Oppose Efforts to Implement Patchwork Privacy Regulations - Internet Privacy - Minnesota | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Oppose Efforts to Implement Patchwork Privacy Regulations - Internet Privacy - Minnesota

State Action

The Minnesota Senate

75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

St. Paul, Minnesota 55155

 

Dear Senator,

I urge you to oppose efforts to impose restrictions on consumer privacy at the state level, in order to avoid a patchwork of confusing privacy laws across the country that could hinder innovation and broadband infrastructure development in your communities.

Much of the efforts at the state level are in direct response to passage of S. J. Res. 34, which provided for the disapproval of the heavy-handed privacy rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on October 26, 2016, that imposed restrictive privacy rules only to internet service providers (ISPs). The law simply restores the status quo for privacy regulations that for decades covered all actors on the internet equally, rather than singling out one industry for special treatment.

Currently, consumer information privacy for data held by ISPs is protected under Title II, Section 222 of the Communications Act of 1934.  S. J. Res. 34 did nothing to change those protections, and recent claims that passing S. J. Res. 34 means that ISPs can now sell information to the highest bidder are part of “a lot of sky-is-falling hyperbole,” according to former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman John Leibowitz, an appointee of President Obama.  During his Saturday, April 1, 2017 appearance on the Michael Smerconish program on CNN, Chairman Leibowitz noted that the repeal of the FCC rules will allow regulators to apply a single set of privacy rules across the entire industry.

Indeed, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Acting FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen issued a joint statement on March 1, 2017 noting that they would work together to bring a consistent approach to regulating internet privacy.  They said that jurisdiction over privacy and data security related to broadband providers should go back to the FTC, and that every actor “in the online space should be subject to the same rules, enforced by the same agency.”  They added, “The federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another … we will work together to establish a technology-neutral privacy framework for the online world.  Such a uniform approach is in the best interests of consumers and has a long track record of success.”

States should avoid wasting taxpayer funds pursuing a patchwork of consumer internet privacy laws that will only serve to undermine existing federal laws that are currently enforced by both the FTC and the FCC.  I urge you to oppose efforts to include privacy enforcement language in your upcoming deliberations, and instead focus on reducing barriers to broadband infrastructure deployment in order to bridge the digital divide.

Sincerely,

Tom Schatz

President, CCAGW

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