Congress

House Privacy Vote Draws Crowd

FCC's broadband-targeted rules to be scrubbed from Federal Register 3/28/2017 7:30 PM Eastern

Groups on both sides of the braodband privacy debate flooded journalists' inboxes after House Republicans followed the Senate's lead and passed a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval Tuesday (March 28) repealing the FCC's broadband privacy rule framework.

The President is expected to sign the resolution, which also prohibits the FCC from crafting substantially similar legislation.

NCTA: The Internet & Television Association, which pushed Congress and the FCC to repeal the regs, was understandably pleased.

“Today’s Congressional action to repeal the FCC’s misguided rules marks an important step toward restoring consumer privacy protections that apply consistently to all internet companies," NCTA said in a statement. "With a proven record of safeguarding consumer privacy, internet providers will continue to work on innovative new products that follow ‘privacy-by-design’ principles and honor the FTC’s successful consumer protection framework. We look forward to working with policymakers to restore consistency and balance to online privacy protections.”

“Today’s Congressional action to repeal the FCC’s misguided rules marks an important step toward restoring consumer privacy protections that apply consistently to all internet companies. With a proven record of safeguarding consumer privacy, internet providers will continue to work on innovative new products that follow ‘privacy-by-design’ principles and honor the FTC’s successful consumer protection framework. We look forward to working with policymakers to restore consistency and balance to online privacy protections.”

"ACA strongly supported Congress' intervention to reverse the harms associated with the FCC's unwarranted and burdensome broadband privacy regulations that singled out ISPs while exempting giant internet edge providers, who have as much, if not more, access to similar consumer data," said American Cable Association President Matt Polka. "ACA members remain committed to maintaining their commendable record of protecting subscriber privacy.

“Today’s action is another step to remove unnecessary rules and regulations that handicap economic growth and innovation, and moves the country one step closer to ensuring that consumers’ private information is protected uniformly across the entire internet ecosystem," said USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter. "Consumers can rest easy today knowing their privacy is protected under existing FCC authority, which requires companies to keep consumers’ data safe. The broad industry commitments to shield consumer data announced earlier this year add another layer of protection. If signed by the President, the CRA would simply maintain the status quo on privacy protections by removing the misguided rules adopted last year. We continue to support the FTC privacy framework and look forward to working on a more uniform air-tight approach to privacy that doesn’t advance a balkanized regulatory structure..."

Tech trade group ITI praised the vote and asked the President to sign it ASAP.

“We urge President Trump to sign this bill into law so the FCC can begin drafting rules that better reflect the well-established and robust privacy framework developed by the FTC that led to the vibrant internet ecosystem we have today,” said VP for government affiars Vince Jesaitis. “ITI commends the House for passing Rep. Blackburn’s resolution, which if signed into law, can offer a fresh opportunity to ensure the internet will continue to flourish under proven privacy
protections. We stand ready to work with the FCC to achieve that goal.”

The FCC can write new rules using its authority to regulate phone common carrier customer proprietary network information (CPNI) or could overturn the FCC's Open Internet order classification of ISPs as common carriers, which is when the FCC ceded itself what had been the Federal Trade Commissions broadband privacy authority.

"The House and Senate got it right on the ISP regulations," said Data & Marketing Association SVP of advocacy Emmett O’Keefe. DMA members are the ones who use Web data to target relevant advertising. "Today’s vote brings an end to a year of discussion over whether it was appropriate for the FCC to upend the longstanding, successful privacy framework to adopt an entirely new set of rules, which would unnecessarily burden the booming digital economy."

Using terms like "abandon" and "dismantle," echoing the strong language of Democrats on the House floor, Public Knowledge said the CRA "defies basic concern for consumer choice."

"To be clear, the FTC cannot regulate broadband providers due to a Congressionally mandated exemption for common carriers. This bill does not change that," said Policy Fellow Dallas Harris. "The truth is that once President Trump signs this resolution, there will be no effective federal cop on the beat to proactively protect consumer information collected by ISPs."

Fight for the Future, which had fought for the FCC regs, used "gut" and kill" to descrive the vote. "Today Congress proved once again that they care more about the wishes of the corporations that fund their campaigns than they do about the safety and security of their constituents,” said Evan Greer, Fight for the Future campaign director. “Gutting these privacy rules won’t just allow Internet Service Providers to spy on us and sell our personal information, it will also
enable more unconstitutional mass government surveillance, and fundamentally undermine our cybersecurity by making our sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, and foreign governments."

“It is extremely disappointing that Congress is sacrificing the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. President Trump now has the opportunity to veto this resolution and show he is not just a president for CEOs but for all Americans. Trump should use his power to protect everyone’s right to privacy," said ACLU Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani.

“By voting to revoke Americans’ right to online privacy, House Republicans have shown us they plan to continue enabling Donald Trump’s plot to plunder America, starting with Black folks," said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change. "Ending these important privacy protections gives greedy corporations unfettered access to our personal data and the power to further exploit vulnerable communities."
 
"Today’s House vote to overturn the first major Internet privacy protection Americans would have may be a win for ISP monopolies, but it’s a tragic loss for our democracy," said Katharina Kopp, policy director for the Center for Digital Democracy. "Broadband providers, such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, will now be able to sell our sensitive information to the highest bidder without first receiving our permission. We believe today’s misguided vote will unleash even more “Big Data” profiling and tracking of Americans, and spur an array of discriminatory practices. Without any restraints, ISPs will dramatically erode what should be an important American fundamental right—that of privacy."

"Congress today voted to give corporate giants like Comcast, Verizon, Frontier and AT&T the right to invade your online privacy and sell your private data," said John M. Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog. "The House joined the Senate in overturning reasonable privacy protecting rules carefully crafted by the the FCC through a deliberate and fair rule-making process with carefully considered input from all stakeholders."

"What we saw today in the House was a rush job to pass a very unpopular resolution at the behest of the Big Cable industry, which wants to safeguard its ability to profit off consumers’ private data," said Demand Progress communications director Mark Stanley of the vote.  

It commended the 15 Republicans who voted against the CRA.

"Today's vote is a disturbing rubber stamp from conservative policymakers aimed at dismantling needed consumer protections for corporate profit," said National Hispanic Media Coalition director of policy and legal affairs Carmen Scurato. "With the approval of the president, corporations will now be handed the ability to share the sensitive, personal information of millions of Americans without their consent and hinder the FCC's role as a consumer watchdog far into the future."

""Congress voted today to erase basic privacy protections for Americans in favor of the internet service providers' (ISPs) bottom line," said Center for Democracy & Technology Director of Privacy and Data Michelle De Mooy. "ISPs have access to incredibly sensitive information about us, including everything from web browsing and video viewing habits, religious information, sexual preferences, health conditions, and location. Today's action means they can collect and share some of the most intimate details of our lives without restriction."

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