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 FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots 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 McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble 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 BlackburnBig Tech should pay for damaging mental health Facebook to testify in Senate after report finds Instagram harms mental health House Oversight Democrat presses Facebook for 'failure' to protect users 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.