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Blog Updates


Jun 5, 2023
Big Tech

How Your Online Data is Being Abused to Surveil you and Violate Your Freedoms

Do you know how much personal information on you and your family is available online for d ata brokers to harvest without your knowledge?   Data brokers are aggregating your online information to build profiles on you and your family members, which they then sell to anyone willing to pay. That includes government agencies, which are paying these data brokers to spy on Americans, creating an ecosystem of surveillance that jeopardizes peoples’ data privacy and security, and violates our civil liberties.  HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS USING DATA BROKERS TO SPY ON AMERICANS:   A California County hired a data broker to track the location and number of people attending church during government-enforced COVID-19 lockdowns. The location data was so specific that the county was able to identify how many people visited each structure within the church’s property.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) used taxpayer dollars to hire a data mining and surveillance company to screen travelers , including U.S. citizens, by linking people’s social media posts to personal information like their Social Security number and location data. This is particularly troubling given DHS’ recent attempt to establish a disinformation governance board to surveil and censor Americans online.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used a data broker company to collect personal data on investigative journalist Matt Taibbi who—through his Twitter Files reporting—was exposing the government's collusion with Big Tech to censor Americans and control what they see online. The IRS visited Taibbi’s home unannounced the same day he testified before Congress on the weaponization of the federal government.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) paid $420,000 to a data broker for access to Americans’ location data, which was harvested from tens of millions of Americans’ phones. This data was then used by the CDC to monitor whether Americans were complying with curfews and track who was visiting K-12 schools.  BOTTOM LINE: The Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating data brokers’ unrestrained collection of Americans’ data, and their ability to sell our most sensitive information to anyone including to government agencies. This is the type of behavior we would expect from the Chinese Communist Party—not the United States.   NEXT STEPS: The best way to protect Americans’ personal information online and end this surveillance state is with a comprehensive data privacy and security law, which would:  Give Americans more control over their data;   Bring these data brokers out from the shadows; Preserve law enforcement’s ability to protect their communities; and   Prevent the government from buying data from data brokers to violate people's civil liberties.   Read more about the Energy and Commerce Committee's bipartisan efforts to strengthen data security and privacy protections for Americans across the country, no matter where they live.   Expert Warns Data Brokers Profit from Unregulated Surveillance   We’ve Waited Long Enough for a National Privacy Standard  



May 25, 2023
On the House Floor

E&C Republicans Lead Passage of Bipartisan HALT Fentanyl on House Floor

Bills Gives Law Enforcement Permanent Tools to Crack Down on Illicit Fentanyl-Related Substances Today, the People’s House took action on the HALT Fentanyl Act to save lives and stop the scourge of fentanyl, which is killing more Americans than ever. The bill, led by Energy and Commerce members Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Bob Latta (R-OH), passed the House with a strong bipartisan vote of 289-133. The HALT Fentanyl Act will make the temporary class-wide scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances permanent and give law enforcement the tools they need to keep Americans safe. As Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said, “this bill will save lives.” Watch her remarks and more from E&C Republicans below. Learn more about the HALT Fentanyl Act and how it will make our communities safer by visiting energycommerce.house.gov/haltfentanyl .



May 24, 2023
Markups

E&C Advances Seven Bills to Close the Digital Divide and Improve American Leadership in Wireless Communications

In a Full Committee markup today, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed solutions that will streamline broadband permitting to expedite deployment and reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission’s Spectrum Auction Authority. Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) on ensuring all Americans have access to reliable broadband services: ON CLOSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE “High-speed broadband is an important part of our economy, yet many Americans, including in Eastern Washington, do not have access to reliable broadband. “In order to deploy broadband, providers need to go through burdensome permitting processes at the federal, state, and local level and the time to receive approval on a permit can range from several months to several years. “Our legislation would cut the red tape and ensure that this money can reach rural, unserved Americans quickly.” ON SPECTRUM “The Spectrum Auction Reauthorization Act would extend spectrum auction authority, make important changes to existing spectrum auction processes, and direct spectrum auction proceeds to fund critical programs. “This bill would promote our national security by providing $3.08 billion for our small communications providers to remove Huawei and ZTE from their networks. “It would authorize and fund Next Generation 9-1-1 technology to help our public safety officers and make sure Americans can reach emergency responders when they need it most. “Most importantly, this bill is a product of long bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, and I urge my colleagues to vote yes.” Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-OH): “The permitting bills we are considering today are an important step in ensuring that every American has access to high-speed broadband. “Since 2020, Congress has dedicated a record amount of money to support broadband deployment, culminating with Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But spending is not enough. “The infrastructure law was a missed opportunity to enact meaningful permitting reform that is necessary to quickly build new networks. Today, we have the opportunity to fix that mistake.” Legislative Vote Summary: H.R. 3309 , the Standard Fees to Expedite Evaluation and Streamlining Act or the Standard FEES Act , sponsored by Reps. Gary Palmer and Patrick Ryan, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 50-0. H.R. 3293 , the Expediting Federal Broadband Deployment Reviews Act , sponsored by Reps. Jeff Duncan and Angie Craig, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 51-0. H.R. 3299 , the Deploying Infrastructure with Greater Internet Transactions and Legacy Applications Act or DIGITAL Applications Act , sponsored by Reps. Kat Cammack and Doris Matsui, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 51-0. H.R. 3283 , the Facilitating the Deployment of Infrastructure with Greater Internet Transactions and Legacy Applications Act or Facilitating DIGITAL Applications Act , sponsored by Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Debbie Dingell, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 51-0. H.R. 3343 , the Federal Broadband Deployment Tracking Act , sponsored by Reps. August Pfluger and Darren Soto, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 51-0. H.R. 3565 , the Spectrum Auction Reauthorization Act of 2023 , sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Frank Pallone, Jr., was reported favorably, as amended, to the House by a vote of 50-0. H.R. 3557 , the American Broadband Deployment Act of 2023 , sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter, Nathaniel Moran, and Neal Dunn, was reported favorably, as amended, to the House by a vote of 27-23.



May 24, 2023
Markups

E&C Advances Five Bills to Secure America’s Energy Future and Freedom

In a Full Committee markup today, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed solutions that will secure our critical energy infrastructure, strengthen America’s nuclear energy industry, and protect people’s freedom of choice when it comes to their home appliances. Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) on H.R. 1042, the Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act : “Nuclear is a key part of our energy mix and right now America is dangerously reliant upon Russia’s supply of nuclear fuels for our existing nuclear power plant fleet. “My legislation—the Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act—bans fuel imports from Russia and sends a strong signal to the market that will help restore American nuclear leadership and fuel infrastructure.” Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) on securing Americans’ access to affordable and reliable home appliances:  “Americans should be free to choose what cooking product they use in their homes and this bill ensures that. “I urge my colleagues to support the legislation in front of us today which puts the American people first and prioritizes delivering affordable, reliable, and clean energy to all Americans.” Legislative Vote Summary: H.R. 1160 , the Critical Electric Infrastructure Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Act , sponsored by Reps. Tim Walberg and Kim Schrier, was reported favorably, as amended, to the House by a vote of 49-1. H.R. 3277 , the Energy Emergency Leadership Act , sponsored by Reps. Tim Walberg and Lisa Blunt Rochester, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 48-0. H.R. 1042 , the Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act , sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, was reported favorably, as amended, to the House by a vote of 29-21. H.R. 1640 , the Save Our Gas Stoves Act, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 31-18. H.R. 1615 , the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act , sponsored by Rep. Kelly Armstrong, was reported favorably, without amendment, to the House by a vote of 29-19.



May 24, 2023
On the House Floor

E&C GOP Lead to Stop Biden’s Plan to Jack up Prices on Everything Transported by Truck

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans spoke in favor of S.J. Res. 11 , a resolution to disapprove of the EPA’s final rule, “Control of Air Pollution from New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards.” It passed the House Tuesday by a vote of 221-203. BOTTOMLINE: The EPA’s own estimates say their emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks could cost more than $8,000 per semi-truck. This will jack up prices for everything transported by truck, including food, clothing, building materials. The American people can’t afford this regulation and it’ll force small operators close up shop, which will wreak havoc across our supply chains. More from E&C Republicans below:



May 24, 2023
Markups

E&C Advances Six Bills to Lower Health Care Costs and Increase Price Transparency Out of Committee

Key bill—the PATIENT Act—clears committee unanimously In a Full Committee markup today, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of health care and increase price transparency, as well as improve farmers and pet owners' access to safe and effective animal drugs.  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) on the PATIENT Act:   “Patients are frustrated. The system must be more simple, transparent, and affordable.     "We spend more on health care as a percentage of our economy than any other developed nation.     “And for their money, Americans are rewarded with a bureaucratic and overly burdensome system.    “They see the corporations responsible for providing and paying for care go to great lengths to hide costs, deny payment for care, and weigh patients down in complexity.     “What we are doing here today won’t solve every problem in our health care system.     “I have said this is just a first step towards addressing the problems we face.     “But we can be proud of the meaningful, bipartisan policies included in this amendment that will lower costs and improve transparency for patients.”   Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY):  “We’re also promoting access to care for vulnerable Americans who need lifesaving, one-of-a kind treatments.    “My bill, the Medicaid VBPs for Patients Act, or the MVP Act, would provide access to the most innovative cures for Medicaid patients living with otherwise incurable or untreatable life-threatening conditions through value-based agreements. “We are talking about patients dealing with diseases, such as sickle cell and debilitating bleeding disorders.    “I want to personally thank Representative Eshoo for her leadership to take on this bill with me that will ultimately save lives and promote long-term savings for state Medicaid programs.”   Legislative Vote Summary:  H.R. 1418 , the Animal Drug User Fee Amendments of 2023 , sponsored by Reps. Greg Pence and Kim Schrier, was favorably reported, without amendment, to the House by a bipartisan vote of 49-0.  H.R. 2544 , the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act , led by Reps. Larry Bucshon and Robin Kelly, was favorably reported, without amendment, to the House by a bipartisan vote of 48-0.  H.R. 2666 , the Medicaid VBPs for Patients (MVP) Act , led by Reps. Brett Guthrie and Anna Eshoo, was reported favorably, as amended, to the House by a bipartisan vote of 31-19.  H.R. 3284 , the Providers and Payers COMPETE Act, led by Reps. Michael Burgess and Debbie Dingell, was reported favorably, as amended, to the House by a bipartisan vote of 49-0.  H.R. 3290 , To amend title III of the Public Health Service Act to ensure transparency and oversight of the 340B drug discount program , led by Rep. Larry Bucshon, was favorably reported, as amended, to the House by a vote of 29-22.  H.R. 3561 , the Promoting Access to Treatments and Increasing Extremely Needed Transparency Act of 2023 or the PATIENT Act of 2023, led by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Frank Pallone Jr., was favorably reported, as amended, to the House by a bipartisan vote of 49-0. 



Must Read Op-Eds: Reps. Walberg and Allen on Closing the Digital Divide

Access to reliable, high-speed broadband services has become an essential tool to participate in the American economy. In order to ensure all Americans are connected, we need to remove regulatory burdens and cut red tape, which have resulted in unnecessary permitting delays and exorbitant costs to deploying our communications infrastructure. In several recent op-eds for the Washington Times, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) outline how House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans are leading on solutions that streamline the permitting process to help deploy broadband faster and more effectively. This will ensure Americans get connected in communities across the country—especially in unserved areas. FROM REP. WALBERG: The pandemic is over, but the massive digital divide that it exposed persists. Every week, I hear from constituents who have no option for high-speed internet. Just a few miles down the road, my neighbors do not have a reliable connection. The consequences of this are significant, and these families, farmers, and businesses in rural America are being left behind in the digital age.   Throughout the last three years, nearly $100 billion has been allocated for broadband through several different programs, including $65 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Republicans in Congress know money is not a fix-all. We need to address the remaining obstacles to deploying broadband infrastructure and get all Americans connected. First, our permitting processes need to be updated and streamlined. Unpredictable timelines for permit approvals and exorbitant fees for applications have made it slower, more expensive, and onerous to deploy broadband infrastructure. To address this, my House Energy and Commerce Committee colleagues and I have reintroduced our comprehensive permitting package. This slate of bills will cut through unnecessary red tape, enforce needed shot clocks on agency reviews, and harmonize application processes and fees. Hurdles exist at the federal, state, and local level and ongoing disputes between area incumbents and broadband providers further exacerbates the problem. As a part of any broadband infrastructure update, we must improve coordination and cooperation between broadband providers, government agencies, and other stakeholders, such as utilities, transportation, and public safety. Coordination should also come with transparency and accountability, such as publishing data on the status and outcomes of permits. […] The digital divide between urban and rural America is unacceptable, and we must do everything in our power to close that gap. As co-chair of the Rural Broadband Caucus, I know this is not just an issue of convenience; it is a matter of economic opportunity, healthcare access, and education. To that end, officials must prioritize funding for areas that are truly unserved. We cannot simply throw money at the problem and hope that it goes away. We need to make sure that the funds are being used in the most effective manner possible, and that means targeting areas that are in the most need. Keep reading HERE . FROM REP. ALLEN: High-speed broadband is a critical part of today’s modern economy, no matter where you live. Whether it’s a patient seeking telehealth services, a student accessing online resources for homework, a farmer who wants to use analytics software to improve their operation, or a small business that simply wants to share its product with the world, Americans are increasingly reliant on internet connectivity for daily activities. Unfortunately, many Americans still do not have reliable access to the internet, including in my district and my home state of Georgia. To close the digital divide and further America’s leadership in next-generation broadband and wireless networks, we need effective reforms to accelerate the build out of high-speed connections, boost U.S. competitiveness, and ensure our farmers have the 21st century tools necessary to increase production. As a proud Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I am in a unique position to play a pivotal role in crafting legislation that lifts regulatory barriers and cuts through the bureaucratic red tape that has worsened the digital divide millions of Americans currently face—and we’ve hit the ground running in the 118th Congress. The Energy and Commerce Committee continues to go through regular order to improve our nation’s broadband access. In April, the House passed H.R. 1339, the Precision Agriculture Satellite Connectivity Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by my friend and colleague, Rep. Bob Latta (OH-05). Agriculture is Georgia’s number one industry, and to meet growing demand, farm families must have access to high-speed internet and innovative technologies on the farm to produce higher yields. […] Additionally, the Energy and Commerce Committee is continuing to hold hearings on streamlining permitting to expedite broadband deployment. Among other notable issues, these hearings have shined a light on the shortcomings of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill lacked necessary reforms to address the permitting and processing delays that are hampering broadband deployment in our rural communities. Unfortunately, this is business as usual in Washington—simply throwing more money at a problem without enacting needed program improvements, leading to wasted taxpayer dollars. Lastly, one of my top priorities in Congress is to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse by ensuring the Federal Broadband Map is accurate so our federal dollars are prioritized for communities that are truly underserved. I consistently hear from local stakeholders that the FCC’s mapping, from which the distribution of federal grant and loan dollars is based, is inadequate and incorrect. The process is improving, including by taking data from States into account. Georgia is the gold standard when it comes to accurate broadband mapping, and Georgia invested many state resources to recognizing exactly where broadband is needed across the state. We should be utilizing proven data to ensure our taxpayer dollars are not wasted when U.S. competitiveness and enterprise are on the line. Keep reading HERE . DON'T MISS: The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a legislative hearing on Tuesday where they will discuss reauthorizing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.



E&C Republicans Hold Biden Administration Accountable for its Reckless Rush-to-Green Agenda

House Republicans are leading on solutions like H.R. 1, the “Lower Energy Costs Act,” which will unleash American energy, lower prices, create jobs, reduce emissions, strengthen our national security, and secure our supply chains. This will raise the standard of living for all Americans. As House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said on the House Floor in support of H.R. 1: “Here in the United States of America, we are blessed with the ability and resources to continue to raise the standard of living globally and even lift people out of poverty. “Our goal is to celebrate how our abundant energy resources have unleashed prosperity and invited people from around the globe to come to America to achieve their hopes and dreams.” Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings recently with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and urged the Biden administration to reverse its anti-American energy policies that will leave Americans dangerously reliant on the Chinese Communist Party for our energy needs. Highlights from the hearings below: “Republicans are for energy innovation because we just simply cannot de-industrialize the United States in pursuit of the 100% use of wind and solar power generation, which seems to be the administration’s current policy. The results would be disastrous. So, we’re not going to go along with this idea of the ESG inspired, so-called, ‘energy transition,’ that is now synonymous with the fantasy that the world will totally shut down the use of oil, natural gas, and coal. Yes, Republicans do care about the climate and the environment, but we also believe we need to bring reason to the discussion. Perhaps rather than a premature energy transition, we could change the conversation to an energy journey, one with very real grid reliability, grid resilience, safety, security, and economic considerations to address along the way,” Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) said. “Republicans on Energy and Commerce have solutions to reverse the Democrats’ regressive energy agenda. H.R. 1, the ‘Lower Energy Costs Act’ passed the House a few weeks ago with a bipartisan vote. The legislation would create a regulatory structure that encourages investment and innovation to bring all forms of energy online,” Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said. “China actually has a stranglehold on the lithium supply chain and, they have invested $6 billion worth of assets in lithium in Chile, Canada, and Australia, and currently hold north of 60% of the refining capacity. There’s one mine in the United States, and it cannot cover 20% of the current EV consumption,” Vice Chairman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) said. “Especially after EPA's announcement of its newest crackdown on fossil fuel plants, what are we going to do in our country to mitigate coal and natural gas power plant closures and ensure that America doesn’t fall prey to grid failures like China did?” Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) said. “We’ve cleaned up our environment to a great degree, better than any other country in the world, with natural gas,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) said. “Why in the world would we want to increase funding for the Department of Energy when it appears to be going after consumer choice and quite frankly, Americans?” Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) said. “I speak for 750,000 constituents that are extremely worried about the overreach and the attack and the assault on American energy,” Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) said.



Expert Warns Data Brokers Profit from Unregulated Surveillance

With more Americans than ever using online apps and digital services, a stunning amount of information and personal data is being collected on you and potentially exploited by data brokers. Energy and Commerce is investigating how these companies are harvesting your data, selling or sharing it without your knowledge, and failing to keep it secure.  WHAT EXPERTS ARE SAYING: At an April 19 Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing , Justin Sherman, a Duke University Senior Fellow and Research Lead for the Data Brokerage Project, outlined the risks and dangers of continuing to let data brokers exploit your data without consequence, saying:   “Data brokerage is a threat to Americans’ civil rights, consumers’ privacy and well-being, and U.S. national security. The entire data brokerage ecosystem—from companies whose entire business model is data brokerage, to the thousands of other apps, advertisers, tech giants, and companies that collect, buy, sell, and share Americans’ personal data—profits from unregulated surveillance of every American, particularly the most vulnerable.”   INFORMATION COLLECTED BY DATA BROKERS: The best way to change the status quo and restore Americans’ control of their personal information is through a comprehensive data privacy and security framework, which will:  Protect your sensitive information online—like GPS, health, and mobile phone data—from being transferred to data brokers and sold without your knowledge to another private entity or government agency.   Prevent data brokers from aggregating your personal online information and selling that information to an employer or bank, who could then weaponize it to prevent you from getting a job or buying a home.  Restore your control over your personal online information by giving you the power to demand data brokers delete all of the information they’ve collected and stop further collection.  Require greater transparency around data brokers whose sole purpose is to covertly take money off of your information.   WHY IT MATTERS:  You are the product driving data brokers’ bottom line — these companies are willing to violate your civil liberties to turn a profit. This was made clear at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when data brokers collected Americans’ location data and sold it to federal and local government entities, including government entities in California and Washington, D.C. , as well as to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The information was then weaponized to spy on people during lockdowns to see who was attending activities, like church services, in person.  BIG PICTURE: Next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality will further deepen our reliance on online services and increase the amount of information collected. Without proper guardrails, that information can easily be sold to data brokers. Robust guardrails and a national privacy and data security standard would help prevent your information from being exploited further by these new technologies.  DON’T MISS: Last week, a bipartisan group of Energy and Commerce Committee Leaders sent letters to several data broker firms calling on them to be transparent about their data collection practices, selling practices, and the risks posed for Americans. The letters follow the April 19 Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing examining the role of data brokers in the digital economy.   From CNBC:   The letters ask whether the brokers consider any type of data to be off limits for them to buy or sell, what restrictions they put on data they share with third parties and how they verify the accuracy of the data they collect and distribute. Additional questions span from seeking to understand how much money the businesses make from selling data to how many sources they use to get that information.   Last month, the subcommittee on oversight and investigations held a hearing with expert witnesses to examine “the role of data brokers in the digital economy.” The letters indicate the committee remains focused on this slice of the tech industry as it looks to pass comprehensive privacy legislation. It also shows that Congress is focused on a broader swath of companies than just the massive players like Google and Facebook that attract so much scrutiny.   CLICK HERE to read more.