Markey, Interest Groups Vow to Fight Rollback of Privacy Rules

Say CRA reversal would open up 'unregulated Wild West'

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and a quintet of public interest groups continue to fight for former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's broadband privacy rules.

A divided FCC voted Oct. 27 on the new broadband privacy opt-in regime for sharing web browsing and app info. The order 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.

New FCC chairman Ajit Pai is no fan of the rules, approved under Wheeler last fall over Republican objections. The privacy framework makes third-party sharing of much consumer data an opt-in regime, while edge providers—which are under the Federal Trade Commission's jurisdiction—have no such limitations. Hill Republicans are working on invalidating the rules using the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

Markey and the groups—Public Knowledge, Free Press, Color of Change, the ACLU and Consumers Union—have scheduled a press conference for Feb. 27 in the wake of that congressional Republican push.

Related: Telco ISPs Ask FCC to Reverse Broadband Privacy Rules

"If a measure is passed under the CRA, it would not only kill the new FCC rule, which gives consumers control of how data about them can be used and shared by the ISP, but also eliminate the possibility of enacting any new FCC rules covering ISP privacy protections," the groups argue.

Keeping to the death to privacy theme, they said that "killing the FCC privacy rule with a CRA would open up an unregulated Wild West where consumers would have no defense against abusive invasions of their privacy by their Internet service provider."

ISPs have asked the FCC to stay the implementation of the privacy rules—which have yet to go into effect—and also back a CRA invalidation approach.