WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, the California legislature is expected to vote on a bill that would enact the same privacy regulations on Internet service providers that the FCC had attempted to impose under the previous administration. Like the FCC’s rules, which were repealed early this year by Congress using the Congressional Review Act, the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act would create sweeping requirements for users to opt-in to allow the sharing of data that falls under a broad definition of sensitive information.

The bill shares much of the problems of the FCC rules, with the added issue of worsening inconsistency in privacy regulations around the country,” said TechFreedom President Berin Szóka. “Having a patchwork of state policies applied to an inherently global, interstate structure would be a serious obstacle to innovation.”

Like the FCC proposal, the bill before California’s legislature arbitrarily singles out ISPs as needing a unique set of rules governing how they collect data apart from the regulations that other Internet companies are subject to,” Szóka continued. “This regulatory imbalance distorts the playing field, to the detriment of both competition and consumers.”

Ultimately, this bill is just as unnecessary as these FCC’s actions in 2016 were,” concluded Szóka. “ISPs have already committed to obtaining permission before sharing customer information. The FCC has authority under Title II to bring cases against ISPs that violate this commitment, as does the California attorney general under the state’s Unfair Competition Law. Even the FCC’s proposal to undo Title II reclassification would simply return broadband privacy to the Federal Trade Commission, and the FTC’s 2012 Privacy Report already makes clear that sharing sensitive customer information, like browsing logs, with third parties requires opt-in. Contrary to the breathless claims that have driven media coverage of this issue, there is no market today for ‘selling your browser history.  Even if there were, it could not be done unless users wanted it.”


We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See our other work on broadband privacy, including: