A coalition of 16 industry groups, including CTIA, the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), The Internet and Television Association (NCTA), and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), among others, asked Congress last week to take formal action to cripple the FCC’s Broadband Privacy Order.
In a Friday letter, the groups collectively urged Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to spearhead a movement in Congress to enact a resolution of disapproval pursuant to the Congressional Review Act that would invalidate or annul the FCC’s Broadband Privacy rules.
“Unfortunately, in adopting new broadband privacy rules late last year, the Federal Communications Commission took action that jeopardizes the vibrancy and success of the internet and the innovations the internet has and should continue to offer,” the letter read. “While the FCC’s Order applies only to Internet Service Providers, the onerous and unnecessary rules it adopted establish a very harmful precedent for the entire internet ecosystem. We therefore urge Congress to enact a resolution of disapproval pursuant to the Congressional Review Act vitiating the Order.”
According to the groups, the FCC in passing the order failed to justify why a departure from the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy regulations was necessary, and instead adopted “new privacy restrictions that will disserve consumers and stifle innovation in the online marketplace.” The groups argued the new privacy rules would interfere with their ability to offer customers customized services and capabilities, and would result in consumers being “bombarded” with “trivial” data breach notifications.
The associations said action from congress would “help clear the way toward re-establishing a consistent, uniform set of privacy protections.”
Consumer protection groups sent their own letter to Ryan, McConnell, Pelosi, and Schumer asking them to block such an action, which it called “just another industry attempt to overturn rules that empower users and give them a say in how their private information may be used.”
The moves come as little surprise from groups that have pushed back against the rules since the FCC first proposed them in March 2016.
But what is interesting is that the associations are turning to Congress for action rather than new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the new Republican majority on the Commission. Both Pai and fellow GOP Commissioner Michael O’Rielly opposed the passage of the Broadband Privacy Order, with Pai commenting the rules “simply favor one set of corporate interests over another,” and O’Rielly warning they would likely “impede innovation.”
Separately on Friday, CCA, CTIA, NCTA, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, the American Cable Association, and WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband did file a motion asking the FCC to stay implementation of the Broadband Privacy rules. The groups, however, might view taking the matter to Congress as a shortcut given the FCC would either have to initiate a full rulemaking process to undo the measure or simply relax enforcement of the rules outlined in the Order.
More on what would take for the Commission to undo the Broadband Privacy Order, or any of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s other controversial measures can be found here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations