Senate Dems hit FCC chairman on consumer data risks

Senate Dems hit FCC chairman on consumer data risks
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Democratic Senators slammed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai for his recent move to abandon new FCC rules on how internet service providers can use customer data

Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMore Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.), and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls #MeToo era shows there's almost never only one accuser, says Hill.TV's Krystal Ball Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC MORE (D-Minn.) cited security concerns while criticizing Pai’s decision not to enact the broadband privacy provisions approved under Tom Wheeler’s chairmanship of the FCC.

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“Your proposal comes despite the mounting number of data breaches impacting consumers throughout this country,” the Senators wrote in the letter to Chairman Pai. “We oppose your efforts and believe it would make subscribers’ sensitive information more vulnerable to breaches and unauthorized use.”

The senators’ letter comes in response to Pai’s decision to not enact broadband privacy rules that would have forced broadband companies to get customers' permission before acquiring their ‘sensitive’ information, like browsing data and usage history.

In a press call yesterday, Markey separately hammered Pai’s move on broadband privacy.

Markey has been a consistent critic of Pai's since the FCC chairman assumed the helm in January. The Massachusetts senator has blasted Pai’s decision to drop or scale back various net neutrality related proposals and established himself as a firm enemy of any efforts to legislatively curb net neutrality.

“Many consumers are essentially captive to their ISP [internet service providers],” Markey said on Monday. “Many Americans across the country only have access to a couple ISPs to choose from and simply cannot change service providers if their privacy protections are not transparent or robust.”

Supporters of the decision to drop broadband privacy measures argue that they’re an example of regulations going too far. They contend that it’s unfair that broadband providers cannot collect and then sell the same data that internet companies can and do.