Innovation, Data, and Commerce

Subcommittee

Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce

Interstate and foreign commerce, including all trade matters within the jurisdiction of the full committee; consumer protection, including privacy matters generally; data security; motor vehicle safety; regulation of commercial practices (the Federal Trade Commission), including sports-related matters; consumer product safety (the Consumer Product Safety Commission); product liability; and regulation of travel, tourism, and time. The Subcommittee’s jurisdiction can be directly traced to Congress’ constitutional authority “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

Subcommittees News & Announcements


Jul 9, 2024
Hearings

Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis Opening Remarks at FTC Budget Hearing

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s subcommittee hearing titled “The Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Trade Commission Budget.”  POLITICALIZATION OF FTC “Unlike last year, this hearing will feature the full slate of all five FTC Commissioners’ testimonies, and I want to welcome the two newest commissioners, Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak.  “Thank you both for serving and being here. I look forward to hearing how you plan to balance out the perspective and representation of the FTC as it protects consumers.  “Unfortunately, up until this year, the Commission has lost its balanced approach.  “Since being confirmed over three years ago, Chair Khan has taken an aggressive stance towards the use of its authorities, leading to internal discord.  “Employee staff morale fell from 83 percent in 2020 down to 53 percent last year. I’m afraid it has lost its roots as a well-respected bipartisan law enforcement agency focused on protecting against bad actors.  “Despite restraints on statutory authority, the FTC has plowed forward out of bounds with sweeping new rulemakings, attempting to create policy in the process.  “Most notably the Commission’s 'Commercial Surveillance and Data Security' Proposed Rulemaking is an overreach and raises significant legal concerns.”  FAILURE OF TRANSPARENCY “I was hopeful that today could be a new start, but I worry that releasing actions of the Commission less than two hours before this hearing commences is not a positive sign for transparency of the work you are engaged in.  “For instance, on pharmacy benefit managers, there is no way for either side of the dais here to analyze the interim report announced this morning, moreover, have a broader view on whether this means the Biden administration has failed to address this issue broadly at HHS.  “Commissioner Holyoak said it best: 'creating new law is the job of Congress, not the Federal Trade Commission.' Yet many of these proposed rules generously interpret existing statutory authorities in the broadest terms.  “This goes beyond the clear directives that Congress has provided. Chair Khan, I fear that your approach can cause severe damage to innovators who have become afraid of arbitrary and punitive actions by the FTC.  “These efforts, which erode public trust in the Commission, have not been successful in the courts.”  FTC MUST RETURN TO ITS MISSION “I want to reiterate what I made very clear in last year’s budget hearing—the existing charge and mission of the FTC is too important and must be prioritized.  “Every day, scam artists take advantage of seniors, children, and other unsuspecting Americans, defrauding them of billions of dollars.  “I want to ensure that the Commission is effectively using its existing authority to go after and hold these bad actors accountable, protecting Americans from deception and fraud.  “Nonetheless, this Committee has been hard at work on a bipartisan basis to provide new proportionate authorities for the Commission, this includes the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act, as well as other bipartisan efforts like the Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act , the No Hidden Fees on Extra Expenses for Stays Act , and the TICKET Act . “We are actively working towards bipartisan agreements on the American Privacy Rights Act to ensure we are providing one national privacy standard and protecting Americans’ data from being manipulated and abused without their consent, and the Kids Online Safety Act to safeguard our children from the online harms of Big Tech.  “I assure you this Subcommittee will continue to work together to support and protect consumers from harmful and deceptive practices.  “But in the process, you must regain our trust by ensuring any authority we provide will not be stretched and contorted to reach your desired result.   “I implore the Chair to work with ALL of the Commissioners, protect consumers from the real bad actors, and be faithful stewards of the law.  “I look forward to conducting this critical and necessary oversight and to hearing each of your testimonies.”



Jul 9, 2024
Press Release

Vice Chair Armstrong Opening Remarks at FTC Budget Hearing

Washington D.C. — Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chair Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) delivered the following opening remarks on behalf of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) at today’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee hearing titled “ The Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Trade Commission Budget.”  “Thank you, Chair Bilirakis for your leadership. “Chair Khan, we appreciate you testifying today, along with Commissioners Slaughter and Bedoya. “And welcome to the newest additions to the Commission, Commissioners Holyoak and Ferguson. “We appreciate all of you being here today and for your service.” FTC REGULAR ORDER “Chair Khan, the last time you were here I expressed my serious reservations over the court cases you have lost, and some of the priorities you have unilaterally undertaken without clear review and purpose. “I know you and the FTC staff have a tough job. “With what we have seen from Big Tech during my time on this Committee, I certainly have my own concerns over how they abuse their power and how best to hold them accountable in order to protect Americans. “I continue to be concerned that the FTC’s court losses are degrading the agency’s effectiveness at a critical time when we are trying to modernize the Commission’s authority to better protect Americans online, something that will be a fixture of the FTC long after the tenure of you or your fellow commissioners. “The challenges we’re working to address need strong bipartisan collaboration and consensus. “That has always been my goal with Ranking Member Pallone, and it should be the goal at the FTC as well.” FTC MUST REMAIN INDEPENDENT “The FTC also must live up to its tradition of remaining independent from political influence. “Under this administration, we have seen time and again the FTC echoing the talking points of the White House. “Just last week, we saw President Biden blame higher costs for consumers on price gouging by companies, ignoring how his own policies have caused out of control inflation, leading to high costs across the board. “Meanwhile, this Subcommittee has been leading on several bipartisan solutions to address the root causes of increased costs by strengthening American supply chains and easing the barriers facing American businesses. “More can and must be done and we need the FTC to foster an environment that both protects consumers and allows businesses to grow and innovate. “Eliminating guardrails designed to prevent government overreach—like your removal of the longstanding phrase in the FTC mission statement 'without unduly burdening legitimate business activity' or violating due process laws and the intimidation of businesses—go against the FTC’s core mission as directed by Congress. “Chair Khan, the last time you appeared before us I asked you to convince us that the FTC’s core mission, to protect Americans, was not taking a backseat to the Biden administration’s radical agenda. “You were unable to do so. “I still remain committed to establishing the FTC as the preeminent data protection agency in the world, at the direction of Congress, but before that can happen critical guardrails must be established to prevent the agency from further abusing its power and making sure its transparent and accountable to the American people. “The FTC plays a critical role in protecting Americans, here at home and threats from abroad. “As you know, over a year ago I laid out the case directly to the CEO of TikTok for the harms that his company perpetrated against our national security, American liberties, and the privacy and online safety of our kids. Had comprehensive data privacy and security legislation been in place, you would have had the tools to enforce against TikTok and other Big Tech for violating Americans’ privacy rights. “These are goals that I know we share, and I hope that we can work together to achieve them.”



Jul 2, 2024
Hearings

Chairs Rodgers and Bilirakis Announce Subcommittee Budget Hearing with Federal Trade Commission

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) announced a hearing titled “The Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Trade Commission Budget.” “The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) mission is to ensure that it enhances consumer welfare without imposing undue burdens on business. We have been very clear over the last few years via hearings, letters, and legislation when we have seen a departure from that mission,” said Chairs Rodgers and Bilirakis. “After much delay, the FTC finally has five commissioners in place. We look forward to hearing from FTC Chairwoman Khan and the other four Commissioners on how to make sure the Commission stays focused on its mission of protecting the American people from actual harms and not getting distracted by ambiguous aims and theoretical goals.” Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce hearing titled “The Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Trade Commission Budget.” WHAT: Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce hearing to discuss President Biden’s FY 2025 budget request for the Federal Trade Commission. DATE: Tuesday, July 9, 2024 TIME: 10:30 AM ET LOCATION: 2322 Rayburn House Office Building WITNESSES:   The Honorable Lina M. Khan , Chair, Federal Trade Commission  The Honorable Rebecca Kelly Slaughter , Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission  The Honorable Alvaro Bedoya , Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission  The Honorable Melissa Holyoak , Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission  The Honorable Andrew N. Ferguson , Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission This notice is at the direction of the Chair. The hearing will be open to the public and press and will be live streamed online at https://energycommerce.house.gov/ . If you have any questions concerning the hearing, please contact Alex Khlopin at Alex.Khlopin@mail.house.gov . If you have any press-related questions, please contact Sean Kelly at Sean.Kelly@mail.house.gov


Subcommittee Members

(22)

Chairman Innovation, Data, and Commerce

Gus Bilirakis

R

Florida – District 12

Vice Chair Innovation, Data, and Commerce

Tim Walberg

R

Michigan – District 5

Ranking Member Innovation, Data, and Commerce

Jan Schakowsky

D

Illinois – District 9

Larry Bucshon, M.D.

R

Indiana – District 8

Jeff Duncan

R

South Carolina – District 3

Neal Dunn, M.D.

R

Florida – District 2

Debbie Lesko

R

Arizona – District 8

Kelly Armstrong

R

North Dakota - At Large

Russ Fulcher

R

Idaho – District 1

Diana Harshbarger

R

Tennessee – District 1

Kat Cammack

R

Florida – District 3

Jay Obernolte

R

California – District 23

John James

R

Michigan – District 10

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

R

Washington – District 5

Kathy Castor

D

Florida – District 14

Debbie Dingell

D

Michigan – District 6

Robin Kelly

D

Illinois – District 2

Lisa Blunt Rochester

D

Delaware

Darren Soto

D

Florida – District 9

Lori Trahan

D

Massachusetts – District 3

Yvette Clarke

D

New York – District 9

Frank Pallone

D

New Jersey – District 6

Recent Letters


Jan 17, 2024
Press Release

E&C, China Select Committees Launch Inquiry into Taxpayer Funding Streams Funneled to CCP-Backed Researcher

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C) Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), E&C Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), E&C Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), E&C Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, launched an investigation into grants made to an AI scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  The Chairs made requests for documents to UCLA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).  BACKGROUND :  On November 1, 2023, a Newsweek investigation found that the federal government awarded at least $30 million in federal research grants led by Mr. Song-Chun Zhu, who is now “at the forefront of China's race to develop the most advanced artificial intelligence.”  The investigation further revealed the NSF and DOD continued funding Mr. Zhu even as he “set up a parallel institute near Wuhan, took a position at a Beijing university whose primary goal is to support Chinese military research, and joined a CCP ‘talent plan’ whose members are tasked with transferring knowledge and technology to China.”  In particular, Newsweek found that the project once led by Mr. Zhu received $1.2 million in two grants from the Office of Naval Research in 2021, the year following his departure to China.  KEY LETTER EXCERPT:   “Mr. Zhu has openly discussed how if China takes the lead in developing a ‘truly universal intelligence,’ then it will ‘become the winner of the international technology competition.’ He has also referred to the AI race as being equivalent in military importance to the race for the atomic bomb. In a period of intensifying geopolitical competition with the CCP, ceasing federal government support for Chinese AI development is a critical national security imperative.”  CLICK HERE to read the letter to UCLA Chancellor Gener Block.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 



Dec 20, 2023
Press Release

Chairs Rodgers and Bilirakis Press China-Based Online Marketplaces on Potential Data Privacy and Human Rights Violations

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), on behalf of subcommittee Republicans, sent a letter to China-based e-commerce companies raising concerns over data privacy and security risks for American users, the counterfeit products flourishing on these platforms, and reports of horrific human rights abuses.   BACKGROUND:   China-based e-commerce marketplaces, like TikTok, TaoBao, Pinduoduo, Temu, Alibaba, AliExpress, and Shein, have recently increased in popularity in the U.S.  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) requires that all Chinese tech companies allow the CCP to access all user information, raising serious data privacy and security concerns for Americans using these platforms .  These marketplaces commonly offer “knock off” versions of products, which often undermine intellectual property laws.  Furthermore, reports have alleged that some of the sellers on these platforms may have committed egregious human rights violations, including the use of forced labor and the selling of products, like wigs, that use hair from Uyghur women forced to shave their heads.  KEY LETTER EXCERPTS:   “The rise in popularity of apps and marketplaces like, TikTok, TaoBao, Pinduoduo, Temu, Alibaba, AliExpress, and Shein, has resulted in sharp public scrutiny regarding the business practices of these companies.”  […]  “Lax policies and practices are leaving American’s data at risk of theft, leading consumers to unknowingly purchase counterfeit goods. In addition to these lax policies and practices, it is important to ensure that supply chains are free of forced labor.”  The Chairs asked companies to respond to the following questions by January 12, 2024:   Please outline the steps taken to delete personal data when requested or ordered by a user, the parent of a user who is a minor, or others authorized to make such a request.  What protections do you have in place to prevent children from spending large amounts of money on your platform?  What data practices do you require of your third-parties?  What data practices do you require of your service providers?  Please individually confirm you are not collecting or compiling the following information:  Religious beliefs;  Political opinions;  Genetic data;  Biometric data;  Data concerning health;  Data concerning racial or ethnic origin;  Data about minors.  Similar to ByteDance, does your company have an internal CCP Committee?  Please document all meetings, communication, or interactions you—or any other senior company executives—have had with members of the Chinese government or the CCP while serving as officers.   Can you provide a complete software bill of materials for all components and components of the components in the mobile app? Please include the developer information and country of origin for all listed components.  Where does your company store the signing key for iOS and Android applications? How is access to the signing keys managed, and who are the developers with access to the signing keys for the mobile application?  Please detail the data security and protections you have to prevent unauthorized access to such signing key.  How frequently is your mobile app or backend security tested? Are they tested by US personnel? To what security standard are they tested?  How frequently is user location data transmitted? Within how many feet is this location data measured?  What compliance procedures do you have in place to ensure compliance with the INFORM Consumers Act ?  We have heard employees of companies associated with the Chinese government, such as TikTok, disagree with notion that Uyghur people are facing a genocide in the Xinjian region of China. Do you agree that there is a genocide occurring in the Xinjiang region of China?  Are you aware of the PRC’s persecution of the Uyghur people, including the reports that Uyghur women’s heads have been shaved to be used for products that are shipped into the U.S.?  Are there products using natural hair that originate in the Xinjiang region available on your e-commerce marketplace?  Are there any other products that have originated from, or contain components or material that originated from the Xinjiang region?  Given the human rights abuses occurring in the Xinjiang region, do you require any additional steps or increased scrutiny for products coming from such region?   If yes, please explain.   Can you unequivocally state that your supply chain is free of forced labor?  What steps are you taking to ensure that your supply chain does not include forced labor?   CLICK HERE to read the full letter to TikTok.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Whaleco Inc.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Alibaba.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Shein. 



Dec 7, 2023
Press Release

House E&C, Senate Commerce Republicans Question Eventbrite over Seemingly Inconsistent Enforcement of Community Guidelines

Letter comes after Eventbrite censored conservative event while permitting pro-Hamas events Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, & Commerce Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), along with Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) today wrote Eventbrite President and CEO Julia Hartz. The letter raises concerns over Eventbrite’s enforcement practices. BACKGROUND :  On October 23, 2023, Eventbrite removed an event listing titled, “Protecting Women’s Sports with Riley Gaines,” from its platform.    This event was intended to be a public forum for participants, including female athletes, to express issues, experiences, and consequences of biological males competing in their competitions.  Eventbrite listed “Rahm 4 Palestine (GAZA): Talk & Dinner,” scheduled for October 27, featuring a headline speaker who, after the October 7 Israeli massacre, using his verified X account, publicly posted antisemitic messaging that was viewed more than 1 million times.  A sold-out conference scheduled for November 10 in Washington, D.C., “Palestine Center 2023 Annual Conference,” was promoted on Eventbrite.    In advertising this event, organizers referred to the country of Israel as “Israeli apartheid” under Eventbrite’s “About this event” tab.  KEY LETTER EXCERPTS :  “In the last few weeks, Eventbrite, it seems, has selectively enforced its terms of service by removing some events while allowing potentially violative events to remain on the site. We raise the issues below not to dictate or remove events and users from your marketplace, but to better understand your Community Guidelines enforcement process .”  […]  “We struggle to comprehend the rationale for removing this event, while other Eventbrite listings that seemingly violate several of Eventbrite’s Community Guidelines remain live, including some that feature speakers espousing allegiance to entities designated by the U.S. Government as foreign terrorist organizations.”  […]  “Because Gaines’s promotion of the widely held view to preserve women’s athletics starkly contrasts with events on Eventbrite featuring speakers sympathetic to mass murder, this leads us to wonder if pro-terrorist and antisemitic events and event speakers do not plainly violate Eventbrite’s prohibition of content that would ‘discriminate against, harass, disparage, threaten, incite violence against, or otherwise target individuals or groups based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, national origin.’ We seek information on what metrics Eventbrite uses to enforce its Community Guidelines on selected issues such as women’s athletics versus terrorism and antisemitism .”    CLICK HERE to read the full letter.