Warren, Jayapal question FCC over industry's influence

Warren, Jayapal question FCC over industry's influence
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDesperate Dems signal support for cutting Biden bill down in size Sanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans Centrist Democrats urge progressives to tamp down rhetoric MORE (D-Wash.) are questioning the private sector’s influence over the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decisionmaking when it comes to network security.

Warren and Jayapal asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, about an advisory committee that is dominated by members affiliated with industry groups or companies in a letter released Monday.

“Having the FCC’s policy-making process rely on input from individuals employed by, or affiliated with, the corporations that it is tasked with overseeing is the very definition of regulatory capture,” the progressive lawmakers wrote. “The FCC should be working on behalf of American consumers, not giant telecommunications companies.”

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The letter, dated last Thursday, cites reporting by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a nonpartisan watchdog group, that alleges that private interests have come to dominate the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC).

The CSRIC is made up of appointees chosen by the FCC chairman to advise the agency on cybersecurity decisions related to the nation’s communications infrastructure.

POGO charted how recent iterations of the panel have been increasingly dominated by the private sector. The current makeup of CSRIC’s 22 members consists of 15 seats held by people affiliated with private companies or industry groups, six held by government officials and just one occupied by a representative from a civil society group.

In their letter, Warren and Jayapal asked Pai to explain how the makeup of the board is consistent with its charter and the law, both of which require it to represent the public interest.

“In order to effectively serve the American public, it is imperative that CSRIC’s membership be comprised of individuals with a diverse range of backgrounds and viewpoints, and include equal representation from various government agencies, academic experts, and consumer and community organizations, in accordance with its charter,” they wrote.

A spokeswoman for the FCC declined to comment.