O'Rielly Backs Staying Data Security Rule Implementation

Republican Commissioner Michael O'Rielly signaled Monday he is on board with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to delay the March 2 implementation of the first FCC broadband privacy rules--the data security requirements--while the FCC considers requests by ISPs and others to stay the rules in their entirety.

That came in a statement after the chairman circulated the delay order last week. Pai has himself signaled that  if the commission does not vote on the item by March 2, it will be stayed on delegated authority at the bureau level, something Pai has criticized about the FCC process under the previous chairman, but which will be the only way to keep the data security rule from going into effect March 2 absent either a vote or a bureau-level stay.

"I support the Chairman's [interim stay] proposal to allow the Commission and Congress time to take another look at these ill-considered rules before they have a chance to throw broadband providers' data security practices into unsettled territory," said O'Rielly, adding: " I certainly will commit to record my vote on this item by March 2."

That is no surprise, since he strongly dissented from the original framework.

The data security rules, which require ISPs to make best efforts to secure data and requires them to report breaches, are the first of the FCC's broadband privacy framework--voted last October in a 3-2 party line vote with Democrats prevailing--to go into effect if the FCC does not stay implementation.

But even if O'Rielly does cast that vote in favor, and Pai has a a two-vote majority for a commission-level interim stay, the item cannot be adopted unless Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn votes on it, for or against. If there are only three commissioners--rather than the full complement of five--and one fails to vote an item on circulation, it must be voted at a public meeting, which is not scheduled until March 23.

Clyburn's office was not available for comment on whether she will vote the item by March 2 or force the chairman to adopt it on delegated authority.

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.