Trump Repeals Broadband Privacy Rules

On April 3rd, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a repeal of Obama-era broadband privacy rules. The Broadband Privacy Rules, which were approved last October under a Democratic majority at the FCC, would have required broadband companies to receive permission before collecting data on users’ online activities.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai praised the repeal for having “appropriately invalidated one part of the Obama-era plan for regulating the internet.” He said that those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were designed to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers.

The bill uses a little-known tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that allows Congress and the president to overturn recently passed agency regulations. A successful CRA bill also prevents the agency from implementing similar rules in the future.

The repeal by President Trump is seen as a win for telecommunications companies, who disagreed with strict privacy regulation that applied to internet service providers, especially in light of the fact that internet companies like Google, Twitter and others have free rein to collect similar types of data. However, proponents of Obama-era privacy rules argue that broadband companies provide access to essential internet service, in many areas without much competition, and are therefore different from social media networks. One can live without Google or Facebook, but it may be difficult to stay away from internet service altogether.