Sixteen state attorneys general (AGs) sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on 9 September 2016, expressing concerns about the FCC’s proposed rule, “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services.” The proposed rule is a follow-up to the FCC’s 2015 Open  Internet Order, which reclassified broadband providers (ISPs) as common carriers, subjecting them to Title II of the Communications Act. The proposed rule would establish new consumer privacy rules for consumers, and would only apply to ISPs and not to websites, applications or other “edge services.”

The AGs expressed concern that the rule be construed “to pre-empt existing state laws that effectively protect consumers’ privacy,”  and would “foster a Byzantine regulatory environment rather than clear, enforceable requirements that improve data privacy for all consumers.” The AGs concluded that the proposed rule “is not conducive to better outcomes” in the context of the already existing complex regulatory environment, and urged the FCC to withdraw  the proposed rule “and engage with the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General to determine the most effective path forward to protect consumers and their privacy.”

The FCC is expected to schedule a final vote on the proposed rule before the end of the year.