Chairman of House Committee Looking Into Facebook Wants ‘Facts First,’ Not Regulation

Rep. Greg Walden also says Apple should add FM chips to iPhones

Rep. Greg Walden (l.) is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Chris Ariens
Headshot of Chris Ariens

Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “an incredible innovator.”

“He’s changed the world,” Walden said during a keynote discussion at the opening of the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Zuckerberg will appear before Walden’s committee Wednesday. In fact, just after his appearance at the NAB Show, Walden said he was going to be speaking with Zuckerberg about his testimony.

Zuckerberg, whose opening remarks were released this morning, said Facebook “didn’t do enough to prevent” the social platform’s tools “from being used for harm.”

“That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Walden said he’s approaching Wednesday’s hearing seeking the truth but not necessarily looking at regulation.

"Silicon Valley has never been regulated. It's how they created millionaires and billionaires overnight."
Rep. Greg Walden. R-Ore.

“My job is to get the facts first,” the Oregon Republican said, adding, “There’s this argument that legacy regulation shackles new entrants. Silicon Valley has never been regulated. It’s how they created companies overnight. It’s how they created millionaires and billionaires overnight. They just do it. And that’s what we want in America. Let companies compete and let the market decide.”

“People need to know how their data is being used and is supposed to be used,” Walden continued, adding that the Federal Trade Commission “can bring actions” when necessary.

NAB chairman and former Oregon senator Gordon Smith, who moderated the discussion, also asked Walden why Apple doesn’t join other smartphone-makers like Samsung in adding an FM chip, which the NAB argues are crucial in emergencies, to its iPhones.

“Is there something we should be doing with Apple?” Smith asked. “It seems uncompetitive, anticonsumer.”

Walden said the FM chip “could save lives.”

“It’s something they should embrace. I’d hate to mandate technology. But this is a no-brainier. They ought to be doing this,” Walden said to applause from the room full of broadcasters.

@ChrisAriens Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.