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March 6, 2017

FCC Should Withdraw Privacy Order, Give FTC Lead Over Internet Privacy

  Institute for Policy Innovation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 06, 2017

CONTACT: Erin Humiston, (972) 874-5139, or

DALLAS— The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should reconsider and withdraw its 2016 Privacy Order as an early step in undoing the many mistakes and overreaches made by the agency under its previous Chairman, and allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take the lead over Internet privacy, said Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) president Tom Giovanetti.
“The Privacy Order is not only unnecessary and incoherent with existing federal privacy policies, but is actively harmful to continued broadband development,” writes Giovanetti in comments filed today. “Arguably, the Privacy Order is even a betrayal of the forbearance commitments Chairman Wheeler made just two years earlier after reclassifying broadband as a Title II service.”
Giovanetti offered specific objections to the Privacy Order, which he points out was adopted in haste just ten days before the 2016 presidential election.

  • The FTC is clearly the correct federal agency to enforce privacy protections, since the FTC has an established and successful privacy framework, and possesses the organizational competence to administer a privacy framework. 
  • The FCC ignored the FTC privacy framework, failed to coordinate with the FTC, and in fact stripped the FTC of its privacy enforcement mandate.
  • The FCC Privacy Order irrationally focused exclusively on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which in most cases have fewer customer interactions intersecting on privacy than do so-called “edge” providers and other broadband participants.
  • The FCC did not follow a reasonable policy process in drafting its Privacy Order
  • The FCC’s Privacy Order is a dramatic, unwarranted and confusing change from previous policy.
  • The FCC does not have the legal authority to mandate or enforce privacy regulations. 
  • There will be no harm to consumers from reconsideration and withdrawal of the FCC Privacy Order.

“Part of the FCC’s agenda under new Chairman Ajit Pai should be to undo the errors and mistakes of the previous regime,” said Giovanetti. “While there remains much for the current FCC to undertake in order to encourage market-based innovation in communications, a priority must be removing barriers unwisely erected by the previous FCC, among those being the recent Privacy Order.”

The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is an independent, nonprofit public policy organization based in Dallas. IPI president Tom Giovanetti is available for interview by contacting Erin Humiston at (972) 874-5139, or


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