Senate on the verge of vote to kill FCC's consumer privacy protections

Senate on the verge of vote to kill FCC's consumer privacy protections

A congressional resolution to roll back the Federal Communications Commission's broadband privacy rules could see a vote in the Senate as early as Wednesday evening. 

A spokesperson for Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R-Ariz.), who is sponsoring the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to get rid of the rules, told The Hill in an email that it could see a vote as early as tonight. The rarely used procedure is designed to eliminate regulations passed at the end of a previous administration. 

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A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —Biden unveils health care plan | Proposal pitches subsidies, public option | Biden vows if you like your health insurance, 'you can keep it' | Sanders protests planned Philadelphia hospital closure MORE (R-Ky.), however, declined to comment on whether or not the resolution would hit the Senate floor later Wednesday.

The rules, approved in the FCC under then-President Obama last October, prevent internet service providers from collecting "sensitive" information from consumers such as app usage data and browsing histories. Internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and others railed against the rules, arguing that they kept them from profiting from the same data that internet companies like Google and Facebook are able to collect and monetize.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is also not a fan of the existing rules. He voted against them when he was a commissioner in the then-Republican minority.

Consumer advocacy groups and Democrats in the Senate have advocated for the rules, arguing that they’re necessary for consumer privacy and that they prevent telecommunications companies from taking advantage of lower-socioeconomic and minority communities.

“For marginalized communities, this restriction on automatic data collection was essential,” said Anika Collier Navaroli, a senior campaign manager at the advocacy group Color of Change last month. “For black folks, people of color and children, even if some of this data may seem innocuous, the data could easily become proxy for protected class and for sensitive information.”

The House would still need pass the CRA resolution to kill the FCC rules. Communications and Technology subcommittee Chairman Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSocial media summit highlights partisan approaches on tech Trump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Hillicon Valley: Trump rails against 'terrible bias' at White House social media summit | Twitter hit by hour-long outage | Google admits workers listen to smart device recordings MORE (R-Tenn.), who is sponsoring the House's version of the resolution, told The Hill last week that it could see a vote within the next several weeks.