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House Comm Subcommittee Schedules Universal Service, Online Privacy Hearings

The House Communications Subcommittee has scheduled hearings next week on universal service and online privacy.

According to a just-released agenda, the subcommittee will hold a hearing Nov. 17 on the Universal Service Reform Act of 2009. The bill, a draft of which was circulated last week, is co-sponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and would extend the industry-supported FCC's Universal Service Fund from funding traditional telephone service in hard-to-reach or uneconomical-to-reach places to funding broadband deployment in those same areas.

It would also set a minimum speed for service that qualifies for the government-administered subsidy.

On Nov. 19, the committee will hold a hearing on "Exploring the Offline and Online Collection and Use of Consumer Information." Boucher has said an online consumer privacy bill is one of his legislative priorities.

According to one source Chris Hoofnagle has been asked to be a witness at the consumer information hearing. Hoofnagle is the director of the U.C. Berkeley Center for Law & Technology's information privacy programs.