At a separate joint hearing of two House subcommittees, lawmakers debated the need for legislation that would mandate protections for online privacy, with Democrats arguing that stringent protections are long overdue, while Republicans contended that undue regulation could stifle innovation and cripple businesses that rely on the legitimate use of personal data to serve their customers. Witnesses at the hearing, conducted by the House Communications Subcommittee and Commerce, Trade and Manufacturing Subcommittee included FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Edith Ramirez, and Larry Strickling, the chief of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. When asked by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) about the extent of the FCC’s authority to police the sale or distribution of personal information that is gathered online and used by web-based entities to support their own marketing efforts, Genachowski admitted “there is uncertainty and unpredictability” as he suggested that congressional clarification of the 1934 Communications Act in that regard “would be helpful.” Going further, Ramirez voiced support for pending “do not track” legislation that would prohibit companies from collecting information about web users’ online search and browsing habits without consent. Siding with Democrats who believe industry commitments to protect online privacy are not enough, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)—a co-sponsor of a pending bill that would prohibit targeted online advertising aimed at children—said, “it is time to act.” As Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) advised a cautious approach so as not to discourage innovation, Rep. Peter Olson (R-TX) pointed out that legitimate use of targeted advertising can be helpful to consumers while stressing that any “do not track” mandate should account for the resulting impact on businesses.