Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation

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A collection of the latest records posted to U.S. Senate Committee On Commerce, Science, & Transportation.
Updated: 2 hours 13 min ago

Ranking Member Bill Nelson opening statement

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:05pm

Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing today to consider nominees for two critical independent agencies: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Let me start with the nomination of Geoffrey Starks to be a commissioner on the FCC.

Mr. Starks, welcome and congratulations on your nomination.

You will join what I believe to be one of the most important consumer protection agencies at a defining moment in its history.

The current FCC majority has spent the past year and a half abandoning the agency’s statutory authority and responsibilities.

Time and time again, the current FCC majority has turned their backs on consumers. 

When they eliminated net neutrality rules and gave up FCC authority to protect consumers online, the FCC majority ignored the critical role that unfettered access to a free and open internet plays in Americans’ lives – and the role that the nation’s expert agency should play.

The FCC is also determined to undercut – and do permanent damage to – the great American tradition of local broadcasting preserved through its media ownership rules.

And these are just two examples of a larger trend. 

From preempting state, local and tribal authorities to threatening the future of the Lifeline program that helps make phone and internet service affordable for low-income Americans, this FCC seems determined to fulfill special interest wish lists rather than protect those least able to protect themselves. 

Right now, FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel alone is holding the line for consumers and the public interest.

We need to get you confirmed quickly, Mr. Starks, so that you can partner with her to stand up for the public interest instead of powerful special interests and fight against the dismantling of the FCC’s core principles.

Much will be expected of you, Mr. Starks – and I look forward to working with you to meet these challenges.

Also, Mr. Chairman, I have a letter from Senator Schumer in support of Mr. Starks that I would like to put into the record.

I also want to welcome Mr. Peter Feldman, who is well known to us, as a current staffer for Chairman Thune.

I appreciate Mr. Feldman’s past work on mandatory consumer product safety standards.

In Florida during last year’s hurricane season, we lost at least twelve lives due to carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators.

We are still gathering statistics, but it is likely that other lives were lost in Puerto Rico from portable generator carbon monoxide deaths.

For years, I have urged the CPSC to adopt a mandatory safety standard for portable generator to stop these senseless deaths.

Unfortunately, the acting chairman of the CPSC continues to defer to portable generator industry on this issue.

Hurricane season is now upon us and more people will die from carbon monoxide poisoning if we don’t address this issue pronto.

So, Mr. Feldman, with your experience in the Senate I really hope you will approach this position with far more openness than the current acting chairman.

So, with that Mr. Chairman, I now look forward to hearing from the nominees.

Testimony

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:29am

Testimony

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:27am

<p>Good morning. Thank you to our

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:20am

Good morning. Thank you to our nominees, Peter Feldman and Geoffrey Starks, for being here and for your willingness to serve in the important positions to which you have been nominated.

I would also like to say thank you to the families attending today’s hearing and supporting the nominees. I’d would especially like to recognize Peter Feldman’s father, Clifford Feldman, who is here with us today and just received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal for his work with NASA Television, and its coverage of the 2017 solar eclipse. I also want to wish Peter’s mother, Susan Feldman, a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, she could not be here today, but I know both are extremely proud and supportive of Peter.

Peter Feldman who is a member of my staff, and is well-known to this Committee for his role leading bipartisan efforts in consumer protection, product safety, oversight, and investigations, has been nominated to serve as a Commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Throughout his time as a staffer, Peter has been instrumental in negotiating significant consumer protection, product safety, and sports legislation including: the bipartisan Consumer Review Freedom Act, a bill which prohibits businesses from inserting clauses into their contracts that limit the ability of their customers to criticize products and services online, and the bipartisan Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which prohibits the use of ticket bots, which can distort the market for event ticket sales. Most recently, he worked on the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, which unambiguously charged the U.S. Olympic Committee with the duty to provide a safe environment for sports and athletes as well as authorizing the U.S. Center for Safe Sport.

Not surprisingly, Peter has received support for his nomination from safety advocates and industry stakeholders alike. At an agency that has sometimes been hampered by partisanship, it is my firm belief that if confirmed, Peter’s background and experience on Capitol Hill, where he has shown an ability to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, will be an asset and a force for collaborative solutions at the agency.

Our second nominee, Geoffrey Starks, has been nominated to serve as a Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Mr. Starks currently serves as assistant bureau chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau where he is responsible for enforcing the Commission’s rules, orders, licensing terms, and conditions. Prior to his tenure at the FCC, he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General from 2013 to 2015 where he provided advice to the Deputy Attorney General on domestic and international law enforcement.

If confirmed, Mr. Starks will have a voice on the many critical matters before the Commission. Some, as this Committee knows well, can be contentious. I have long advocated that the hyper-partisanship of the last Commission must come to an end. Mr. Starks, while I understand that not all issues before the FCC can be decided on a bipartisan basis, given the Commission’s role in overseeing regulatory matters that affect our economy and everyday lives, it is important that members of the FCC seek opportunities for common ground and I encourage you to try to do that as often as possible.

Since Chairman Pai has become the chairman of the FCC, he has made a number of important reforms to improve the agency’s processes and transparency, including publicly releasing text of all agenda items in advance of Commission meetings and instituting a process of sharing documents with other commissioners before discussing them publicly. It is my hope that this spirit of openness, transparency, and collaboration at the FCC is continued, and it is my hope that Mr. Starks will embrace this approach if confirmed.

Again, thank you both for your willingness to serve. With that, I turn to the Ranking Member for his opening statement.

Nominations Hearing

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:00am

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, to consider two presidential nominees. 

Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations  

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Geoffrey Adam Starks, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Federal Communications Commission
  • Mr. Peter Aaron Feldman, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Testimony

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 10:22am

Testimony

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 10:19am

<p>Good afternoon. Welcome to the

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 3:41am

Good afternoon. Welcome to the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security Subcommittee’s hearing on “Cambridge Analytica and Other Facebook Partners: Examining Data Privacy Risks.” The subcommittee will come to order. 

Earlier this year, reports surfaced regarding a Personality Test Application called “thisisyourdigitallife” founded in 2014 that was hosted on Facebook and downloaded by approximately 300,000 Facebook users who consented to the collection of data from their profiles. 

However, Facebook rules for third party applications at that time allowed users to consent on behalf of their Facebook “friends” for their profile information to be collected too. This arrangement allowed this application to collect data from tens of millions of Facebook users by gaining the affirmative consent of only 300,000 users. The application also shared this information with a data analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica, which worked with political campaigns on targeted advertising. 

It is alleged that other applications participated in similar collection practices, but Facebook changed their terms of service to prohibit this practice in 2015. While Facebook sought assurances from Cambridge Analytica and developers of the Personality Test Application that the user data in question was deleted, media reports earlier this year indicated that they were not.

Following the calls of concern from Congress and public alike, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed in March that the agency was investigating the privacy practices of Facebook and the company’s compliance with the consent order issued by the FTC in July 2012 to resolve allegations that the firm violated the FTC Act, which prohibits deceptive and unfair practices in or affecting commerce.

There have since been additional consumer protection concerns flagged against Facebook including reports that over the last decade, Facebook established partnerships called “application programming interfaces” with approximately sixty mobile device manufacturers in an effort to provide private data channels for the manufacturers. While Facebook has since provided some clarity on the purpose of these partnerships, outstanding questions remain regarding the role of Chinese telecommunications manufacturers.  

This hearing follows a joint hearing between the full Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee in which we heard from CEO and Chairman of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg on the company’s data collection and sharing arrangements with third parties and how its users’ privacy is safeguarded.  

Additionally, I co-authored letters with my colleagues Chairman Thune and Senator Wicker to Facebook and Strategic Communication Laboratories, the British parent company of Cambridge Analytica, to provide answers to their specific dealings with one another related to consumers’ data.

My goal today is to hear from subject matter experts in the use of social media data for commercial, political and research purposes. The examination of the state of research surrounding social media data and targeted advertisements is critical in enabling this subcommittee to better identify necessary steps to protect consumers.

It is my pleasure to introduce our expert panel today. Thank you all for being here.

Mr. John Battelle is the Chief Executive Officer for NewCo and a member of the Board of Directors at Acxiom Corporation, a data broker company that formerly partnered with Facebook. He also founded Wired Magazine and authored international best-seller The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture in 2005. 

Dr. Aleksandr Kogan is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge who designed the controversial Personality Test App that collected user data of Facebook’s consenting users and their friends. Facebook alleges that he violated their policies by sharing information with Cambridge Analytica, and his testimony will provide additional perspective for the subcommittee’s considerations related to the recent scandal.

Mr. Ashkan Soltani is a technology expert with Soltani LLC. With more than 20 years of experience as a consultant and researcher focused on technology, privacy and behavioral economics, he served as a technical expert to a number of consumer protection agencies including the FTC and State Attorneys General. He recently served as the Chief Technologist of the FTC where he led a number of investigations into technology and internet companies. 

Additionally, David Sumpter, a professor of mathematics at Uppsala University in Sweden, has analyzed some of the issues relating to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Although he could not appear today, he has submitted written testimony for the record titled “Why the Facebook data available to Cambridge Analytica could not be used to target personalities in the US Presidential election.” I ask unanimous consent that his testimony be admitted into the record. Without objection, it is so ordered.

I look forward to hearing the testimonies of this expert witness panel. I now turn to my colleague Ranking Member Blumenthal for his opening remarks.

Cambridge Analytica and Other Facebook Partners: Examining Data Privacy Risks

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 3:30am

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing entitled, “Cambridge Analytica and Other Facebook Partners: Examining Data Privacy Risks,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.  The hearing is a follow-up to a joint full committee hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with a focus on the collection and use of social media data, the privacy concerns raised in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, and potential steps to protect consumers.


Witnesses:

To Be Announced

Hearing Details: 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Testimony

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 2:27am

Testimony

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 2:24am

Committee Announces Hearing for Presidential Nominees to the FCC and CPSC

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 1:00pm

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, to consider two presidential nominees. 

Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations  

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Geoffrey Adam Starks, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Federal Communications Commission
  • Mr. Peter Aaron Feldman, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Examining Social Media Data Use and Privacy Concerns

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 1:00pm

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing entitled, “Cambridge Analytica and Other Facebook Partners: Examining Data Privacy Risks,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.  The hearing is a follow-up to a joint full committee hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with a focus on the collection and use of social media data, the privacy concerns raised in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, and potential steps to protect consumers.

Witnesses:

To Be Announced

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

2:30 p.m.

Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Senator Presses Federal Regulator on Spontaneous Kia and Hyundai Fires

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 1:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A key U.S. senator wants to know what’s behind a series of spontaneous non-collision-related fires affecting Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

In a letter sent today to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) called on the agency to detail what steps it’s taking to address the fires, including whether a safety defect investigation is being conducted.

A review undertaken by the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) recently found that there were more than 120 complaints filed with NHTSA involving non-collision-related fires in Kia and Hyundai vehicles. 

“Spontaneous fires are serious safety hazards and should not be taken lightly,” wrote Nelson, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the automotive industry.  “We have to find out what is causing these fires and what can be done to prevent them.  Owners need to know if their vehicles are safe.” 

According to news reports and NHTSA complaint filings, there have been at least 23 incidents of spontaneous fires in Florida involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles since 2014.  

Just last month, an Ocala woman was forced to pull over and flee her 2012 Kia Sorento after it caught fire while she was driving on I-4.  That incident came on the heels of two separate fires involving parked and unoccupied Kia vehicles in the Tampa area this spring.   

Click here to read Nelson’s letter.

Oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 11:00am

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.  As part of the Committee’s oversight responsibilities, this hearing will examine the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the agency’s role in managing federal spectrum and representing U.S. interests with the global internet multistakeholder community. Additionally, the hearing will look at how NTIA is working to deliver a modern National Broadband Map capable of providing better service availability data, along with other major policy issues before NTIA.

Witness:

  • The Honorable David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, NTIA, U.S. Department of Commerce

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

<p>Welcome to today&rsquo;s hearing on

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 4:22am

Welcome to today’s hearing on oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

This is Assistant Secretary Redl’s first appearance before the Committee since his nomination was approved by the Senate last November.

We welcome you back and look forward to hearing what NTIA has accomplished under your leadership and what you have planned for the future.

As you know, it is NTIA’s mission to advise the President on domestic and international telecommunications and information policy issues.

This makes NTIA a major driver in fulfilling the Commerce Department’s mission to promote job creation and economic growth while making sure the Federal government has the spectrum it needs.

NTIA has a critical role to play in ensuring that Americans benefit from next-generation telecommunications technology and the United States maintains its leadership in such technology.

Maintaining American leadership will require the identification of more spectrum for next-generation services, both licensed and unlicensed, including spectrum currently allocated for federal use.

It’s important that we build upon the success of the recently enacted MOBILE NOW Act, which I sponsored along with Ranking Member Nelson, to ensure that spectrum will be available for new technologies, including 5G.

This will make it easier to deploy networks that deliver better, faster internet to rural areas and across the country.

Earlier this year, NTIA took a good first step and announced that it has identified 100 megahertz of spectrum—the 3450 to 3550 megahertz band—for potential repurposing for commercial wireless innovation.

I am glad to see NTIA move so quickly on a priority outlined in MOBILE NOW.

But as I have stated many times, MOBILE NOW was just a down payment.

There is much more to do to ensure that the American economy reaps the benefits of next-generation telecommunications.

We will look to you to help ensure that America’s spectrum resources are used efficiently.

I look forward to hearing how you intend to do more, and whether NTIA has all the tools it needs to get the job done.

Of course, identifying and freeing up spectrum is only part of the equation.

Knowing what parts of the country are unserved and prioritizing deployment in those areas is crucial to closing the digital divide.

Mapping broadband availability relies on the quality of broadband data.

Since the initial deployment of broadband in the 1990s, two federal agencies have implemented broadband data mapping initiatives—NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission.

While each agency has identified areas of the nation in need of further development, everyone can agree that such mapping can and should be improved.

That is why, earlier this year, NTIA was appropriated funds to deliver a modern National Broadband Map, which hopefully will provide more accurate mapping of the current state of broadband access across the nation.

On the topic of deployment, FirstNet, which operates as an independent authority within NTIA, has awarded a 25-year, $6.5 billion contract to AT&T to build out a nationwide public safety network.

As of January 19, 2018, all states, five territories, and the District of Columbia had opted into the public safety network.

FirstNet has established a schedule with goals for deploying the network and milestones for public safety user adoption and I am very pleased to see that the Oglala Sioux Police Department in South Dakota is leading the way in implementing FirstNet.

The state-of-the-art technology will allow the Oglala Sioux officers to better serve and protect tribal members and the public generally.

I am interested to hear what oversight efforts NTIA is conducting to ensure FirstNet meets its deployment and adoption goals throughout the country to safeguard the speedy and efficient deployment of this network, especially in rural and hard-to-reach areas.

Our first responders deserve nothing less.

Also, NTIA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been jointly tasked with providing $115 million in grants to support the implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1 nationwide.

It is important that joint undertakings between differing agencies run smoothly.

Getting the most effective use out of taxpayer dollars for this critical service is something the Commerce Committee is paying close attention to and hopes to hear an update about today.

Finally, on the issue of Internet governance, as of October 1, 2016, NTIA allowed its contracts with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to expire, transferring NTIA’s stewardship role and procedural authority over key Internet domain name functions to a global Internet multistakeholder community.

Earlier this month, NTIA released a Notice of Inquiry seeking comments on “its international Internet policy priorities.”

I am interested to hear about how NTIA can leverage its resources and expertise to ensure the growth and openness of the internet.

Again, I want to thank Assistant Secretary Redl for being here and now I turn it over to the Ranking Member.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 3:23am

I want to welcome Assistant Secretary Redl.  Oversight of the entities within our jurisdiction, such as NTIA, is one of the most important responsibilities of this committee.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your commitment that we would have regular oversight hearings.  In that vein, I think we are due for an oversight hearing that includes all sitting members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).   

FCC Chairman Pai has initiated the most aggressive deregulatory – and in my opinion, anti-consumer – agenda in the history of the FCC.  Those actions demand the scrutiny of this committee.  I look forward to that oversight hearing soon.

Back to Mr. Redl.  You are the principal advisor to the president on telecommunications and information policy issues.  You speak with the voice of the administration on these issues both domestically and internationally.  This committee has a number of questions for you.

First, we have been told for over a year that infrastructure was a key priority of this administration – and that broadband would be an essential component of an infrastructure plan. I support this fully.  

While the state of Florida has been blessed with some of the nation’s most advanced internet networks, the reality is that in places from rural Dixie, Levy and Gilchrist counties to the heart of Jacksonville, constituents and businesses still lack access to quality, affordable, high-speed internet access.  

These areas are being left behind.  We need to hear from you as to why this administration has no plan to provide real, tangible support for internet network construction in these areas.

Second, this administration seems to have dismissed the concerns many in the Senate, the intelligence community and the nation have about the potential threat posed to our national security by Huawei and ZTE.  The administration’s simply needs to revert back to a ban on ZTE.  

We need to hear how you respond to the grave concerns raised with respect to the effectiveness of the penalties levied on the company in lieu of the ban. 

Third, this administration’s relationships with our international colleagues appear to be at an all-time low.  These relationships are essential to your work with our partners to preserve a free and open internet, harmonize spectrum and establish basic norms for international telecommunications regulation.  

In particular, important decisions will be made during next year’s World Radiocommunication Conference regarding the international framework for next-generation wireless systems and satellite communications.  We also want to hear that our government can be trusted to uphold our end of any bargains you may reach in these international forums.

Finally, let me end by acknowledging the important work that the NTIA has performed under your leadership.  

Specifically, I am pleased that the national 9-1-1 program that you operate jointly with NHTSA is finally moving forward on its next generation 9-1-1 grant program.  As you know, Senator Klobuchar and I have introduced legislation to expand and enhance that grant program and help states and localities make next generation 9-1-1 systems a reality throughout the nation.  

Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the horrific Pulse nightclub attack.  Had the federal government helped states and localities deploy next generation 9-1-1 sooner, the brave men and women who manned the Orlando-area call centers would have had access to more advanced tools to respond to this tragedy.  For example, we know from reports that some of victims in the club who were afraid to make a voice call tried to text 9-1-1 but could not.

This is a national priority – lives are on the line.  I hope and expect that you will continue to work cooperatively with us as we try to advance this proposal.

And thank you again, Mr. Redl, for your willingness to serve the public in this vital role. 

Legislation Introduced to Protect North Atlantic Right Whales

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 1:00pm
Fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remaining in world...

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