Time to Address FCC's Privacy Order | Citizens Against Government Waste

Time to Address FCC's Privacy Order

The WasteWatcher

There is a point where over-regulation can lead to uncertainty.  Such is the case with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Privacy Order.  While the protection of individual privacy is important, the FCC's Privacy Order, adopted on October 27, 2016, imposes a burdensome set of restrictions on providers and throws consumers a confusing set of options to decide how their personal data will be managed.  It also requires onerous reporting requirements by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who provide internet services to consumers across the country. 

On May 26, 2016, CAGW President Thomas Schatz filed comments with the FCC recommending that the agency harmonize its proposed Privacy Rules with those of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to maintain certainty and clarity for consumers and providers using the internet.  On June 27, 2016, Mr. Schatz further replied to the proposed FCC’s rules, recommending that “In developing final rules regarding the protection of privacy for broadband and telecommunications customers, the FCC need look no further than to the FTC as a model to formulate the regulations.”   

However, the FCC failed to harmonize its final Privacy Order with that of the FTC, choosing to create restrictive rules imposed on only one sector of the economy, and developing a confusing mix of opt in/opt out requests for consumer privacy. 

On March 3, 2017, CAGW president Tom Schatz followed up with the FCC supporting several petitions for reconsideration of the FCC’s Privacy Order.  In his comments, Schatz stated, “If these rules are allowed to continue, they could force ISPs to spend an inordinate amount of time and resources on consumer privacy issues, drawing resources away from other areas such as core infrastructure improvements, preparation for the deployment of fifth generation (5G) technological innovations, and improvements to customer service.” 

Implementation of the FCC’s Privacy Order was delayed on March 2, 2017, when the FCC invoked a stay on implementation pending further consideration.  Legislation has also been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate which would utilize the Congressional Review Act to rescind the FCC’s Privacy Order.  The FCC’s Privacy Order has many problems as evidenced by the petitions for reconsideration filed at the FCC, the most egregious being the lack of harmonization with the FTC’s existing privacy framework.  It is time for these rules to go.

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