Boucher takes top tech spot in House

One of best-known faces of tech policy on the Hill is stepping out of the fray. Rep Ed Markey, D-Mass., announced today that he will no longer chair the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. Markey will assume the chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, also a branch of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where he hopes to oversee an ambitious clean-energy agenda.

Replacing Markey at the head of the Internet subcommittee will be Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat who has long been interested in consumer rights online.

The two Democrats are essentially switching chairs, as Boucher previously headed the Energy subcommittee that Markey is taking over.

As a long-time chairman of the Internet subcommittee, Markey was a tireless advocate of digital rights, inveighing against advertising schemes and other online practices that he saw as a threat to consumer privacy. Markey was also a champion of the open-network principles trumpeted by many technology firms and progressive think tanks. Markey was unsuccessful in his attempts to write Net neutrality principles into law.

Boucher, who represents a rural district in Southwest Virginia, is a strong supporter of Net neutrality.

A spokeswoman for Boucher said he is still formulating his detailed agenda for the subcommittee, but in a brief statement, he said he planned to promote broadband deployment and ensure that the DTV transition goes smoothly.

“Just as first canals, railroads and Interstate highways were the major arteries of commerce in earlier eras, in the 21st century, access to broadband telecommunications will be a defining feature of economic success for our communities,” Boucher has said.

Boucher is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus, which educates lawmakers on Internet issues.

He is also a long-time member of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.

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