New FCC Chair Blocked ISP Privacy Protections Before they Could go Into Effect

President Donald Trump’s newly elected chair of the Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday, that the agency would be blocking privacy rules that are designed to protect customers from data breaches and hacking threats.  You may recall that last year, under President Barack Obama, the FCC developed massive, sweeping privacy rules that would limit how broadband internet providers like Comcast and Verizon could share and sell your sensitive information.

Those rules, which were supposed to go into effect today would, at the very least, require that broadband companies take “reasonable” security measure in order to shield your sensitive information. This information could include things like not only your browsing history and geo-location data, but also your social security number.  The rules would have also required that internet providers contact law enforcement within seven days of a data breach (and notify customers within 30 days).

But now, the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, remarks that these data security measures are actually unfair to internet providers. Instead of imposing such strict FCC privacy regulation on broadband companies, Pai instead has said that he would rather work with the Federal Trade Commission to develop a more comprehensive privacy policy which would otherwise apply to all online companies—to include the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Google.  Of course, these companies all have their own privacy policies—and remain bound to an amalgam of state laws mandating things like data breach notification, but there is currently no comprehensive federal law that acts as a national foundation for privacy rules.

Accordingly, Pai comments, “All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, enforced by the same agency,” in a joint statement he made with the Acting FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen.

The two go on to say, “The federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another — and certainly not when it comes to a marketplace as dynamic as the Internet. So going forward, we will work together to establish a technology-neutral privacy framework for the online world.”

Mignon Clyburn is the lone dissenter (of three) on the FCC’s board—and, unsurprisingly, is the only democrat—voting to simply uphold the not-yet-minted new privacy rules. She argues, “This Order is but a proxy for gutting the Commission’s duly adopted privacy rules — and it does so with very little finesse. With a stroke of the proverbial pen, the Federal Communications Commission — the same agency that should be the ‘cop on the beat’ when it comes to ensuring appropriate consumer protections — is leaving broadband customers without assurances that their providers will keep their data secure

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