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March 8, 2017

Free-Market Oriented Groups Urge FCC to Reverse ISP Privacy Rule

  Washington Internet Daily

Free-market oriented groups urged the FCC to reverse its ISP privacy rules, approved in October. The FCC posted thousands of public comments this week on the rules (see 1703060054), many of them urging the agency to better align its rules with those of the FTC.

The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) said the FCC should reject the October rules. "Part of the FCC's agenda under new Chairman Ajit Pai should be to undo the errors and mistakes of the previous regime," IPI said in a filing in docket 16-106. Under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, "the FCC made a distinct departure from sound policy analysis, disregarded empirical evidence, showed contempt for input from Congress and from other federal agencies, neglected cost/benefit and other economic analysis, and stubbornly pursued a narrow ideological agenda," IPI said.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation reminded the FCC that the privacy rules were approved in the "waning days" of the Obama presidency. "Thankfully, the Commission now has an opportunity to revisit these flawed rules," ITIF said in a filing. "The Commission should vacate these rules in their entirety or significantly revise the rules such that they 'parallel the [Federal Trade Commission's] framework as closely as possible' so as to not erect technology-based regulatory silos, unduly impede innovation, or diminish dynamic, cross-sector competition."

Consumer Policy Solutions said in a filing it makes little sense for the FCC to impose unique rules for just ISPs. "The process for developing privacy regulations should be through a multi-stakeholder process with FCC, FTC, and NTIA collaboration with consumer organizations, industry, academics, government and policy leaders, and privacy policy experts," the group said.

"Consumers want and need a more consistent approach to privacy regulation that will match their online experience." But the Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Institute for Public Representation, Common Sense Kids Action, Consumer Action and the Electronic Privacy Information Center said the FCC should preserve the rules. "Children's Advocates oppose the request of some petitioners to rescind the rules in their entirety," the groups said in a filing.

"Because the FTC's Section 5 jurisdiction does not extend to common carriers, the effect of rescinding the rules in their entirety could mean that parents would have no control over their ISP's use of their children's information." The groups also opposed petitions seeking to modify the privacy rules by changing the classification of certain sensitive information to nonsensitive, or replacing opt-in consent with opt-out. "These proposed modifications would significantly weaken privacy protections for children."


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