The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a measure passed by the Senate last week that would roll back the FCC’s 2016 broadband privacy rules. The bill will now head to the White House for President Trump’s signature.
There, it is all but guaranteed to be signed, as the White House on Tuesday signaled it “strongly supports” the measure.
The bill, known as S.J. Res. 34, formally states “disapproval” of the FCC’s 2016 broadband privacy rules and stipulates “such rule shall have no force or effect.” It was originally introduced in the Senate by Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has argued the FCC’s rules represent an “overreach.”
In a debate on the House floor on Tuesday Congressional Republicans followed Flake’s tack, arguing the rules provide “artificial” protections that harm consumers and place an onerous and lopsided burden on internet service providers. Additionally, they argued the opt-in, opt-out clause in the FCC’s rules is confusing to consumers and “reduces consumer choice.”
Democrats returned fire, insisting consumers should have control of all their data whether it’s considered sensitive or non-sensitive. New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone went so far as to call the repeal of the FCC’s privacy rules a “gift to the Russians.”
Additionally, Democrats stressed that a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals means the FTC currently has no jurisdiction to rein in non-common carrier activities of common carriers like AT&T in the absence of the FCC’s rules.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said passage of S.J. Res. 34 would do “permanent damage” to the FCC’s ability to protect American’s data. The “deeply personal information about us and our families” collected by providers “should not be sold without permission,” she said.
“This is about profit from Americans’ most intimate personal information without our knowledge or consent,” Pelosi stated.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who has been extremely vocal in his opposition to the FCC’s broadband privacy regulations, issued a statement after the House vote.
“It is worth remembering that the FCC’s own overreach created the problem we are facing today,” Pai said. “Until 2015, the Federal Trade Commission was protecting consumers very effectively, policing every online company’s privacy practices consistently and initiating numerous enforcement actions. However, two years ago, the FCC stripped the FTC of its authority over internet service providers.”
Pai noted that at the time, he strongly opposed “usurping the FTC” and added “the FCC’s struggles to address the privacy issue over the past couple of years (along with its refusal to recognize consumers’ uniform expectation of privacy) has only strengthened that view.”
We’ll keep you posted as industry reactions pour in.
Filed Under: Industry regulations