On Monday, President Trump signed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval repealing the broadband privacy rules that were adopted by the FCC last October. The CRA resolution was previously adopted by House members on March 28 by a 215-205 margin. A week before the House vote, an identical resolution passed the Senate along partisan lines by a vote of 50-48. In addition to invalidating FCC rules that required Internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain opt-in consent from consumers before collecting and sharing certain types of “sensitive” data, the new law also bars the FCC from adopting similar rules in the future that govern ISP collection and disclosure of consumer personal information.
Two days later, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined seven Senate Democrats in urging the nation’s top providers of fixed and wireless broadband network services to comply voluntarily with the FCC’s now-defunct broadband privacy framework writing to the CEOs of seven major broadband network ISPs that include AT&T, CenturyLink, Inc., and Sprint Corporation, the senators requested the companies’ commitment to providing their subscribers “with the same level of privacy and security protections as stipulated in the FCC’s broadband privacy order.” Voicing their belief “that broadband providers should follow strong privacy and security rules that give consumers control over how their information is shared,” the senators asked the CEOs to provide information on “how your company plans to protect the privacy of the millions of Americans who rely on your services to connect to the Internet.”
Meanwhile, some industry officials joined FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in welcoming the new law. As U.S. Telecom Association President Jonathan Spatler praised Trump’s decision “to hit the reset button by stopping rules that would have created a confusing and conflicting privacy framework,” American Cable Association (ACA) President Matthew Polka promised that ACA’s members “will continue to protect their customers’ private data while the leaders of the [FCC] and the Federal Trade Commission work to establish a less burdensome privacy framework.” Confirming that the FCC “will be working with the Federal Trade Commission to restore the FTC’s authority to policy Internet service providers’ privacy practices,” Pai told reporters: “we need to put America’s most experienced and expert privacy cop back on the beat.”