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 FlakeThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days Poll: Sanders most popular senator, Flake least CBS News in talks to hire Flake: report 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 BarrassoOvernight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Dems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Dem senator expresses concern over acting EPA chief's 'speedy promotion' MORE (Wyo.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMcConnell: Senate won't override Trump veto on shutdown fight Senate immigration talks fall apart Emergency declaration option for wall tests GOP 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 MarkeyDems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Overnight Energy: Watchdog investigating EPA enforcement numbers | EPA's Wheeler faces Senate grilling | Interior's offshore drilling staff returning to work during shutdown EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks 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.