Louise Line: Protecting Your Privacy
After two failed weeks of wasted time and taxpayer money trying to jam an ACA repeal bill through the House, Congressional Republicans are still putting forward dangerous policies that would harm the American people. This week, the Majority is working quickly and quietly under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rescind commonsense privacy protections, putting every American who uses the internet at risk just to enrich the bottom line of their corporate interests.
Back in 2015, regulation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) was transferred from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which now protects consumer privacy for the internet and our country’s telephone networks. The FCC put in place the Privacy Protection Rule, requiring ISPs to ask your permission before collecting or selling the sensitive and personal information you input online on anything from shopping websites to doctors’ appointment sign ups. This could also include private information like home addresses, financial and health data, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage, and confidential information regarding your children and family members. If ISPs are allowed to collect and sell this information, American consumers are at risk of increased identity theft, data breach, and financial fraud.
But now, Republican leaders in Washington have introduced S.J. Res. 34, which would use the CRA to overturn this privacy protection. This move would allow internet service providers to access your private browsing history, including all the sensitive information collected through your internet use, and sell it without your consent. Troubling still, the FCC would be barred under the CRA from putting forth similar policy protections in the future. Perhaps most concerning is that with this regulation, the FCC could only protect you after your data has been comprised. This means a faceless corporation could take your private information and sell it and you would be left abandoned with no legal defense against this abusive invasion while it was happening.
It is shocking to me that with everything else our country is facing, the Majority is making eliminating your privacy their top priority. In fact, nearly 75 percent of internet users in a recent PEW Research study said they want more control over who can see and use their information, not less.
At the start of the 115th Congress, Speaker Ryan announced to the American people that, “We hear you. We will do right by you. And we will deliver.” This effort fails that test. It is a direct affront to privacy and consumer rights and I strongly oppose it.