Press Release Broadband Privacy

Sen. Markey Joins Public Interest Groups in Opposition to Congressional Plan to Kill Online Privacy

February 27, 2017 , , , ,

Today, Public Knowledge joined Senator Edward J. Markey and representatives from four other public interest groups to speak in opposition to Congressional plans to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn privacy rules enacted by the Federal Communications Commission last fall.

If a measure is passed under the CRA, it would not only kill the new FCC rule, which gives consumers control of how data about them can be used and shared by an internet service provider, but also eliminate the possibility of enacting any new FCC rules covering ISP privacy protections. Dallas Harris, Policy Fellow and privacy expert at Public Knowledge, moderated the call and is available for comment.

The following can be attributed to Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee:

“Without the FCC’s broadband privacy rules, broadband providers will be able to sell dossiers of the personal and professional lives of their subscribers to the highest bidder without their consent.‎ We cannot allow the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans to put corporate interests before consumer protections. I will oppose any effort to roll back these important broadband privacy rules, either by Congress or at the FCC.”

The following can be attributed to Dallas Harris, Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:

“Under Chairman Wheeler, the FCC passed rules that put consumers in control of how their broadband provider uses their information. Unfortunately, it is clear that Chairman Pai and Congressional Republicans might make weakening, or even eliminating, consumers’ control one of their top tech policy priorities.

“Under the guise of putting local monopoly ISPs on a level playing field with competitive edge providers, the Chairman’s actions will leave consumers without any protections at all. Similarly, if Congress votes to use the CRA to repeal these important privacy protections, there will be no cop on the beat when it comes to broadband privacy. Pair these actions with ongoing efforts in Congress to weaken the power of the Federal Trade Commission, and Americans may be left with only a promise to trust that companies will protect their privacy out of the goodness of their own heart. Instead of giving ISPs a free ride, the FCC and leaders in Congress should be focused on how to preserve the right of consumers to control how their personal information is used.”

The following can be attributed to Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel at Free Press:

“The FCC’s broadband privacy rules build on the landmark Open Internet Order — issued two years ago yesterday — when the FCC rightly reclassified broadband internet access as a telecommunications Service under Title II of the Communications Act. As part of the Open Internet Order, the Commission also recognized the carriers’ mandate under the law ‘to protect the confidentiality of [their] customers’ proprietary information.’ Internet users want and need these kinds of updated consumer privacy safeguards to protect their private information from unauthorized disclosure and abuse.

“Consumers everywhere have few choices when choosing their broadband provider — and choice for rural consumers is even more limited. The FCC’s rule gives consumers the dignity of choosing whether or not they wish to share their private information, like web browsing history, with marketers and other third parties, and how the broadband provider itself can use this data to advertise back to its customers.”

The following can be attributed to Katie McInnis, Staff Attorney at Consumers Union:

“ISPs argue that consumers don't want these online privacy protections. But we have heard from 45 thousand consumers who signed our petition in support of the rule and received 10 thousand consumer comments asking for this protection to be preserved. To do away with these essential protections through the Congressional Review Act would be shortsighted. The Commission should not be prevented from acting — now or in the future — in the public’s interest to protect consumers’ online privacy.”

The following can be attributed to Anika Collier Navaroli, Senior Campaign Manager at ColorofChange and Media & Economic Justice:

“The FCC’s adoption of broadband privacy rules was a major victory for civil rights and the rights of all users online. The ruling flipped the broadband scheme from profit-by-default to privacy-by-default and it created a wall of protection at the very point of data collection. For marginalized communities this restriction on automatic data collection was essential. For Black folks, people of color, and low-income communities, even if some data may seem innocuous, this data can easily become a proxy for protected class and sensitive information. And data points do not exist or operate in a vacuum, the speed and resources made available by the very nature of broadband mean that one point is no longer used by itself.

“The ruling provided a roadmap that could lead to the end of shameless predatory targeting and it began the process of ending online price gouging, data discrimination, and digital redlining. The rollback of these protections by Chairman Pai is a travesty. Our communities need strong privacy rules. The space we have claimed online is much too valuable in this moment and in this movement. We must keep the internet safe, open, and secure.”

The following can be attributed to Neema Singh Guliani, Legislative Counsel at ACLU:

“The FCC rules are essential to making sure that consumers — not major companies like Comcast or AT&T — ultimately control how their sensitive data is sold and used. We urge Congress to press the FCC to fully implement these rules, and ensure that Americans are not forced to choose between their privacy and the ability to use the internet.”