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 MarkeyEd MarkeySenators seek to curb counterfeit toys and goods sold online Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Pledged money not going to Indigenous causes MORE (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Restless progressives eye 2024 Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run MORE (D-Mass.), and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' 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.