Senator Flake Moves to Use CRA to Repeal Critically Important Personal Privacy Protections

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal the broadband privacy rules that were approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last October and have not yet taken effect. These rules would give individuals meaningful control over the personal information that their internet service providers (ISPs) can glean about their online activities – control that they do not otherwise have and that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not have the authority to provide. The rules also require ISPs to take reasonable steps to secure personal data and notify individuals if it has been compromised. The FCC is in the process of considering petitions for reconsideration of the rules brought by several companies and trade associations. The use of the CRA to repeal the rules would short-circuit that process and prevent the FCC from ever adopting similar privacy and security protections for internet users again.

The following statement can be attributed to Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at Consumer Federation of America:

“The proposal to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s recently adopted broadband privacy rules is give-away to big corporations and a slap in the face of Americans who rely on the internet as an essential communications service. It would leave internet users with no real say in how their broadband service providers can use their personal information for commercial purposes and with no guarantee that their data will be kept reasonably secure. Even worse, it would prevent the FCC from ever enacting similar rules again to protect the privacy and security of internet users.

Senators should not be fooled by claims that the Federal Trade Commission can fill the gap that would be left if these rules are repealed. It has no jurisdiction over broadband services and no rulemaking authority to ensure that Americans have actual privacy rights. Internet users would be faced with the same situation that the rules sought to address; a “take it or leave it” deal in which they must allow their personal data to be sold to the highest bidders if they want to go online. Senators should vote “no” to robbing Americans of their hard-won broadband privacy rights.”

Contact: Susan Grant, 202-939-1003

The Consumer Federation of America is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.