Big Tech companies nearly unlimited immunity from legal consequences. “These blanket protections have resulted in tech firms operating without transparency or accountability for how they manage their platforms and harm users. “This means that a social media company, for example, can’t easily be held responsible if it promotes, amplifies, or makes money from posts selling drugs, illegal weapons, or other illicit content. “As more and more companies integrate generative artificial intelligence technologies into their platforms, these harms will only get worse, and AI will redefine what it means to be a publisher, potentially creating new legal challenges for companies.  “As long as the status quo prevails, Big Tech has no incentive to change the way they operate, and they will continue putting profits ahead of the mental health of our society and youth.”  SOLUTION “Reforming Section 230 and holding Big Tech accountable has long been a priority of mine and Ranking Member Pallone. “Last Congress, we both introduced our own legislation to reform the decades old law. “Unfortunately, tech companies did not engage with us in a meaningful way and no solutions or reforms were made. “Big Tech is satisfied with the status quo. “So much so that they have become masters at deception, distraction, and hiding behind others in order to keep Section 230 unchanged. “That’s why we’re taking bipartisan action now. “Our discussion draft will bring Congress and stakeholders to the table to work in good faith to create a solution that ensures accountability, protects innovation and free speech, and requires companies to be good stewards of their platforms. “Let me be clear. “Our goal is not for Section 230 to disappear. “But the reality is that nearly 25 bills to amend Section 230 have been introduced over the last two Congresses. “Many of these were good faith attempts to reform the law and Big Tech lobbied to kill them every time. “These companies have left us with no other option. “By enacting this legislation, we will force Congress to act. “It is long past time to hold these companies accountable. “The shield of Section 230 should be there to protect the American people, not Big Tech. “I am hopeful that this legislation is the start of an opportunity to work in a bipartisan way to achieve that goal. “It’s vital that we develop solutions to restore people’s free speech, identity, and safety online, while also continuing to encourage innovation.” 



May 22, 2024
In the News

Chair Rodgers Joins “Scrolling 2 Death” Podcast to Discuss the American Privacy Rights Act and Protecting Kids Online

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) joined host Nicki Reisberg on the Scrolling 2 Death podcast . Chair Rodgers shared how the American Privacy Rights Act will give people the right to control their data and is foundational to protecting kids online . Highlights and excerpts from the interview below: On the Importance of Protecting Kids Online: “First and foremost, I am a mom. We have three kids. Our oldest is 17, Cole, and then we have girls that are 10 and 13.   “Really, these Big Tech platforms have become my biggest fear. When you think about digital data, it’s deeply personal.    “It's central to a person's identity, and right now these algorithms that have been developed by these companies are specifically designed, not just to get our kids addicted to the platforms and keep them on these platforms as long as possible, but it also leads to harms against our children.   “A third of our teens right now say that they're almost constantly scrolling on some form of social media. “I think that's why the name of your podcast is spot on, because, really, our kids are scrolling to death, and these platforms are intentionally targeting our children with addictive content that leads to dangerous, and too often, life-threatening behaviors.   “Just recently, the Surgeon General of the United States of America talked about us having a loneliness epidemic.”  [...]   “What we're seeing is that this crisis is being driven because kids are spending more time online.   “Whether it's you, Nikki, or for my husband and I, or millions of parents across the nation, it really is a battle for our kids' development, their mental health, and ultimately their safety. That's why we must build a better future for our children.   “Our children are our future, and reining in Big Tech is a big part of what needs to happen to people, but especially our children, back in control of who they are, what they think, and how they live their lives.”  On Demanding Accountability from Big Tech: “Currently, Big Tech lacks accountability, and it's because they are immune from most civil liability because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.   “This is a law that was passed back in 1996. So, it was well before most of these companies even existed.   “But, under Section 230, they were to moderate content that was illegal or illicit, and they were to be held accountable for that.   “Unfortunately, the way that the courts have interpreted Section 230, they have become almost immune from any accountability and immune from liability because of illegal or illicit activity.   “If you look in our society, other companies, other industries don't receive this kind of protection.   “And Big Tech is using this law to shield them from any responsibility and accountability, as their platforms are involved in [causing] immense harm to people and especially our children.  “The story that you just shared, unfortunately, is repeated over and over and over, and what is happening today is that these platforms and companies are profiting from children.   “They're developing algorithms that are pushing harmful content to our kids.   “They're refusing to strengthen their protections against bad actors, and we see more predators, more drug dealers, sex traffickers, extortionists, or cyber bullies, and it's our kids that are paying the price at the expense of their mental health.   “So, what we need is a reset, and that's what the package of bills that we are moving forward right now is focused on.   “We have the American Privacy Rights Act focused on creating a national standard [for] privacy [and] data security.  “We also have legislation around Section 230 that would sunset Section 230 and give Big Tech a choice either to work with Congress to ensure the internet is a safe and healthy place or lose those liability protections.   “This would ensure that the social media companies are being held accountable for failing to protect our kids online. We also have bills that are focused specifically on kids, KOSA and COPPA, which is the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.   “All of these bills are really focused on ushering in a new era on the internet, one that would be defined by individual control and free expression, prosperity, innovation, but most importantly, accountability and safety.”  On the Path to Reform Section 230: “We are continuing to move forward. The Section 230 bill is important, because, as you as you said, this is where the social media platforms are gaining this shield of immunity.   “Right now, even though the law says that they are to be moderating content that is illegal or illicit, I have a constituent, Molly Cain, who lost her son when he bought a pill online. This was Snapchat. But it was an anti anxiety pill he thought he was buying. Instead, it was laced in fentanyl, and he died.   “This type of a story where the tech company or the platform is not held accountable is repeated because of the way the courts have interpreted Section 230. So, what we're doing this week is moving forward on the legislation in the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been at the forefront of these issues for decades."   [...]  “The goal here is to force Congress to reform this bill by certain date or the tech companies will just lose their immunity. So, we're going to be moving these bills through subcommittee, and that's the first step.  “Then they'll go to the Full Committee but [we’re] continuing to build support. It's really important that people that care about these issues are reaching out to Members on both sides of the aisle, right now, to voice their support for these bills.   “We're taking on some of the largest companies in America right now. They have a lot of resources, and my hope is that it will be moms and parents and kids that have been harmed that really rise up all across this country to voice support.”  On Limiting the Amount of Data Big Tech Can Collect: “We're going to continue to take steps. These are very complicated issues.   “As I mentioned, the Committee has been working on them for decades, but I really believe that now is the time that we have some solutions that have bipartisan support that we can get onto the President's desk. Congress needs to act.  “We have the American Privacy Rights Act. That's foundational to protecting our kids online, as well as protecting all Americans online. This would set up a national privacy standard, as well as protecting data online in all 50 states for all ages. Fundamentally, it is built upon data minimization.   “It just limits, from the very beginning, the amount of data that companies can collect, and this will restrict a company's ability to track, predict, and manipulate people for profit without their knowledge and consent.   “In addition, it will strengthen protections for children when Big Tech is using this data to track and target our kids online by creating dangerous algorithms.”  [...] “The bill also gives individuals an ability to turn off targeted advertising. That is another way that companies track every aspect of our lives, like our location data, our clicks, our search history, and it would require companies to review their algorithms to ensure that they're not endangering children through malicious content, which we all see is leading to these downward spirals.   “So, that's the American Privacy Rights Act. That's foundational, and then the kids bills complement this effort.   “We have the [Kids] Online Safety Act (KOSA), and then COPPA. [...] We had one lady young lady who testified her name was Ava, and she shared her personal story.  “It was really powerful to hear her talk about how they were collecting massive amounts of data on her. They were able to exploit her vulnerabilities. They understood her vulnerabilities, and then they targeted her through the ads, and they led her down this path that led to ads around bikinis and then it was exercise videos and then it was dieting tips.   “Then, finally, she found herself with an eating disorder, and she was so grateful that she was able to break out of that, but she just shared that because of the amount of data they collected, they weaponized that data against her and really exploited her vulnerabilities.”   On Working with the Senate and the White House to Pass Comprehensive Data Privacy: “Senator Maria Cantwell is the Chairwoman in the Senate of the Commerce Committee. We're working together on the privacy bill.   “There's been a lot of hearings, we've received a lot of feedback, and we continue to get input from Members and stakeholders, but I'm really encouraged by the support that we're hearing from, from Members and stakeholders on Capitol Hill, but also people all across the country. “This really is the time for people to make their voices heard, and demand that Congress take action to protect our kids online.” 


Subcommittee Members

(28)

Chairman Communications and Technology

Bob Latta

R

Ohio – District 5

Vice Chair Communications and Technology

Randy Weber

R

Texas – District 14

Ranking Member Communications and Technology

Doris Matsui

D

California – District 7

Gus Bilirakis

R

Florida – District 12

Tim Walberg

R

Michigan – District 5

Buddy Carter

R

Georgia – District 1

Neal Dunn, M.D.

R

Florida – District 2

John Curtis

R

Utah – District 3

John Joyce

R

Pennsylvania – District 13

Rick Allen

R

Georgia – District 12

Russ Fulcher

R

Idaho – District 1

August Pfluger

R

Texas – District 11

Diana Harshbarger

R

Tennessee – District 1

Mariannette Miller-Meeks

R

Iowa – District 1

Kat Cammack

R

Florida – District 3

Jay Obernolte

R

California – District 23

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

R

Washington – District 5

Yvette Clarke

D

New York – District 9

Marc Veasey

D

Texas – District 33

Darren Soto

D

Florida – District 9

Anna Eshoo

D

California – District 16

Tony Cardenas

D

California – District 29

Angie Craig

D

Minnesota – District 2

Lizzie Fletcher

D

Texas – District 7

Debbie Dingell

D

Michigan – District 6

Ann Kuster

D

New Hampshire – District 2

Robin Kelly

D

Illinois – District 2

Frank Pallone

D

New Jersey – District 6

Recent Letters


May 1, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans Open Investigation into Allegations of Political Bias at Taxpayer-Funded NPR, Request Attendance at Hearing

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) wrote to NPR CEO Katherine Maher regarding reports of political and ideological bias at the taxpayer-funded public radio organization. In addition to requesting answers to questions, the letter requests Ms. Maher appear before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for a hearing on May 8, 2024. "The Committee has concerns about the direction in which NPR may be headed under past and present leadership. As a taxpayer funded, public radio organization, NPR should focus on fair and objective news reporting that both considers and reflects the views of the larger U.S. population and not just a niche audience," the Chairs wrote.   They continued , "We also find it disconcerting that NPR’s coverage of major news in recent years has been so polarized as to preclude any need to uncover the truth. These have included news stories on matters of national security and importance, such as the Mueller report, the Hunter Biden laptop, and the COVID-19 origins investigation. On each of these issues, NPR has been accused of approaching its news reporting with an extreme left-leaning lens." “In light of the recent, disturbing revelations about National Public Radio (NPR) and its leadership, I’ve directed Chair McMorris Rodgers and the Energy and Commerce Committee to conduct an investigation of NPR and determine what actions should be taken to hold the organization accountable for its ideological bias and contempt for facts. The American people support the free press but will not be made to fund a left-leaning political agenda with taxpayer funds.” said Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) regarding the effort. CLICK HERE to read the letter.



Chair Rodgers, Ranking Member Cruz Lead Colleagues in Urging FCC to Halt Unlawful Plan to Reclassify Broadband as a Public Utility

Letter argues agency lacks legal authority to reinstate burdensome rules that will hurt consumers Washington, D.C. – U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) led a bicameral coalition of their committee colleagues in calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reverse course and abandon its so-called “net neutrality” draft order—an illegal power grab that would expose the broadband industry to an oppressive regulatory regime under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC is set to vote on the draft order on Thursday. The members argue that the FCC’s draft order ignores the text of the Communications Act of 1934, which explicitly precludes the FCC from treating broadband as a public utility. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence on the major questions doctrine confirms that the only body that can authorize public utility regulation of broadband is Congress. Resurrecting this failed Obama-era policy, which will inevitably be struck down by the courts, is a waste of time and re sources and will punish American consumers by choking off investment, innovation, and competition. In a letter to Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the members write: “Congress’s decision to treat broadband Internet access as an information service, rather than a telecommunications service, was a deliberate policy choice. Congress recognized that ‘[t]he Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation,’ and accordingly decreed that it ‘is the policy of the United States... to promote the continued development of the internet and other interactive computer services... [and] to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.’   “Your proposal to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service does the exact opposite. It would give the Commission largely unfettered power to impose (and allow states to impose) rate regulation, tariffing requirements, unbundling obligations, entry and exit regulation, and taxation of broadband—the antithesis of leaving broadband ‘unfettered’ by regulation as the law requires. Congress has had many opportunities to give the FCC such power, yet it has never done so in any of its ample legislative enactments regarding broadband over the past two decades. Rather, legislators have repeatedly considered but ultimately rejected efforts to replace the longstanding light-touch framework with common carrier regulation. And for good reason: Title II will inflict significant damage on consumers by chilling investment and innovation.   “Finally, recent jurisprudence from the Supreme Court confirms that the Commission has no power to impose Title II on the broadband industry. As the Commission’s record demonstrates, the question of whether broadband should be subject to public utility regulation is an issue of ‘vast economic and political significance,’ such that the Commission must identify ‘clear authorization from Congress’ to justify such a decision. Our review of the relevant statutory provisions leaves no doubt that, far from possessing the type of ‘clear’ statutory authority required under Supreme Court precedent, the Commission lacks any authority to subject broadband services to common-carrier regulation.” The full list of Senators joining Chair Rodgers and Ranking Member Cruz in sending the letter include: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (Re-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). Also signing the letter were Reps. Bob Latta (OH-5), Michael Burgess (TX-26), Brett Guthrie (KY-2), Morgan Griffith (VA-9), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Larry Bucshon (IN-8), Richard Hudson (NC-9), Tim Walberg (MI-5), Buddy Carter (GA-1), Jeff Duncan (SC-3), Gary Palmer (AL-6), Neal Dunn (FL-2), John Curtis (UT-3), Debbie Lesko (AZ-8), Greg Pence (IN-6), Dan Crenshaw (TX-2), John Joyce (PA-13), Kelly Armstrong (ND-At-large), Randy Weber (TX-14), Rick Allen (GA-12), Troy Balderson (OH-12), Russ Fulcher (ID-1), August Pfluger (TX-11), Diana Harshbarger (TN-1), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-1), Kat Cammack (FL-3), Jay Obernolte (CA-23), and John James (MI-10). The full text of the letter is available HERE .



Jan 17, 2024
Press Release

E&C, China Select Committees Launch Inquiry into Taxpayer Funding Streams Funneled to CCP-Backed Researcher

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C) Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), E&C Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), E&C Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), E&C Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, launched an investigation into grants made to an AI scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  The Chairs made requests for documents to UCLA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).  BACKGROUND :  On November 1, 2023, a Newsweek investigation found that the federal government awarded at least $30 million in federal research grants led by Mr. Song-Chun Zhu, who is now “at the forefront of China's race to develop the most advanced artificial intelligence.”  The investigation further revealed the NSF and DOD continued funding Mr. Zhu even as he “set up a parallel institute near Wuhan, took a position at a Beijing university whose primary goal is to support Chinese military research, and joined a CCP ‘talent plan’ whose members are tasked with transferring knowledge and technology to China.”  In particular, Newsweek found that the project once led by Mr. Zhu received $1.2 million in two grants from the Office of Naval Research in 2021, the year following his departure to China.  KEY LETTER EXCERPT:   “Mr. Zhu has openly discussed how if China takes the lead in developing a ‘truly universal intelligence,’ then it will ‘become the winner of the international technology competition.’ He has also referred to the AI race as being equivalent in military importance to the race for the atomic bomb. In a period of intensifying geopolitical competition with the CCP, ceasing federal government support for Chinese AI development is a critical national security imperative.”  CLICK HERE to read the letter to UCLA Chancellor Gener Block.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.