Cornyn: Judiciary Should Vet FCC Set-Top Plan Before Vote

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is the latest member of Congress to weigh in with FCC Chairman Tom wheeler on set-tops.

In a letter to Wheeler dated Tuesday (Sept. 20), Cornyn called for Wheeler to delay adopting final rules on his app-based navigation device (set-top) competition revamp until the Senate Judiciary Committee has had a chance to review the implications of the proposal for privacy and copyright.

Cornyn says the proposal would allow the FCC to dictate terms of app licenses and seems to impose a compulsory license--Wheeler insists it doesn't.

Wheeler has said privacy will still be protected and copyrights will not be violated, but he has had a hard time convincing a growing swatch of legislators from both parties.

Cornyn said the Judiciary Committee needed to review the proposal "to insure consumer privacy protections are not being overlooked in the name of device manufacturers profiting from data mining. That was a reference to the congressman's assertion that the proposal could allow device manufacturers access to a "broad range" of personally identifiable information. He also pointed out that device manufacturers would not be subject to the same privacy protections as MVPDS--MVPDs are under the FCC's authority, while manufacturers are subject to Federal Trade Commission authority, which lacks bright-line rules.

Cornyn said he looked forward to reviewing a text of the proposal and to Wheeler's engagement with the committee. Wheeler has said he still plans to vote on the item on Sept. 29, and has rejected a call by some members of Congress--from both parties--to publish the text of the item before it is voted.

Since items can be edited up until they are voted, the text is considered work product, and a work in progress, and have historically not been shared before a vote.

Related: House Judiciary Committee Will Look Into Set-Top Plan

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.