AT&T is throwing its support behind a newly introduced net neutrality bill from Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, but a group representing edge providers like Facebook has already balked at the proposal.
Unveiled by Blackburn last week, H.R. 2520 – also known as the BROWSER Act – would require both internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast and edge providers like Google and Facebook to provide clear notice of their privacy policies and require opt-in consent to use or share “sensitive” user information. The details of the proposal can be found here.
The debut of Blackburn’s bill follows a move by Congress and the White House to repeal the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which included regulations to ensure net neutrality. Critics of the FCC’s order claimed the regulations created an unfair playing field by holding ISPs to a different standard than other companies in the internet ecosystem, which remained subject to less stringent Federal Trade Commission regulations.
AT&T, which along with USTelecom and CTIA sued the FCC to block its net neutrality rules back in 2015, this week expressed support for Blackburn’s measure.
“We have always said consumers expect their online data to be protected by a comprehensive and uniform privacy framework that applies across the entire internet ecosystem and includes operating systems, browsers, devices, ISPs, apps, online services, and advertising networks,” an AT&T spokesman told Wireless Week. “We support Chairwoman Blackburn for moving the discussion in that direction and we look forward to working with her as this legislation moves forward.”
However, the Internet Association, a group representing edge providers including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix, cautioned that the bill “has the potential to upend the consumer experience online and stifle innovation.”
“Policymakers must recognize that websites and apps continue to be under strict FTC privacy enforcement and are not in an enforcement gap, unlike other stakeholders in the ecosystem,” the association said in a statement.
The BROWSER Act is currently before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Filed Under: Industry regulations