WASHINGTON, DC – The Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), today held a hearing examining the FCC’s proposed privacy rules. The hearing follows up on a letter sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler regarding the agency’s proposed privacy and data breach notification requirements for broadband Internet service providers (ISPs).
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the traditional federal privacy regulator had its jurisdiction removed when the FCC reclassified broadband as a common carrier. The FCC’s proposed rules would create a separate set of rules governing only ISPs and not other parts of the Internet ecosystem, creating confusion and harming competition.
In his testimony, the Honorable Jon Leibowitz, Co-Chair of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, noted, “The FCC’s proposed restrictive choice mandates that selectively target broadband providers prevent consumers from accessing new products and services provide them no benefits, as well as potentially confuse them. They also constrain ISPs’ ability to compete with edge providers, and may discourage broadband investment in a manner contrary to the FCC’s mandate to promote such investment.”
Doug Brake, Telecommunications Policy Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation echoed Mr. Leibowtiz’s sentiment, stating, “The FCC, however, focuses exclusively on hypothetical harms from information sharing and use by broadband providers, and fails to adequately recognize the significant upside to an additional source of data that can be put to innovative use.”
“Today’s hearing is a direct result of the FCC’s premeditated efforts to supersede the Federal Trade Commission’s successful, enforcement-based approach to consumer privacy with its own predetermined vision of what consumers want and how the Internet should function,” said Chairman Walden. “A robust record of comments warns of higher costs, stifled innovation, and fewer service offerings. None of these are risks we should be willing to take or consequences we are willing to put on American consumers. We should be encouraging competition, not slowing it down with burdensome and inconsistent regulations.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, “These rules simply miss the mark. By singling out broadband providers, the FCC is feeding unbalance into the Internet economy. Until recently, the entire Internet ecosystem successfully operated under the enforcement-based privacy protections of the FTC model and I fear this new approach will reduce competition in the flourishing Internet marketplace.”
For more on today’s hearing including an archived webcast, background memo, and witness testimony click HERE.