GOP senator offers measure to undo FCC internet privacy rules

GOP senator offers measure to undo FCC internet privacy rules
© The Hill

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) introduced a measure on Tuesday that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) privacy rules for internet service providers.

The resolution would kill the FCC’s ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services’ regulation through the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to reject certain recently passed regulations by majority vote.

The FCC rules limit broadband providers from accessing and collecting personal customer information, including web browsing data and app usage history.

The regulation, approved by the agency in October, was opposed by internet service providers who said it prevented them from using their customers' data for profit as most internet companies do.

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Flake's resolution has 21 Republican co-sponsors, including Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTo stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US GOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (Wyo.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump McConnell support for election security funds leaves Dems declaring victory Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer MORE (Mo.) and Shelly Moore Capito (W.Va.).

The privacy rules were a result of the FCC's contentious net neutrality rules, which reclassified broadband providers as common carriers.

If successful, Flake’s resolution will be the latest blow to net neutrality.

Some critics have opposed the FCC's privacy rules, saying they clash with privacy regulations from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“The rules deviate substantially from the FTC's successful privacy model and are fatally flawed,” wrote 21st Century Privacy Coalition co-chairs former FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.). “The resolution will give the Administration the opportunity to hit the reset button and develop a holistic approach to privacy for the entire internet ecosystem that benefits consumers."

The Consumer Technology Association also voiced support for the move, writing that the broadband privacy measures could “they could establish a dangerous precedent for the entire internet.”

But Democrats have fiercely opposed talk of undoing the privacy rules.

In February, Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMarkey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Sanders defends job losses from ending use of fossil fuels MORE (D-Mass.) blasted attempts to roll back the measures in a press call with several groups who supported the rules.

“Killing the FCC privacy rule ... would open up an unregulated Wild West where consumers would have no defense against abusive invasions of their privacy by their internet service provider,” Markey said on the call.