Pelosi calls on internet providers to oppose GOP bill to kill privacy rules

Pelosi calls on internet providers to oppose GOP bill to kill privacy rules
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is calling on a group of leading internet service providers to announce whether they support a GOP bill that would eliminate privacy protections.

Pelosi on Tuesday came out against the measure and sent letters to AT&T, Century Link, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Frontier, Optimum, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and Windstream asking for their positions on it.

“Americans learned last week that agents of Russian intelligence hacked into e-mail accounts to obtain secrets on American companies, government officials and more,” Pelosi wrote. “This resolution would not only end the requirement you take reasonable measures to protect consumers’ sensitive information, but prevents the FCC from enacting a similar requirement and leaves no other agency capable of protecting consumers.”

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The House on Tuesday afternoon is expected to approve and send to President Trump's desk a bill that would block the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules. The bill passed the Senate in a 50 to 48 party-line vote last week.

The FCC regulations, which were passed in October, require internet service providers to obtain permission from their customers before using their data for advertising. They also require the companies to protect that data from hackers. 

The bill up for a vote on Tuesday would block the FCC rules from going into effect and prohibit the agency from passing similar regulations in the future.

“With this measure, Republicans turn their backs on the 75 percent of Americans who want more control over their internet privacy,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Most Americans have no or limited choices for broadband providers and no recourse against these invasions of their privacy.”

“Internet service providers must now stand up and be counted — whether they will stand with consumers in opposing the Republican bill, or announce their eagerness to sell the private information of the American people.”

The telecom industry has largely been united in supporting the bill, arguing that the FCC rules impose tougher regulations on them than internet companies like Facebook and Google, which also use consumer data for advertising.