Federal Communications Commission Sets Aside Broadband Privacy Rules

Posted March 03, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday that it blocked a privacy rule adopted by the commission past year that would have required internet service providers to get permission before collecting sensitive information from customers. And this month, Pai is publishing the text of all six items - expanding the transparency measures he began last month.

The rules aimed to protect personal consumer data. Democrat Mignon Clyburn voted against halting the rules. However, he said if the FCC didn't have a vote, then he'd order the relevant bureau within the FCC to simply issue the stay instead, which it now appears to have done.

NCTA, a trade group representing internet service providers, countered that consumers will benefit from a uniform set of privacy protections.

"The federal government shouldn't favor one set of companies over another-and certainly not when it comes to a marketplace as dynamic as the internet", said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a joint statement on Wednesday with Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. "The FTC had proven to be an effective cop on the beat for safeguarding digital privacy". The data security rule was supposed to go into effect on March 2. "Today's stay will also ensure that ISPs and other telecommunications carriers do not incur substantial and unnecessary compliance costs while the Commission considers modifications to the rule".

"This elimination of basic data security rules gives ISPs a free ride while online services and other edge providers are still required to take reasonable measures to protect their customers' information under the FTC's framework".

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According to CNET, Pai and Maureen Ohlhausen, the USA consumer protection agency's acting chairwoman, said that the FTC, and not the FCC, should regulate all privacy and data security practices online.

Pai says robocalls are "the top source of consumer complaints to the FCC" and points out that they're often scams. "We believe that the best way to do that is through a comprehensive and consistent framework". After all, Americans care about the overall privacy of their information when they use the Internet, and they shouldn't have to be lawyers or engineers to figure out if their information is protected differently depending on which part of the Internet holds it. "It did not serve consumers' interests to abandon this longstanding, bipartisan, successful approach".

"Some Congressional leaders are already threatening to repeal the entire broadband privacy rule using the Congressional Review Act which prevents the FCC from ever creating privacy rules in the future".

MacCleery said the Consumer Reports had "heard from more than 50,000 consumers who support these rules through petitions and comments directly to the FCC".