Mirroring the actions of House Communications Subcommittee chairwoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) unveiled a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in the House last Thursday that would nullify broadband privacy rules adopted by the FCC last October. Like the joint CRA resolution introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), on March 7, H.J. Res. 68 “provides congressional disapproval . . . of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services.’”

Although the FCC acted earlier this month to stay provisions of the October 2016 order, which subjected Internet service providers (ISPs) “to a different standard than that applied to other companies in the Internet ecosystem” by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Blackburn maintained that, in adopting the broadband privacy order, the FCC “unilaterally swipe[d] jurisdiction from the FTC by creating its own privacy rules for ISPs.” Asserting that the FTC “has been our government’s sole online privacy regulator for over twenty years,” Blackburn told reporters: “we look forward to . . . returning jurisdiction to the FTC.” Nevertheless, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), a strong supporter of the broadband privacy rules alongside other Democrats in Congress, promised to “fight to protect the FCC’s essential broadband privacy rules,” proclaiming: “just as phone companies cannot sell information about American’s phone calls, an [ISP] should not be allowed to sell sensitive consumer information without affirmative consent.”

Meanwhile, in a speech Wednesday at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai confirmed that efforts are underway at the FCC to identify and roll back agency regulations that could hamper broadband network deployment. Pai signaled that the initiative dovetails with his goal of promoting digital participation in the U.S. economy, which goal, in turn, constitutes one of the four guiding principles of his FCC chairmanship. The other three guiding principles, said Pai, are (1) harnessing the power of IP based technology to create new jobs and opportunities, (2) promoting free markets as the keys to investment and innovation, and (3) instilling a “healthy respect” for the workings of free markets. In keeping with these principles, Pai informed his audience that “I’ve instructed all of the Commission’s bureaus to identify FCC rules that are raising the costs of broadband buildout,” adding: “if the benefits of those rules don’t outweigh their costs, we’ll begin the process of repealing them.”