Big Tech Updates

Mar 23, 2023
Big Tech

Top 10 E&C TikTok Hearing Highlights

Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing with TikTok CEO Shou Chew to expose the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security. Americans deserve to know how much their privacy is jeopardized, and their data is manipulated by ByteDance-owned TikTok’s relationship with China. As Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said this morning:  “Banning your platform will address the immediate threats. Make no mistake, this Committee is looking to the future too. America needs to be prepared to stop the next technological tool or weapon China will use for its own strategic gain.   “We must prevent any app, website, and platform like TikTok from ever spying on Americans again, and we must provide the strongest protections possible for our children. That is why this Committee is leading on a national privacy and data security standard.”  Don’t miss these top moments: CLICK HERE to watch the full hearing.   CLICK HERE for more tweets from Energy and Commerce Republicans. 

Mar 23, 2023

Chair Rodgers to TikTok CEO: “Your Platform Should be Banned”

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered opening remarks at today’s full committee hearing titled “TikTok: How Congress Can Safeguard American Data Privacy and Protect Children from Online Harms.” Excerpts and highlights below: TIKTOK'S SURVEILLANCE STATE “Mr. Chew, you are here because the American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security. “TikTok collects nearly every data point imaginable, from people’s location, to what they type and copy, who they talk to, biometric data, and more. “Even if they’ve never been on TikTok, your trackers are embedded in sites across the web. “TikTok surveils us all and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole.” TIKTOK DOESN’T SHARE AMERICA’S VALUES “We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values—values for freedom, human rights, and innovation. “TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation. “Your platform should be banned. “I expect today you’ll say anything to avoid this outcome. “Like that you are 100 percent responsible for what TikTok does, that you suddenly endorse a national data privacy standard, that Project Texas is more than just a marketing scheme, that TikTok doesn’t harm our innocent children, or that your ties to the Chinese Communist Party through ByteDance is just a myth. “We aren’t buying it. “In fact, when you celebrate the 150 million American users on TikTok it emphasizes the urgency for Congress to act. “That is 150 million Americans that CCP can collect sensitive information on and control what we ultimately see, hear, and believe.” TIKTOK’S PRIVACY RECORD “TikTok has repeatedly been caught in the lie that it does not answer to the CCP through ByteDance. “Today, the CCP’s laws require Chinese companies like ByteDance to spy on their behalf. “That means any Chinese company must grant the CCP access and manipulation capabilities as a design feature. “Right now, ByteDance is under investigation by the DOJ for surveilling American journalists—both digital activity and physical movements through TikTok. “We also know that many of your employees still report directly to Beijing. “Internal recordings reveal there is a backdoor for China to access user data across the platform. “Your employees said quote, ‘everything is seen in China.’ “A gateway to spy is not the only way TikTok and ByteDance can do the bidding of the CCP. “TikTok has helped erase events and people China wants the world to forget. “It has even censored an American teenager, who exposed the CCP’s genocide and torture of Uyghur Muslims. “The facts show that ByteDance is beholden to the CCP and ByteDance and TiKTok are one in the same.” PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN “TikTok also targets our children. “The ‘For You’ algorithm is a tool for TikTok to own their attention and prey on their innocence. “Within minutes of creating an account, your algorithm can promote suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders to children. “It encourages challenges for them to put their lives in danger and allows adults to prey on our beautiful, beloved daughters. “It’s also a portal for drug dealers to sell illicit fentanyl that China has banned, yet, is helping Mexican cartels produce, send across our border, and poison our children. “In China, the CCP proactively prohibits this type of TikTok content that promotes death and despair to kids.” STOPPING CHINESE SPYING ON AMERICANS “From the data it collects to the content it controls, TikTok is a grave threat of foreign influence in American life. “It's been said it is like allowing the Soviet Union the power to produce Saturday morning cartoons during the Cold War but much more powerful and much more dangerous. “Banning your platform will address the immediate threats. “Make no mistake, this Committee is also looking to the future too. “America needs to be prepared to stop the next technological tool or weapon China will use for its own strategic gain. “We must prevent any app, website, and platform like TikTok from ever spying on Americans again and we must provide the strongest protections possible for our children. “That is why this Committee is leading on a national privacy and data security standard. “It restricts sensitive American data from reaching our adversaries to begin with and what Big Tech and data brokers collect, process, store, and sell. “It makes it illegal for any platform to track and target children under 17.” THE WORLD IS WATCHING “Mr. Chew, the Committee has requested that TikTok appear before us for a long time. “For those we serve, we are glad this day has finally come. “Today, the world is watching. “ByteDance is watching. “The Chinese Communist Party is watching. “But the answers you owe are to the American people, a free people who cherish their God-given unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. “They deserve the truth. “Complete honesty and the law is the standard you are being held to before this Committee as we seek to get answers and a full understanding of what happens at TikTok under your watch.”

Mar 22, 2023
In the News

Chair Rodgers on Fox News: TikTok Will say Anything to Avoid Being Banned

TikTok CEO Shou Chew will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow to testify about TikTok’s consumer privacy and data security practices, the platform’s impact on kids, and its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) jointly spoke with Fox News’ Bret Baier about the national privacy standard they are leading on together to prevent any app, website, and platform like TikTok from ever spying on Americans again. THE IMPORTANCE OF TOMORROW’S HEARING “This hearing has been long overdue. This will be the first time the CEO of TikTok, Mr. Chew, has been before any congressional committee. “It's very important that he answer for some of the repeated lies that we know about TikTok and their association with ByteDance and ultimately the Chinese Communist Party. “[We have] growing concerns about the threat that this platform, this app poses in the United States of America but also it highlights the concerns around other technological tools or weapons that China may use for their own strategic future and that's why we are joining together. “We believe it's very important that we hold TikTok accountable but also make sure that any app or platform is ultimately protecting individual Americans’ privacy and making sure that Americans are protected from harm and our children are protected from harm.” TIKTOK’s CONNECTION WITH BYTEDANCE AND THE CCP “It is clear that TikTok will say anything to ensure that it is not banned in the United States of America.” “They have said that they're not surveilling on Americans or spying on Americans and yet now we know that they were used. ByteDance used TikTok to spy on American journalists. “We know that they continue to say that their data is not going back to China and that this walled off from the Chinese Communist Party and yet we now have recordings of employees at TikTok that say that everything is seen by China.” A NATIONAL DATA PRIVACY STANDARD “There is a lot of common ground and I think the fact that Mr. Chew is going directly to the TikTok users in America, that 150 million Americans [use it], now only underscores the importance of us taking action, because Americans’ data privacy is not protected. “This platform can also be used to manipulate what people see or hear or think. “It all points to the importance of us passing a larger national privacy standard, as Mr. Pallone is joining me to [achieve], because we believe this is a clarion call as to the need for a national data privacy standard to minimize the amount of data that TikTok, Big Tech, or other data brokers are collecting to begin with, to make sure that Americans are alerted when their data is being used or stored or transferred over to countries like China and to protect our kids for those under 17. “The legislation that we propose would make it illegal to track our kids online and to make sure that private conversations are actually private, that apps and devices would be prohibited from listening to our private conversations when we haven't given them permission. “This is all really important and we need to ban TikTok and we need to pass a national data privacy law.” CLICK HERE to watch Thursday’s hearing.

Mar 1, 2023

Chair Rodgers: “People Should Trust Their Data is Being Protected.”

Washington, D.C. —  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered opening remarks at today’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee hearing titled “Promoting U.S. Innovation and Individual Liberty through a National Standard for Data Privacy.” Excerpts and highlights below: E&C’S PRIVACY SERIES “This subcommittee’s first hearing this year focused on data privacy and security to ensure America’s global competitive edge against China. “Today’s second hearing in our series will consider what a strong national data privacy standard will mean in our everyday lives to rein in Big Tech, protect kids online, and put people in charge of their data. “These discussions build on the bipartisan, bicameral American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), which we moved through the committee last year with a vote of 53-2. “That was the first time this committee reached such a milestone, and no other committee has come close on a national privacy and data security standard with the bipartisan support necessary to clear the House and make the Senate take notice.” WHY WE NEED A NATIONAL STANDARD TO PROTECT PEOPLE’S PRIVACY “This is a new Congress, with new considerations, so we must continue to improve on the legislation from last Congress and build consensus amongst stakeholders. “Bringing together experience in business, civil society, and government, is the three-legged stool that will support our efforts in developing bipartisan comprehensive privacy and data security legislation. “We must continue our work so that individuals can exercise their rights, businesses can continue to innovate, and the government’s role is clearly defined. “Today turns that conversation inward so we are preserving the engine of innovation while ensuring that we aren’t just dollar signs for data brokers and Big Tech. “They are harvesting people’s data, selling or sharing it without their knowledge, and not keeping it secure. “We need a national data privacy standard that changes the status quo regarding people’s data. “Right now, there are no robust protections. “Americans have no say over whether and where their personal data is sold and shared, they have no guaranteed way to access, delete, or correct their data, and they have no ability to stop the unchecked collection of their sensitive personal information. “This isn’t acceptable. Data brokers and Big Tech’s days of operating in the dark should be over. “People should trust their data is being protected.” STRONG PROTECTIONS FOR ALL AMERICANS “We are at an inflection point to ensure our personal information is responsibly collected so artificial intelligence is developed with our values. “We need to ensure that the metaverse doesn’t become the next frontier of exploitation for our kids. “That requires a broad comprehensive bill that will address all Americans’ data and puts even stronger guardrails around our kids. “That’s why the ADPPA included the strongest internet protections for children of any legislation last Congress.  “And its protections did not stop with kids. “ADPPA gave everyone data protections—no matter where they live and no matter their age. “We will continue to build on ADPPA this Congress and get these strong protections for kids and all Americans signed into law. “Thank you, Ranking Member Pallone and my colleagues across the aisle, for continuing to work with us. “We share the goal for strong bipartisan consensus like we had last year on ADPPA. “I look forward to today’s hearing and for our privacy series to continue on March 23rd when Tik Tok’s CEO is before the Committee.”

Mar 1, 2023

Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis: Americans Need and Deserve More Transparency Over Their Privacy

Washington, D.C. —  Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) delivered opening remarks at today’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce subcommittee hearing titled “Promoting U.S. Innovation and Individual Liberty through a National Standard for Data Privacy.” Excerpts and highlights below: PASSING BIPARTISAN SOLUTIONS FOR AMERICANS “We made great strides last Congress with the leadership of this Committee demonstrating that we can come together in a bipartisan fashion for the American people. “I look forward to continuing and completing that important work this Congress. “Earlier this week, the House passed H.R. 538, the Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act from Representatives Curtis and Moulton, with broad bipartisan support. “I want to recognize Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Cruz in the Senate for sponsoring the Senate companion bill, which I take as a strong sign that the Senate cares about Americans’ privacy. “I thank these Members for working on legislation that compliments this Committee’s broader privacy goals and provides greater transparency to Americans about the ability for devices to secretly record them. “This is just one of many examples why Congressional action on broader comprehensive privacy and data security is desperately needed and why we are holding this hearing today, the second in a series of three.” WHY WE NEED A NATIONAL STANDARD FOR DATA PRIVACY “With that I want to express my gratitude to our panelists not only for bearing with us for the early start time, but also for sharing your expertise today. “Each of you bring important insights that will help our committee advance comprehensive privacy and data security legislation this Congress. “Americans need and deserve more transparency over how their information is collected, processed, and transferred. “In the past several years, our constituents have likely noticed the internet becoming more personalized for them—whether they are seeing more targeted advertisements showing items that they’ve recently viewed on another website, or experiencing content on social media that matches what they’ve interacted with elsewhere. “To some, these practices may be viewed as more convenient for their shopping or useful for how they digest information. “But others may find this practice invasive and unsolicited. “So, let’s give Americans the right to choose if they want this or not. “Mr. Mudd, thank you for being here to walk us through how legislation can work for businesses operating in the digital ecosystem and to share your expertise about how we can both protect innovation in our economy and still give Americans freedoms to choose what to do with their personal and sensitive data. “We also need to ensure legislation works for everyone and doesn’t adversely impact our constituents or impede on the basic liberties that every American deserves. “Miss Givens, I want to thank you for your expertise on these matters, as well as for your support over the last year in advancing comprehensive legislation.” ENSURING A RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT APPROACH “Lastly, we need to ensure responsible government approach to enforcing clear rules for businesses to comply. “Companies, especially small startups, shouldn’t be subject to random or punitive letters in the mail notifying them that certain practices could be unfair or deceptive. “It is essential that the FTC enforce the laws that we as a Congress enact and specifically authorize, but not go rogue beyond the rules of the road we provide. “This type of regulatory certainty is needed for businesses to come into compliance. “Ms. Rich, thank you for testifying. You have great insights regarding the role of the FTC in enforcing laws but doing so in a way that doesn’t unduly burden legitimate business activity. “I look forward to continuing to work with you on achieving the right balance for the FTC to enforce a national privacy and data security law to protect Americans of all ages, while at the same time ensure that businesses that follow the rules aren’t subject to government overreach and frivolous litigation. “The Committee appreciates your deep institutional knowledge and insight.”

ICYMI: E&C Republicans and Technology and Cybersecurity Experts Renew Calls for Comprehensive Data Privacy Protections

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA) and other committee members held an Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee hearing last week to address strengthening American data privacy protections. The subcommittee heard from technology and cybersecurity experts about the need for comprehensive data privacy protections and one national standard to ensure Americans’ information is protected from the Chinese Communist Party. Hearing highlights below: PROTECTING AMERICANS’ DATA PRIVACY “We must work together to cement America’s global technological leadership. We should start by passing comprehensive privacy and data security protections with one national standard. We made history last year when we passed the bipartisan, bicameral American Data Privacy and Protection Act 53-2. But our work isn’t over yet, as we have already fallen behind other countries in establishing a national privacy law. I’m eager to continue this work. This is a top priority for Americans and needs to be achieved through Congress.” — Chair Rodgers “It is imperative that this committee establishes foundational frameworks for deploying emerging technologies. We came close last Congress when we passed the bipartisan and bicameral American Data Privacy and Protection Act, but this Congress we need to ensure it gets across the finish line because China is not waiting on us to influence international norms and standards.” — Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) SECURING OUR DATA AGAINST BAD ACTORS LIKE THE CCP “Republicans on this committee are fully committed to passing a comprehensive federal privacy and data security standard. We are committed to that China is actively using U.S. customer data to better develop their AI, whether through mining, scraping, purchasing data through third parties, or through apps like TikTok—whose sharing information with the Chinese Communist Party.” — Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Vice Chair Tim Walberg (R-MI) “The goal that I think [ADPPA] achieves is that it both manages to address the transnational threat from a range of bad actors, but also protects consumers and secures that data here at home... We want to both address bad foreign actors and better enhance privacy protections at home. This is the baseline that we need. In terms of fostering innovation, as I’ve mentioned, U.S. firms need access to global data flows, but how do we do that in a safe, secure, and ethical way? We establish high baselines around how the data is collected, transferred, and retained. And that’s the balance I think US federal privacy law needs to strike.” — Sam Sacks, Cyber Policy Fellow, International Security Program, New America “Data in itself is essential. We need it for our economy. We need it for innovation. The issue is when it falls in the hands of adversarial nations and malicious actors, which we see happening on a second-by-second basis with China, unfortunately. That’s something I implore this Congress to address. I think the best way to do that is by enacting a comprehensive data privacy and security law today... Every second we wait is just more data that the CCP is collecting and potentially exploiting against Americans... I think it is just paramount that this is a key priority and is done without delay.” — Brandon Pugh, Policy Director and Resident Senior Fellow, R Street Institute PROTECTING CHILDREN’S WELL-BEING FROM BIG TECH “As a mother and a grandmother, I’m deeply concerned about the ways TikTok is manipulating our children. I’ve seen the reports detailing that China’s version of TikTok offers a kid-friendly version with educational videos, learning tools, and time limits set on what the children look at. Then you come over here and you see the opium version, which addicts our children.” — Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) “Representative Harshbarger alluded to the fact that in China, on TikTok, children 14 and younger are limited to 40 minutes. In the United States they have the algorithms set to do shorter videos that are meant to create dopamine hits in your brain. There was a survey done between the United States and China of 14-year-olds asking what is the most aspirational career you want to have. In the United States the number one answer was a social media influencer. In China they said they wanted to be an astronaut. If you want to look at the future of our two nations, start here.” — Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL)

Feb 6, 2023

E&C Republicans Zero in on China in First Week of Hearings

It’s no secret the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to replace the U.S. as a global economic and technological power. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans previewed their plans to strengthen American resolve against the CCP and ensure America, not China, wins the future. Last week, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA) announced that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify on March 23, 2023, before the committee on the platform’s consumer privacy and data security practices, its harm to kids, and its ties to the CCP. AMERICA’S DANGEROUS ENERGY DEPENDENCE ON CHINA During a full committee hearing last week, Republicans raised concerns about how President Biden is making America dangerously dependent on adversaries like China for our energy. “Every energy technology and source has a role to play but we need to be able to ensure that we are not becoming entirely dependent on unreliable, intermittent energy sources that rely on Chinese supply chains,” Chair Rodgers said . “It’s time to flip the switch and unleash American energy and this committee is at the very center of securing our global leadership and making people's lives better.” “There’s no doubt that China is adding wind and solar and other renewables to their energy matrix,” Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, & Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said . “They’re also building a heck of a lot of coal fired power plants, fossil fuel generation, mining rare Earth minerals that they need for all the technology, which is very detrimental to the environment.” “If we want viable, sustainable energy solutions that make all Americans secure, that appreciates the diversity of our landscapes, and doesn’t rely on premature, aspirational technologies or the availability of mineral supplies from foreign countries being available; then it’s time to turn the page on the current, national energy strategy, or lack thereof. Particularly since it’s one that makes us more dependent on nations that hate us,” Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, & Critical Materials Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) said . “To illustrate the point, I ask my colleagues to consider a recent article in the Washington Post. It suggested senior U.S. military officials are predicting, and preparing for, war within one to five years with China—the very country we depend on for the critical minerals required for many of the ‘rush to green’ solutions.” “China is striving to secure oil, gas, and critical minerals supply around the world while defending its dominance of renewable energy supply chains,” Robert McNally, the President of Rapidan Energy Group, LLC, testified to the Committee. BOOSTING AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS TO BEAT CHINA At an Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, members and witnesses discussed how America can compete against China and win the future. “Today’s hearing focuses on the greatest threat to our country right now—China. So, it is fitting that to begin the 118th Congress we focus on this threat and discuss how to recapture and maintain our global leadership. The CCP will stop at nothing to undermine our global leadership and weaken our economy,” Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis (R-FL) said . “They have bought up our farmlands, stolen our intellectual property, and embedded themselves deep within many of our supply chains. Now they are turning their attention towards establishing the global standards for emerging technologies. The CCP has invested heavily in Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. Paired with this investment, China is creating favorable environments for their private sector companies and entrepreneurs to deploy and test these technologies.” “In 2020, the China Task Force found that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ‘has a record of using official government resources and companies with CCP affiliations to compromise the data of people around the world’ and that the United States and its allies need to join the ‘effort to secure data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign entities.’ These concerns are especially prevalent in China itself, where advanced technology is used to track and monitor their citizens with few protections,” Brandon Pugh, Policy Director and Resident Senior Fellow of the R Street Institute, told the Subcommittee . “Similar concerns are echoed by federal government leaders like Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, who previously said ‘if you are an American adult, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data.’ He made even more pointed comments recently, saying that ‘China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined.’” CHINA'S DANGEROUS STONEWALLING During an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, Republican members noted how China has put the world in danger of future outbreaks because of that country’s refusal to cooperate with investigations into the origins of COVID-19. “Existing pandemic preparedness plans have mentioned the need for investigating the origins of pandemics but have neither spelled out the challenges nor the specifics for how to conduct an effective probe,” Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) said . “One of the challenges laid out in the (GAO) report is the need for investigators to have more access to samples from early cases in order to be effective in determining the pandemic’s origin. We must address this issue since some government organizations, including the Government of the Chinese Communist Party, have a history of withholding this type of information.” BEATING CHINA IN NEXT-GEN TECHNOLOGY Members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee examined how China is seeking to undermine us in a range of advanced communications technologies, including next-gen satellite technology. “We must also ensure continued American leadership in advanced communications services. In order to do that, our regulations must foster an environment of innovation and certainty,” Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) said . “As countries like China seek to dominate the technologies of the future, we must make the United States an attractive place to invest in cutting edge developments that align with American values and guarantee the availability of trusted satellite communications. “Countries like China seek to undermine us in a range of advanced communications technologies, including next-gen satellite technology. We can’t afford to let this happen,” Chair Rodgers said . “The Chinese Communist Party will do whatever it takes to embed their authoritarianism into next generation technologies like these. This is a country that spies on its citizens and asserts strict government control over businesses and the economy. They want to replace the U.S. as the economic and technological power so they can spread their values and vision of the future. We need to make sure these technologies are developed in an ecosystem that promotes America’s values, not China’s.” “China’s accelerating space prowess and reach presents both economic and national security challenges. China’s expanding space sector creates a competitive alternative in the global marketplace, oftentimes with attractive incentives and financing, that will steadily chip away at the market share enjoyed by U.S. companies,” Kari Bingen, Director, Aerospace Security Project and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies said. “As highlighted in a 2021 European market assessment, ‘[W]hile the most advanced commercial space companies clearly remain Western companies, China is now leading the world in terms of number of commercial space companies being established.’ On the national security front, the U.S. military’s battlefield advantage has long rested on our superior technology. But that is at risk as Beijing seeks to close the gap in our technology advantage.”

Feb 1, 2023

Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie Opening Remarks at Health Subcommittee Hearing

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Health Subcommittee hearing titled: “ Lives Worth Living: Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis, Protecting Critical Lifelines, and Combatting Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities .”  As prepared for delivery: “As we turn the page on both 2022 and the 117th Congress, thousands of Americans and their families are still reeling from failures by this Administration and the last Congress to meaningfully address one of the greatest public health threats of our lifetimes: the fentanyl crisis.”  RISE OF FENTANYL   “Over the past several years, the United States has seen an historic rise of drug overdoses, driven by an increased supply of synthetic opioids, such as illicit fentanyl analogs. In 2021 alone, there were over 107,000 drug overdoses reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and over 60,000 of these were caused by synthetic opioids. My home state of Kentucky experienced a 14 percent jumped in drug overdose deaths between 2020 and 2021, with over 70 percent of these deaths being caused by fentanyl alone. You sadly cannot go a week without reading or hearing about stories of mothers, sons, sisters, brothers, cherished friends, and even babies, losing their lives to a fentanyl overdose.  "How could this be possible? We don’t have to look farther than the crisis right now at our southern border. Since October of last year, our border patrol authorities have already seized over 7,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl at our Southwest Border. This is on top of the over 14,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl seized the year prior. The dual crises, both the fentanyl and border crisis, have effectively turned every community across the United States into a border community." HALT FENTANYL ACT   “Fortunately, this very subcommittee has the ability to take action and do what we know will work to help keep illicit fentanyl out of our communities and save lives. One of the bills before us here today, H.R. 467, the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act, also known as the HALT Fentanyl Act, would take the critical step of permanently scheduling all fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Services Act. Congress has enacted temporary extensions several times over the last few years. These continued temporary solutions are not sustainable – we need a permanent solution and must pass the HALT Fentanyl Act now. Doing so will be my top priority for as long as I am Chair of the Health Subcommittee.  “I want to address the demand for illegal and dangerous drugs here in the United States while simultaneously focusing on support for recovery resources for those who want help. We will have an opportunity later this year to reauthorize key parts of the SUPPORT Act and will be able to examine how to get people into recovery and keep them safe. But if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that these illicit fentanyl analogs are an entirely different class of drugs than any other deadly substances that our country has faced thus far and have the ability to make other illegal drugs that much more lethal.”  BLOCK, REPORT, AND SUSPEND SUSPICIOUS SHIPMENTS ACT   “Further, The Block, Report, and Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act, introduced by one of our newest Subcommittee members Representative Harshbarger, would also address the overdose crisis. This bill would require drug manufacturers and distributors to report all suspicious of controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Agency and require these entities to decline to fill such orders. Fighting the overdose epidemic necessitates a multipronged approach and a strong partnership between the public and private sectors, which this legislation accomplishes. I thank Representative Harshbarger for leading on this issue.  “The other important pieces of legislation before us today are equally as focused on protecting the sanctity of life. The 9-8-8 Lifeline Cybersecurity Act would ensure that the lifesaving 9-8-8 suicide and crisis hotline is protected from cyber vulnerabilities. This comes after the lifeline suffered a cyber-attack, in early December, which resulted in an hours-long outage of the lifeline. This cannot happen again, and I look forward to moving this bill through committee.  “Finally, we are examining legislation to permanently ban the use of quality-adjusted life years in all publicly funded health care programs, like Medicare and Medicaid. It is long overdue for Congress to take the necessary step of banning QALYs, which the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act that’s before us today would finally achieve. Such policies arbitrarily put a value on someone’s life and are especially discriminatory toward those living with disabilities. A life worth living is always a life worth saving, regardless of someone’s health status. I know this bill is personally very important to Chair Rodgers.  “I urge all of my colleagues on the subcommittee to support these four bills before us today.”

Jan 30, 2023
Big Tech

TikTok CEO to Testify at Energy and Commerce Committee

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today announced that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear before the committee to testify on TikTok’s consumer privacy and data security practices, the platforms’ impact on kids, and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. It will be Chew’s first appearance before a Congressional committee.  “Big Tech has increasingly become a destructive force in American society. The Energy and Commerce Committee has been at the forefront of asking Big Tech CEOs – from Facebook to Twitter to Google – to answer for their companies’ actions. These efforts will continue with TikTok. ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data. Americans deserve to know how these actions impact their privacy and data security, as well as what actions TikTok is taking to keep our kids safe from online and offline harms. We’ve made our concerns clear with TikTok. It is now time to continue the committee’s efforts to hold Big Tech accountable by bringing TikTok before the committee to provide complete and honest answers for people.”  Chew will testify at a full committee hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23, 2023. Additional details to follow.