NCTA Pushes Senate to Axe Broadband Privacy Rules

NCTA: The Internet & Television Association has joined with more than a dozen others to ask members of the Senate Commerce Committee to support eliminating the FCC's broadband privacy rules using the Congressional Review Act.

That came in a letter to those members on the eve of their FCC oversight hearing with members of the FCC and on the day some are expecting Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to introduce a CRA resolution to roll back the rules.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said he wanted to review those rules, but Congress could beat him to it by eliminating it using the legislative gambit in which a simple majority can invalidate an agency reg. 

The groups, which also include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Consumer Technology Association, say the rules harm consumers by creating confusion between the FCC approach to ISP data collection and sharing and that of the Federal Trade Commission approach to edge provider privacy oversight.

They also argue that creating the opt-in regime for ISP data collection and sharing with third parties could threaten the ad-supported model that allows so much internet content to be free.

“The FCC’s rule also threatens the economic health of broadband providers whose infrastructure is critical to new technologies like 5G and the Internet of Things," they said. 

They also suggested that not waiting for Pai to undue them could free him up for some more regulatory rollbacks. “Congress should disapprove of this anti-consumer data rule so that the new Chairman and Commission can focus on removing other regulatory hurdles to innovation and restore regulatory balance to broadband service and the rest of the Internet ecosystem.”

Likely first on the ISP list would be reversing the Title II reclassification via which the FCC deeded itself authority over broadband privacy in the first place.

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.