• Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has announced that he will soon introduce legislation requiring Internet companies to take “reasonable steps to protect human rights or face civil or criminal liability.” At a hearing titled “Global Internet Freedom and the Rule of Law” held March 2, 2010, by the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, Sen. Durbin stated that he was concerned about “repressive governments around the world” that censor the Internet and “persecute human rights and democracy advocates who express their views online.” In 2008, a few large Internet providers subscribed to the “Global Network Initiative,” a voluntary code of conduct requiring technology companies to take reasonable measures to protect human rights. Sen. Durbin stressed his irritation that no other companies had since joined the initiative, particularly blasting Facebook, Inc. which said it “didn’t have the resources” to devote to the issue. Sen. Durbin said he had contacted “several dozen” companies to recommend that they consider joining the the organization that administers the pledge, but that only three - AT&T, Skype, and McAfee - had “even committed to participating in a dialogue” about joining.
  • The US House of Representatives Telecom Subommittee held a hearing on March 4, 2010 titled “Oversight of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Broadband, Part Three.” Witnesses were Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, NTIA, and Jonathan Adelstein, RUS Administrator. In his opening remarks, Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif. praised Messrs. Strickling and Adelstein for their work in awarding more than $1.25 in broadband-related grants and loans, and stated that he is “particularly pleased” that NTIA has focused on deployment of so-called “middle-mile" facilities. Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va. stated that he is “pleased” that the agencies amended the funding standards applicable to the second round of grants, particularly the change at RUS that no longer restricts larger grants only to “remote” areas.
  • On March 11, 2010, the US Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing at 10:00 am Eastern in 253 Russell Senate Office Building titled “Consumers, Competition, and the Proposed Comcast-NBC Merger.”