FCC's GOP chairman blocks Internet privacy rule

FCC's GOP chairman blocks Internet privacy rule
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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai will block a privacy rule passed under the last administration from going into effect.
 
The rule, part of a larger set of privacy regulations passed in October, subjects internet service providers to strict requirements when storing consumer data.
 
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Last month, a coalition of telecom industry groups filed a petition requesting that the commission stop the rules before they go into effect on March 2, arguing that the regulations subject service providers to stricter regulation than websites.
 
In a statement emailed to reporters Friday, an FCC spokesman said Pai believes the privacy rules should mirror those implemented by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and that service providers should not be subject to tougher scrutiny than other companies.
 
"Chairman Pai believes that the best way to protect the online privacy of American consumers is through a comprehensive and uniform regulatory framework," the spokesman said. "All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another."
 
"Unfortunately, one of the previous administration’s privacy rules that is scheduled to take effect on March 2 is not consistent with the FTC’s privacy standards," the statement adds. "Therefore, Chairman Pai is seeking to act on a request to stay this rule before it takes effect on March 2."
 
Under the broadband privacy rules passed in October, service providers are required to take "reasonable" steps to protect sensitive consumer data.
 
The rules were passed under the authority the FCC gained to regulate service providers as common carriers when they enacted Democratic former Chairman Tom Wheeler's landmark net neutrality rules, which are broadly opposed by conservatives and the telecom industry.
 
Pai asked his fellow commissioners to vote to grant the stay ahead of the rule's implementation, but the spokesman said that the rules would be temporarily stayed until the commission takes action.
 
Mignon Clyburn, the lone Democrat on the FCC, blasted the move and called Pai out for what she sees as an abuse of the commission's process.
 
Clyburn said in a statement: “Today Chairman Pai has created an unfortunate dilemma: accept a Bureau-level action that indefinitely unwinds key consumer privacy protections established by the FCC last year, or accept four business days (rather than the usual three weeks) to evaluate and vote on a decision that has massive ramifications for the security of private information held by broadband providers."
 
“The outcome is clear," she added in a joint statement with FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny. 
 
"Chairman Pai is determined to take action that leaves consumers without a cop on the beat protecting their personal information from misuse by their broadband service provider. This means no federal data security requirements whatsoever for broadband providers. This is the antithesis of putting #ConsumersFirst.”
 
Congressional Republicans have also set their sights on the broadband privacy rules. 
 
Sen. Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOPINION: ObamaCare by another name is still ObamaCare Senate should seek to retain its 'blue slip' tradition for judicial nominees Progressives target Heller and Flake on Senate GOP bill MORE (R-Ariz.) said that he will put forth a bill to roll them back through Congressional Review Act (CRA) authority — a seldom-used tool that allows legislators to block recent regulations from going into effect and prevents similar ones from being passed in the future.
 
- Updated at 4:44 p.m.