FCC votes to block internet privacy rule that would protect consumers’ personal data

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday voted 2-1 along party lines to block a new internet privacy rule from taking effect.

The rule would have required internet service providers to take more stringent steps to protect consumers’ personal data.

The provision was part of a larger set of broadband privacy rules passed by the FCC in October under the Obama administration, and set to go into effect on Thursday.

The measure called for broadband providers to take “reasonable” measures to ensure the security of customer data. But critics said that it would have set up different requirements than privacy rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen issued a joint statement arguing that privacy should be returned to the FTC’s jurisdiction.

“We still believe that jurisdiction over broadband providers’ privacy and data security practices should be returned to the FTC, the nation’s expert agency with respect to these important subjects,” they said in the statement. “All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, enforced by the same agency.”

The temporary stay will be in place until the FCC votes on a reconsideration of the rules.

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the sole Democrat on the commission, blasted the vote on Wednesday, issuing a dissent.

“If a provider simply decides not to adequately protect a customer’s information and does not notify them when a breach inevitably occurs, there will be no recompense as a matter of course,” Clyburn wrote.

Clyburn also cited a court decision last year that hamstrung the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to enforce privacy protections, and argued that there is now no agency to ensure consumers’ data was secure

When the FCC passed its landmark net neutrality rules two years ago this week, it reclassified internet service providers as common carriers.

In August 2016, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that meant the FTC no longer had the authority to regulate service providers when it came to privacy issues.


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