The Competitive Carriers Association says the FCC has plenty of reason for undoing the October 2016 broadband privacy order, which ISPs, advertisers, congressional Republicans and others are pushing for.
In reply comments this week on petitions for reconsideration and those opposing them, CCA said those opposing the rule rollback rely on arguments that "deny the reality of the broadband marketplace" and either "ignore or minimize" the authority the FCC will still have over privacy after the order is dispensed with.
One of those realities, CCA says, is that the order is uniquely burdensome on smaller providers, who get "very limited relief" from the rules, and only those with 100,000 subs or fewer, which they argue is too narrow a definition.
The FCC under Ajit Pai in a separate proceeding expanded the carve-out from Open Internet enhanced transparency rules from systems with 100,000 subs or fewer to 250,000 or fewer to accommodate smaller carriers.
CCA applauded the Pai FCC's vote to stay the data-security provisions of the broadband privacy order, saying it prevented them "from investing substantial and potentially unnecessary resources towards compliance."
Unnecessary because the rules may go away entirely if Congress approves resolutions to invalidate them using the Congressional Review Act, or if Pai and the FCC reverse them on further review, or if the Open Internet order is invalidated by Congress or Title II reversed by the FCC, since it was that Title II reclassification with which the FCC deeded itself broadband authority that had been the purview of the Federal Trade Commission.
"As previously stated and as it appears is the plan, the Commission should align its privacy regime with the Federal Trade Commission’s ('FTC') effective and well-regarded privacy rules," said CCA. "Reconsidering the 2016 Privacy Order will ensure consumers can expect uniform privacy practices, and will prevent edge providers from securing an undue competitive advantage over broadband providers in the Internet ecosystem."
While CCA wants the FCC to vacate the privacy rules, or at least align them with FTC oversight of edge provider privacy, if that does not happen, "the Commission should, at a minimum, reconsider and expand the relief provided to small providers."