Walden comments on Facebook, House Speaker change

HR Republican recounts grilling Facebook CEO, deflects idea he’ll succeed Paul Ryan

REP. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) said in a statement this week that his top priority is his work as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in response to media reports he is in the running for the Speaker of the House. Walden is up for re-election this year, with challengers from his own party as well as among Democrats.

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REP. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) said in a statement this week that his top priority is his work as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in response to media reports he is in the running for the Speaker of the House. Walden is up for re-election this year, with challengers from his own party as well as among Democrats.



WALDEN STATEMENT ON SPEAKER RYAN

In a statement released midday Wednesday, Walden said, “Two years ago, House Republicans turned to Paul for leadership at a time when we needed it most. The grace and intelligence with which he met that challenge was inspiring, but not surprising to those of us lucky to call Paul a friend. From a Tortilla Coast waiter to the Budget and Ways and Means Committee chairmanships to the Speaker’s office, Paul has stayed the same good-hearted man who puts the best interests of the American people first in all things.”

He continued, “Paul and I came to Congress at the same time and I’ve known Paul Ryan, the man, in a number of roles — as a representative, a chairman, and as our speaker. But there’s one role that’s always been the most important part of his life: being the father of Samuel, Elizabeth, and Charles and husband to Janna. As Paul prepares to leave elected office, I know he will cherish more time with his wife and children. I thank him for his career of service and wish Paul the best as he moves on to this new chapter of life.”

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan will retire at the end of his term and not seek reelection. A broadcast industry website published a story Wednesday suggesting U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) could be the next speaker.

Walden’s office issued this statement Wednesday: “Congressman Walden is focused squarely on his work as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, including combating the opioid crisis in Oregon and across the country, which is his top priority as chairman.”

The report by Adam Jacobsen of Radio and Television Business Report was based on tips gathered last week at the Broadcasters Foundation of America 2018 Ward L. Quall Leadership Awards in Las Vegas.

Walden and his wife, Mylene, spent more than two decades as radio station owners in the Gorge. The stations are now owned by Bicoastal Media. Walden serves as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and in that capacity, he led the first hearing before the House to question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s policies for protecting the personal information of its users.

“The American people are concerned about how Facebook protects and profits from its users’ data. In short, does Facebook keep its end of the agreement with its users?” asked Walden, according to a statement from the Congressman’s office. “People are willing to share quite a bit about their lives online based on the belief that they can easily navigate and control privacy settings and trust that their personal information is in good hands. If a company fails to keep its promises about how personal data are being used, that breach of trust must have consequences.”

According to Walden’s statement, during the hearing he questioned Zuckerberg about how clearly the company describes its operations to its users, and whether or not the public has a full understanding of how Facebook uses their personal information.

“You have recently said that you and Facebook have not done a good job of explaining what Facebook does,” said Walden. “Back in 2012 and 2013 when a lot of this scraping of user and friend data was happening, did it ever cross your mind that you should be communicating more clearly with users about how Facebook is monetizing their data? I understand that Facebook does not sell user data per se, but it is also just as true that Facebook’s user data is probably the most valuable thing about Facebook. In fact, it may be the only truly valuable thing about Facebook. Why wasn’t explaining what Facebook does with users’ data a higher priority for you as a co-founder and now as CEO?”

Zuckerberg said that while there is a certain amount of control users have over how their information is shared on Facebook, there is not a broad understanding of how consumer data are shared with advertisers.

“I do think that we can do a better job of explaining how advertising works,” said Zuckerberg. “There is a common misperception, as you say, that keeps on being reported, that for some reason we sell data. I can’t be clearer on this topic: we don’t sell data. That’s not how advertising works, and I do think that we could probably be doing a clearer job of explaining that given the misperceptions that are out there.”

Walden concluded by raising the question of whether Congressional action is needed to help improve the protection of consumers’ data on platforms like Facebook.

“Given the situation, can you manage the issues that are before you? Or does Congress need to intercede?” asked Walden.



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