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Rep. Doyle 'Disappointed' With ISP Congressional Review Act Letter

Count House Communications Subcommittee ranking member Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) among those not eager to use Congressional Review Act authority to invalidate the FCC's broadband privacy framework, but he suggested he was willing to work on an approach to balance the privacy requirements on ISPs and edge providers.

Doyle made that clear at the subcommittee's first hearing—on reauthorizing the National Telecommunications & Information Administration—of the new Congress and first presided over by new chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

Among the witnesses was CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker, whose group joined with NCTA: The Internet & Television Association, American Cable Association, USTelecom and others to suggest Congress use that power to undo a framework they point out does not apply to edge-provider data collectors like Google and Facebook.

Baker said at the hearing that she would support a regime that treated both her members and edge providers equally.

Doyle took the opportunity to express his unhappiness with that effort. He conceded it was not relevant to the NTIA re-authorization but said he wanted it on the record that he was "disappointed" that those associations had urged the Congress to use "such a blunt and untested tool to remove privacy protections for hundreds of millions of Americans." But he did say he thought there was a better way to work on that issue, and was looking forward to working with her on it. 

Doyle also said he was working on a bill to free up government spectrum for commercial use—NTIA oversees government spectrum, while the FCC oversees commercial spectrum.

"I'm beginning to work on legislation to free up at least an additional 20 Megahertz of federal spectrum below 3 Gigahertz for commercial use," he told Baker, asking whether her industry would support it. "Absolutely," said Baker.

Doyle suggested to Blackburn that perhaps it could be made part of the re-authorization or as part of a proposed infrastructure package.

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.