Congressman Doyle Leads Floor Fight to Protect Broadband Privacy

 
Washington, DC – Congressman Doyle (D-PA-14) managed the Democrats’ opposition during House consideration of S.J.Res. 34, legislation that would overturn a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation protecting Americans’ broadband internet privacy.
 
In October, the FCC adopted rules to protect the privacy of internet users. These rules required broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to secure consumers’ consent before using or sharing any of their sensitive information like financial information, social security numbers, or web browsing history. 
 
“These modest rules don’t stop Internet Service Providers from using data for advertising, and profiling, and whatever else—so long as they ask first,” Congressman Doyle said on the House Floor. “Broadband providers see literally everything you do online. Without these rules, these companies don’t have to ask before selling all that information, and they don’t have to take “reasonable measures” to protect that information when they collect it.”
 
The FCC regulations allowed ISPs to use and share non-sensitive consumer information unless a consumer proactively opted out. These rules also required broadband providers to undertake reasonable measures to protect consumers’ data security.
 
S.J.Res. 34 would disapprove the FCC’s broadband privacy rules. It was approved by the Senate on March 23 by a party-line vote of 50 to 48.  
 
The House approved S.J.Res. 34 today by a vote of 215 to 205, with 215 Republicans voting in favor of it.
 
Click here to see a video of Congressman Doyle’s remarks. The text of his remarks on the House Floor follow below.
 
Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I rise today in strong opposition to Senate Joint Resolution 34.
 
Today we are wading waste deep in the swamp.  The American people did not ask for this resolution. In fact, no company will even put its name behind this effort. Instead this resolution is the result of an explicit written request from Washington lobbyists. These lobbyists make the bogus claim that having actual protections will confuse consumers and the only way to help clear this confusion is to have no rules at all. No consumer has come forward to support this position. No consumer has said that this argument even makes sense.  
 
I challenge every member of this body at their next town hall meeting to have a show of hands of how many people think it’s a good idea to allow their Internet Service Provider to sell their personal information without their permission. Then ask them how they would vote if their congressman supported allowing corporations to do this.
 
This resolution is of the swamp and for the swamp and no one else.
 
The rules that this resolution would overturn are simple and common sense.  They don’t require much—only three things:
 
(1) Internet Service Providers should ask permission before selling your private internet browsing history, app usage, or other sensitive information; 
 
(2) Once they have your information, Internet Service Providers should take “reasonable measures” to protect it; and 
 
(3) If the information does get stolen, the companies should quickly let you know. 
 
That’s it. These modest rules don’t stop Internet Service Providers from using data for advertising, and profiling, and whatever else—so long as they ask first.
 
ISPs have an obligation under these rules not to dive into the personal lives of Americans, unless that’s what those Americans want. They just need to ask first.
 
That’s particularly true because broadband providers see literally everything you do online. Every website you visit. Every app. Every Device. Every time.  
 
By analyzing your internet usage and browsing history, these companies will know more about you than members of your own family.  More than you would tell your doctor.  More about you than you know about yourself. And without these rules, these companies don’t have to ask before selling all that information, and they don’t have to take “reasonable measures” to protect that information when they collect it.
 
Make no mistake that anyone who votes for this bill is telling your constituents that they no longer have the freedom to decide how to control their own information. You have given that freedom away to big corporations.  
 
More importantly, there aren’t other rules to fall back on if Congress scraps these ones.  Critics of the rules argue that the Federal Trade Commission should oversee the privacy protections for broadband providers. But under current law they have no authority to do so and this CRA won’t do a thing to fix that. Under a Federal Court of Appeals case, the FTC has no authority over mobile broadband providers at all.
 
And to those that say that the FCC can evaluate complaints on a case by case basis using its statutory authority, the current Chairman of the FCC has said that Section 222 cannot be used to protect personal information and that rules are necessary to enforce this statute. I’d like to introduce that statement into the record.  
 
Without these protections, there will be no clear rules of the road. At a time when foreign actors like the Russians, the Chinese, and everyone else under the sun are constantly trying to steal our data and compromise our security, it would be irresponsible to roll back the only federal safeguards we have. I urge my colleagues to consider that when voting.
 
###