Legislators in Washington, D.C. have begun processing a shift in the balance of power as Democrats prepare to take unified control of Congress. Key Democrats who are Minority Leaders on their respective committees now are preparing to take the gavels on the groups overseeing tech and telecom issues, especially 5G. They are:
- Maria Cantwell (WA), Senate Energy & Commerce: The Washington state lawmaker will have the power to lead negotiations on data privacy legislation, pushing for priorities like giving consumers a right to sue tech companies, according to Politico. She will also be crucial for any Senate overhaul of Section 230 tech liability protections.
Concerning telecom specifically, she has criticized some FCC decisions on spectrum, challenging efforts by both Republican and Democratic Commissioners to favor commercial wireless priorities over military and transportation needs. She can also shape efforts to expand broadband and foster local and diverse media.
- Mark Warner (VA), Select Committee on Intelligence: The former telecom executive spent much of 2020 fighting to secure funding for more secure ways to build out 5G networks.
“Top tech priorities in the next Congress must be combating technology-related threats from China (including 5G), badly-needed reforms to Section 230, and comprehensive privacy legislation, which offers a vehicle to address adjacent problematic practices like the use of dark patterns,” the Virginia legislator recently told Politico.
- Gary Peters (MI), Senate Homeland Security: The Michigan lawmaker has pushed for 5G security, helping to pull together “Rip & Replace” legislation aimed at reimbursing small, rural telecoms for removing untrusted gear from their networks. As a longtime member of Senate Commerce and the AI Caucus, Peters is familiar with FCC dynamics and other tech policy issues.
- Amy Klobuchar (MN), Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee: The Minnesota lawmaker recently said she’d make tackling the “outsized power” of the tech giants one of her top priorities this Congress, including pushing to make it easier to sue companies and boost the authority of antitrust enforcers. Klobuchar said other priorities will include passing a comprehensive data privacy bill, pushing to “stop election interference and the spread of disinformation online.”
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