NCTA, ACA Ask Congress to Invalidate Broadband Privacy Order

ISPs, advertisers and tech companies have added their voices to the call for Congress to invalidate the FCC's broadband privacy framework order.

That came in a letter to the bipartisan House and Senate leadership signed by NCTA: The Internet & Television Association and the American Cable Association, among many others.

"Adopted on a party-line 3-2 vote just ten days before the Presidential election, over strenuous objections by the minority and strong concerns expressed by entities throughout the internet ecosystem, the new rules impose overly prescriptive online privacy and data security requirements that will conflict with established law, policy, and practice and cause consumer confusion."

The framework requires ISPs to get their subs' permission (notice and choice) before sharing web browsing and app use histories with third parties for marketing and other purposes. It also includes data security and data breach notification rules as well as a prohibition on making info sharing a quid pro quo for service and a case-by-case look at offering incentives to share info. The FCC will also preempt state privacy, data security and data breach laws that conflict with its new rules.

The groups also pointed to the fact that the framework applies to ISPs but not edge providers, like Google and Facebook, and their collection and sharing of online information.

"Invoking Congress’s prerogative as provided in the CRA will help clear the way toward re-establishing a consistent, uniform set of privacy protections for consumers across the internet," they said.

ISPs want Congress to use its Congressional Review Act (CRA) powers to invalidate the order, a legislative mechanism being eyed by Republicans to take aim at various regulatory decisions dating from the previous administration. The act allows Congress to review and reverse government regulations.

While the letter went to the House and Senate minority leaders as well as to the House Speaker and Senate majority leader, Democrats are highly unlikely to support such a move. Two Democrats not on the letter have already publicly criticized the request—Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Others signing on to the letter included the Association of National Advertisers, Consumer Technology Association, USTelecom, CTIA, and the Competitive Carriers Association.

ISP-backed Net Competition, Americans for Tax Reform, and a host of small-government groups earlier in the week called on the same congressional leaders to use the CRA to invalidate the FCC framework order.

John Eggerton

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.