GOP-sponsored bill in the US Senate reverse the FCC's rules regarding the protection of privacy of consumers who use the internet, and that bill is up for a vote on Thursday!

It's interesting how this bill has basically gotten no mainstream coverage, isn't it?  While the Senate had lively oratory over the measure on Wednesday, there was barely any coverage of that debate.

C-SPAN captured the debate.  The debate begins around the 6:53:00 mark.

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), who helped create the 1996 Telecommunications Act,  stood in opposition to the bill, claiming that it would "allow ISPs to sell your personal info to the highest bidder."

“How much privacy are people in this country entitled to?” he asked. “Are we going to allow the broadband companies to determine that?"

“Yes, there are two sides to this,” he said. “You want the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive, but you have to be able to say no, I don’t want you in my living room. Yes, we’re capitalists, but we’re capitalists with a conscience.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai voiced opposition to the FCC regulating the internet as a public utility in 2015, but that fell on deaf ears.  At that time, the internet was taken out of the hands of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and placed under the FCC.

Flake says that his resolution is the "first step toward restoring the FTC’s light-touch, consumer-friendly approach. It will not change or lessen existing consumer privacy protections. It empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared."

However, all this bill does is remove the FCC's Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services, which is summarized:

...the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) adopts final rules based on public comments applying the privacy requirements of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to broadband Internet access service (BIAS) and other telecommunications services. In adopting these rules the Commission implements the statutory requirement that telecommunications carriers protect the confidentiality of customer proprietary information. The privacy framework in these rules focuses on transparency, choice, and data security, and provides heightened protection for sensitive customer information, consistent with customer expectations. The rules require carriers to provide privacy notices that clearly and accurately inform customers; obtain opt-in or opt-out customer approval to use and share sensitive or non-sensitive customer proprietary information, respectively; take reasonable measures to secure customer proprietary information; provide notification to customers, the Commission, and law enforcement in the event of data breaches that could result in harm; not condition provision of service on the surrender of privacy rights; and provide heightened notice and obtain affirmative consent when offering financial incentives in exchange for the right to use a customer's confidential information. The Commission also revises its current telecommunications privacy rules to harmonize today's privacy rules for all telecommunications carriers, and provides a tailored exemption from these rules for enterprise customers of telecommunications services other than BIAS.

The bill does not put ISPs back under the FTC and would leave no provisions to stop the sell of your data.  If, as Senator Flake suggests, you are going to provide "the light touch of the FTC," it would seem you would push internet back under FTC.

"It will not change or lessen existing consumer privacy protections," Flake said.  "It empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared."

I'm not sure which existing consumer privacy protections he is referencing.

Why leave it to non-elected bureaucrats in the FTC or the FCC to implement rules and regulations, which our Constitution puts in the hands of Congress?

Flake's co-sponsors are US Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.),  Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

Senators Jeff Flake, Rand Paul and Marsha Blackburn could not be reached for comment due to their voicemail boxes answering and being full.

While I am a capitalist, I'm also for as much privacy as I can get, especially on the internet.  I was against Net Neutrality and bringing the internet under the FCC.  I am against unelected bureaucrats making rules and regulations, which our Constitution does not allow them to do.  I'm wondering if we, as individuals, should not be utilizing the market itself to protect our own privacy with new technology.

However, this bill is left undone by not returning the internet back under the FTC.  It appears to me that it simply removes the restrictions of ISPs to sell your data to those with the most money and leave you out of the process.  Like RINOCare, this could be handled properly in one bill by simply returning the internet back under the FTC.  If that was done, there would be no need for this bill as the FCC would no longer have any oversight in the matter.

Feel free to contact your senator today to voice your opinion.

For more on this issue:

Jeopardy: What Does a Liberal Look Like When Confronted on Net Neutrality?

Republicans Hold Net Neutrality Hearings And Everyone Still Disagrees

Net Neutrality: What it Really Means, and How it Could Impact You

Cruz: Government Control of Internet is Threat to Free Speech

FCC Commissioner on New "Open Internet Rules": "The Internet is not broken. There is no problem for the government to solve.”

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