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Democratic Senators Call for Preserving FCC Privacy Rules

A quartet of Democratic senators backing the FCC's broadband privacy rules wrote FCC chairman Ajit Pai asking him to protect them.

Leading that charge was Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—who Mondayheld a press conference alongside privacy groups to advocate for the rules and brand ISPs as gatekeepers trying to protect their gates for seeking to stay and reverse the regs—and was the lead signatory on the letter from the four senators.

Pai voted against the framework, adopted last fall under the previous chairman, and has said he will delay implementation of the first of those new regs—data security rules scheduled to kick in March 2—until the FCC finishes reviewing petitions by ISPs to stay all the rules. They want the FCC to start over with an approach that provides similar protections to edge-provider and ISP data collection and sharing, something Pai appears to want to do as well.

In the letter, Markey, joined by some of the Senate's strongest media critics—Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.)—said Pai's proposal to stay implementation comes "despite the mounting number of data breaches impacting consumers throughout this country."

Yahoo has been in the news of late, responding to Senate inquiries about its 1.5 billion breaches in the past several years.

"Privacy protections and data security simply cannot be put on hold," they wrote.

Pai has said that if all three commissioners don't vote for the interim stay of the data security rule implementation by March 2—Republican Michael O'Rielly says he will, which leaves Democrat Mignon Clyburn—the FCC will do it on delegated bureau authority.

While many Democrats in Congress are pushing back on rolling back the regs, Republicans are trying to give Pai a helping hand by invalidating the framework using the Congressional Review Act.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.