Senate Peers Into Online Data Privacy

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on consumer data privacy, a hot-button issue in Washington with the revelations about edge provider data breaches, third-party sharing and other monetization of user info.

The hearing, "Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States,” will be held Feb. 27, 2019.

The hearing is about ways for Congress to implement data privacy protections as part of the committee's oversight of the Federal Trade Commission, which has primary enforcement authority over privacy and information security.

The White House and Congress are in agreement that federal privacy legislation is necessary. "In an age of rapid innovation in technology, consumers need transparency in how their data is collected and used,” said Wicker in announcing the hearing. “It is this committee’s responsibility and obligation to develop a federal privacy standard to protect consumers without stifling innovation, investment, or competition. As we continue to examine this critically important issue, I hope this first hearing will offer valuable insights that will help set the stage for meaningful bipartisan legislation.”

The FCC, under Democratic chairman Tom Wheeler, adopted a framework for ISP privacy, but Republicans nullified it in the last Congress. The FCC still has authority over the privacy of info collected by traditional cable operators from their subs in the course of business.

There has been no framework adopted for edge provider privacy. But both ISP and edge privacy are implicated by the growing Internet of everything at the speed of Docsis 4.0 and 5G.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the President's chief telecom policy adviser, has sought comment on "a set of user-centric privacy outcomes that underpin the protections that should be produced by any Federal actions on consumer-privacy policy, and a set of high-level goals that describe the outlines of the ecosystem that should be created to provide those protections." 

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.