House Republican looks for Dem allies on internet privacy bill

House Republican looks for Dem allies on internet privacy bill
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Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnDemocrats hold fading odds of winning Senate this November Cornyn: 'All the money in the world' won't help O'Rourke win Texas Gillibrand backs Manchin, Bredesen despite their support of Kavanaugh MORE (R-Tenn.) is asking Democrats to cosponsor her new internet privacy bill, intended to replace Federal Communications Commission privacy protections that Republicans killed earlier this year.

Blackburn’s office sent an email on Tuesday to all House Democrats asking them to sign on to the new bill, and arguing that it would strengthen existing privacy protections.

“Rep. Blackburn is a former co-chair of the bi-partisan Congressional Privacy Working group,” the email reads. “Moreover, she has not been accepting additional Republican co-sponsors while in the midst of taking stakeholder meetings and beginning outreach to Democrats.”


Blackburn was a key part of the GOP’s effort to kill the FCC rules earlier this year. Those rules would have required internet service providers to get their customers’ permission before sharing their data with advertisers.

Republicans who voted to kill the rules argued that they unfairly subjected service providers to tougher regulations than websites, like Facebook and Google, that are responsible for the majority of the internet’s data-driven advertisements

Blackburn’s new bill, called the Browser Act, would subject service providers and web services alike to the same rules, requiring both to get customers’ explicit consent before handing over “sensitive” information, such as financial and health data, browsing history, geo-location tracking, to third parties.

The bill would also place the Federal Trade Commission in charge of policing internet privacy. Republicans had been pushing for this change as they saw the FCC as much more heavy-handed.

It’s still unclear whether Blackburn’s efforts will win over Democrats and privacy advocates, many of whom were outraged when President Trump signed the bill to repeal the FCC’s rules.

Many Democrats may object to the bill handling authority to the FTC or its preemption of state efforts to implement their own internet privacy laws.

So far, the bill does not appear to have any Democratic support. Many interest groups on various sides of the privacy debate have yet to offer support.