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


Jan 25, 2024
Blog

Advocates Agree: Congress Needs to Act to Protect Student Athletes' NIL Rights

Stakeholders across the college sports community agree, the pillars of the FAIR College Sports Act will help preserve the rights of student athletes, protect them from bad actors, and ensure they can benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). We’ve heard from student athletes themselves, as well as universities, conferences, and others, all of whom are emphasizing the need for clearer NIL guidelines, protection of amateur status, and increased transparency requirements for agents, boosters, and collectives. Lead Bill Sponsor and Chair of the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Rep. Gus Bilirakis: “The goal of this bill is to establish a clear set of rules, so that young people are protected, opportunities for them promoted, and amateur sports of all kinds are preserved, and does so without expanding government.” Meredith Page of Radford University testifies before the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Here is what advocates are saying: President Charlie Baker, National Collegiate Athletic Association “I am grateful to Chairman Bilirakis for his support of college sports and for introducing draft legislation designed to protect this enterprise we all love. The Association applauds his efforts to support student-athletes and create a level-playing field by preempting state NIL laws and proposing important protections for college athletes. Importantly, this proposal addresses the critical issues of student-athlete employment and ongoing, unsustainable litigation by our conferences and schools.” Meredith Page, Student Athlete, Radford University Volleyball “A cohesive set of rules ensures that every student-athlete, regardless of their program or location, can benefit from their NIL without unnecessary complications. Guardrails help maintain the integrity of collegiate sports while offering student-athletes the chance to capitalize on their personal brand. It’s not just about the present, but also about creating a sustainable and fair system for future generations of student-athletes." Keke Tholl, Student Athlete, University of Michigan Softball “My biggest concern, though, is what employment status would mean for supporting all sports. If student-athletes are made into employees, budget impacts would mean that many universities likely cannot, and will not, support all sports. We then face yet another Title IX issue with the major revenue generators being male student-athletes, leaving women’s sports to again face an uncertain reality.” The Four Historically Black Athletic Conferences (4HBAC) “To protect all that we have accomplished on our HBCU campuses, we ask for your support in passing laws that, when necessary, pre-empt state law, to create clear and fair playing fields for HBCU student-athletes. Such legislation will allow for consistent and nimble national governance with consumer protections. Most importantly, we seek special status for student-athletes to ensure they are not designated as employees of their institutions.” The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (ULC) “Athletes in states without NIL laws have been able to engage in a wide variety of NIL activities that are prohibited under the laws of other states. This patchwork of state laws has thus led to disparate NIL benefits and opportunities for college athletes dictated almost entirely by the state law, if any, that governs their institution. These differences have become even more magnified as varying NIL laws have impacted the recruiting cycle and influenced the enrollment decisions of prospective college athletes and the transfer decisions of current college athletes.”  […]  “Without uniform regulation of NIL, it appears increasingly likely that the NCAA and other athletic organizations will be unable to prevent illegitimate NIL activity that threatens to upend the collegiate model of sports.” Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) “Codifying federal law over state law in the NIL space is essential to establish uniformity, clarity, fairness, and national oversight. It would promote equal opportunities for college athletes, avoid compliance burdens, and ensure a consistent framework for navigating the complexities of NIL. By taking a comprehensive and unified approach, Congress can provide a stable and predictable environment for student-athletes to exercise their NIL rights while preserving the integrity and competitiveness of college sports.”  […] “We implore you to take decisive action in support of federal legislation addressing NIL and student-athlete employment-status in college sports. By enhancing safeguards, affirming the unique university-student-athlete relationship, providing safe harbor for the NCAA, and establishing federal preemption in certain areas, we can bring stability, fairness, and consistency to the evolving NIL landscape.” Commissioner Jeff Jackson, The Missouri Valley Conference “The FAIR Act represents a critical bipartisan effort that goes a long way and is an important step forward in bringing clarity to the NIL process and protections for our student athletes. It recognizes the historic relationship between an academic institution and a student-athlete and protects against recent attempts to reclassify these students as employees, a move that would negatively impact the ability of most universities to offer the scholarship-level competition that has become so much a fabric of their campuses.”



Jan 18, 2024
Hearings

Chair Rodgers Opening Remarks on Protecting Student Athletes’ Dealmaking Rights

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee legislative hearing to discuss establishing a national framework to protect the rights of student athletes to earn compensation and sign agents to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).  “Thank you to our witnesses for joining us today.  “I want to take a moment to thank Chair Bilirakis for his exhaustive process over the past year to bring parties together and recognize my colleagues, Representative Dingell and Senator Lujan—an alum of this committee—for their work with him to find a path forward on this important issue.   “Every one of us takes great pride in the universities and colleges in our home states. We all want our student athletes to be successful, both on and off the field.  “Today’s hearing is the next step in our regular order process.   “This is an opportunity to continue the dialogue, address outstanding concerns, and hear from the student athletes who will benefit most from a clear set of uniform rules and protections.”  NIL PATCHWORK BURDENS STUDENTS   “To ensure that amateur athletes have every chance to succeed in life and in sports, we must give them clear guidance.  “Today, we have the opportunity to hear from several of these athletes, Ms. Meredith Page, a Division I volleyball player at Radford University, Ms. Keke Tholl, a member of the University of Michigan softball team, and Mr. Chase Griffin, a football player at UCLA.  “We appreciate you sharing your stories with us.   “Your experience navigating this complex topic is critical as members work to refine the discussion draft under consideration.   “The current patchwork of state laws is confusing for athletes, schools, and conferences alike.  “It is unreasonable to expect student athletes to balance their studies while navigating a maze of complex and conflicting laws.  “They are put in an unwinnable position of running afoul of rules they would need a law firm to provide counsel on.  “This can be detrimental to their educational experience, as well as their savings and future career.   “I recently heard about a draft NIL agreement with a collective which agreed to pay an athlete $1.5 million over two years.  “Hidden in the fine print was a provision which allowed the collective 'from time to time' to ask for repayment of that money plus a 10 percent interest for commission and expenses.   “These provisions applied even if that agreement were to be terminated.  “This behavior is abhorrent, predatory and is exactly what we are trying to prevent with this legislation.  “With one national standard, we can shield student athletes from such bad actors, provide transparency into the evolving NIL marketplace, and allow athletes to focus on succeeding on the field and in the classroom.  “We need to get this right in order to protect the rights for millions of young Americans to continue receiving an education and competing in the sports they love.”  PROTECTING PROGRAMS OF ALL SIZES   “Furthermore, while some sports at the highest level are profitable, most student athletes are competing in sports that are non-revenue generating.  “Yet many of these programs continue to be paths for students pursuing higher education and for some to even represent our country to the world.  “For instance, in the 2020 Tokyo games, over 80 percent of U.S. Medalists had ties to a collegiate program, with more than 170 U.S. institutions of higher learning being a training ground for Olympians.  “Some proposals currently being discussed, along with the uncertainty created by a patchwork of state laws, jeopardize these opportunities for young people and could prevent them from accessing a college degree program.     “It would mean that many small schools, including historically black colleges and universities, and others could be forced to eliminate their sports programs altogether.  “Our proposal would ensure these programs are preserved for student athletes across the country.  “These collegiate athletes are more than just athletes—they are students, small business owners, podcasters, entrepreneurs, and more.  “They deserve clear guidelines and transparency.  “NIL is a long-overdue means of compensation for student athletes across our country.  “Every student athlete deserves the opportunity to succeed in their sport and in their life.   “There are many other important conversations currently happening in collegiate sports that aren’t necessarily specific to the issue of NIL—for instance, Title IX—which other committees are actively engaging on.  “As we continue this discussion, I encourage all my colleagues—in the House and Senate—as well as stakeholders, to work with us in providing the best protections and opportunities possible for student athletes.” 



Jan 18, 2024
Press Release

Chair Bilirakis Opening Remarks on Protecting Student Athletes’ Dealmaking Rights

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s subcommittee legislative hearing to discuss establishing a national framework to protect the rights of student athletes to earn compensation and sign agents to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).    CURRENT WILD-WEST NIL LANDSCAPE “Last year, our Subcommittee held an educational hearing on this topic of Name, Image, and Likeness in collegiate athletics where we heard from student athletes, university presidents, athletic directors, and others involved in this rapidly growing field. “On the heels of this season’s College Football National Championship game, where the University of Michigan Wolverines defeated the University of Washington Huskies, there has never been a better time to address this topic. And I do want to say congratulations to the Wolverines and Michigan fans nationwide, including my friends Debbie Dingell and Tim Walberg, for their victory. “I want to be clear today—NIL is great for players, and the change was long overdue. At the same time, the sudden transition to NIL has enabled a ‘wild-west’ environment where pay-for-play is rampant. “The purchasing of players has set college athletics on an unsustainable path. To ensure a long-term future for college athletics, we must promote safe guardrails and a level playing field. “There is no doubt that Congress needs to act. Unfortunately, the NIL landscape is complicated because the NCAA created many of the problems to begin with and has since struggled to get a handle on this evolving landscape. “I am certainly among those who have been concerned with some of the Association’s recent activities while supportive of others, and I look forward to hearing President Baker’s testimony.” PROTECTING SMALLER ATHLETIC PROGRAMS “As money has poured in from boosters, collectives, and corporate entities to purchase players for their favorite team, small schools and non-revenue generating sports are often forgotten. “Meanwhile, I believe we are losing sight of the educational opportunities and values that defines the student experience in universities across our nation. “Some have further advocated for students as employees or for forced revenue-sharing schemes, both of which have the potential to end many women’s sports programs and significantly reduce our Olympic pipeline. In the 2020 Tokyo games, almost 82 percent of American medalists had direct ties to a collegiate program. “So, while the courts have settled the debate on NIL compensation broadly, it has become necessary for Congress to step in and provide some common-sense rules of the road." FAIR COLLEGE SPORTS ACT “Today we are considering my discussion draft proposal the FAIR College Sports Act. The goal of this bill is to establish a clear set of rules, so that young people are protected, opportunities for them promoted, and amateur sports of all kinds are preserved, and does so without expanding government. “The FAIR College Sports Act has received an open and robust stakeholder feedback process over the past 8 months. I don’t believe this should be a partisan issue, and I’m excited to formally begin a public discussion on NIL legislation and know that we can come together to build consensus. “I’m grateful to our former colleague Senator Ben Ray Lujan for his efforts to move the ball forward on this issue with me. “I also particularly want to thank Rep. Dingell, who has committed to working with me to find a path forward. I know she has some concerns with the current draft, and I’m sure there are issues that we won’t fully agree on. But this is why we have legislative hearings and run a regular order process to discuss these matters and work on them together . “It is important to remember that Energy & Commerce is where bipartisan proposals flourish and become law. NIL should be one of those examples. “I also want to call out the three student athletes represented on the panel today: Meredith Page Keke Tholl, and Chase Griffin. You are the reason why we do this. “With a thoughtful and balanced framework, I’m confident we can provide stability to collegiate athletics while ensuring to protect athletes, promote fair play, and preserve the sports we know and love.”


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

Greg Pence

R

Indiana – District 6

Kelly Armstrong

R

North Dakota - At Large

Rick Allen

R

Georgia – District 12

Russ Fulcher

R

Idaho – District 1

Diana Harshbarger

R

Tennessee – District 1

Kat Cammack

R

Florida – District 3

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.