Privacy Groups Seek Equal Time on Hill

Now that the Senate Commerce Committee has signaled it will be having another privacy hearing this month with civil society groups, those groups want to make sure they are getting at least equal time and attention.

The committee held a hearing Sept. 26 with top execs from social media platforms and ISPs--AT&T, Charter, Amazon, Apple, Twitter and Google.

Before the hearing, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) pointed out that that panel was all industry.

In the letter this week to committee chair John Thune (R-S.D.), who had addressed the issue at the earlier hearing by assuring civil society groups they would have a seat at the witness table in the next hearing, CDD and a host of other groups said they appreciated his interest but that they still had concerns that the earlier hearing was "unnecessarily biased."

"Many of the problems consumers face, as well as the solutions we would propose, were simply never mentioned," they told Thune. "There is little point in asking industry groups how they would like to be regulated....[T]he absence of consumer advocates at the first hearing was also missed opportunity for a direct exchange about points made by the industry witnesses."

They also had some suggestions for their hearing: "[W]e ask that you invite six consumer privacy experts to testify before the Committee. We would also suggest that you organize an additional panel with other experts and enforcement officials, including Dr. Jelenik, the Chair of the European Data Protection Board, as well as State Attorneys General, who are now on the front lines of consumer protection in the United States."

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.