The recent shift of the majority in the House of Representatives to the Republicans has created some of the members to rant. The loss of majority of Rick Boucher (D-VA) to the Morgan Griffith was a major blow to the democrats and it stood out even amidst the victory celebrations. Morgan Griffith has swept Virginia’s House of Delegates with a definite majority.
Boucher was also the chairperson for the subcommittee on internet of the Energy and Commerce Committee. His stand on online privacy has been distinctive. He will not be able to continue in the post with the failure.
The Public Knowledge mentioned it as a major loss. Gigi Sohn, the spokes person commented on Rick Boucher as an intelligent, technical and moderate voice on intellectual properties and communications.
Boucher had proposed for a bill that prevents cell phone companies to use the information on location, race, religion and sexual orientation of any user with out consent. The bill also intended to keep the other user information secure from the vendors simply by opting out.
Most of the democrats like Edward Murkey (D-MA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) who were supporting Boucher’s policy on internet privacy managed to get elected. Murkey and Waxman had put some efforts towards a compromising bill which failed. Anna Eshoo was involved in banning loud commercials through television and made automatic fiber ducts mandatory for road constructions.
The new Congress will be with these Democrats on the opposition. The Republican candidates who managed to get elected have been strongly debating on the issues in communications technology. Some of them include Joe Bartor (R-TX), Fred Upton (R-MS). Barton strongly opposed the net compromise. Cliff Stearns(R-FL) has been actively involved in the wireless spectrum and mobile phone issues.
Markey and Barton had earlier questioned the Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and other internet companies about the online privacy policies they practice, especially on storage of cookies and retention of data. Facebook had responded to Barton’s questions in the affirming voice. It had confirmed the presence of third party internet applications which transfer the personal credentials of the users against the Facebook’s policy on internet privacy. Barton was quick to respond that he wanted the internet business to flourish but not at the cost of user’s privacy.
However, the various policy issues are yet to continue, especially the one on internet privacy. Barton has confirmed that the Energy and Commerce Committee along with its subcommittees are planning to poke up the issue in the congress.
Will online privacy be a reality?
Some kind of coherence is seen among the members on these burning issues. The opinion of Jay Rockfeller (D-WV), the chairperson of Senate Commerce Committee will be critical. Rockfeller himself was to submit a bill on internet privacy. Hence internet privacy and issue of wireless spectrum licenses will continue to be the hot debate topics with possibilities of a neutral solution.