• On April 27, 2010, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing titled “Connecting Main Street to the World: Federal Efforts to Expand Small Business Internet Access.” In his written testimony, Chairman Genachowski told the Committee that the National Broadband Plan “contains a number of strong recommendations to tackle those challenges” to increasing broadband availability for small businesses. These recommendations include the re-purposing of the Universal Service Fund for broadband, expansion of the FCC’s Rural Healthcare Program, and “taking steps to promote competition.” Jonathan Adelstein, former FCC Commissioner and now the RUS Administrator, informed the Committee about RUS funds that have been awarded to small telecommunications companies that will deploy broadband facilities in rural and underserved areas. Tom Gerke, Executive Vice Chairman of Louisiana-based CenturyLink, highlighted the investment that his company has made in deploying broadband facilities in rural America. For example, CenturyLink has spent $900 million on deployment in Louisiana alone. Other witnesses included Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce, and the Honorable Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA.
  • On April 29, 2010, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing titled “Examining Children’s Online Privacy: New Technologies and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.” Witnesses included Berin Szoka, Senior Fellow & Director of the Center for Internet Freedom of The Progress & Freedom Foundation, and Ms. Jessica Rich, Deputy Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. In his opening remarks, Committee Chair John (Jay) Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., stated that “Many companies are collecting personal information and monetizing it. This commercial practice has a particular impact on our children. … with such rapid change, I firmly believe Congress also must take a hard look at whether COPPA should be updated to cover new kinds of information and new businesses.” Senator Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Chair of the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee, stated that “[p]rotecting our children’s online privacy and safety is a critical issue whose importance cannot be overstated,” and noted that “in the last five years, we have seen the time spent online by kids ages 2 through 11 increase by 63 percent.” The FTC’s review of its COPPA rules commenced March 24, 2010, and the comment period closes June 30, 2010.