March 7, 2017 | By Jeremy Gillula and Corynne McSherry and Kate Tummarello

Congress is Trying to Roll Back Internet Privacy Protections As You Read This

Take ActionCall congress now!

Back in 2014 over 3 million Internet users told the U.S. government loudly and clearly: we value our online security, we value our online privacy, and we value net neutrality. Our voices helped convince the FCC to enact smart net neutrality regulations—including long-needed privacy rules.

But it appears some members of Congress didn’t get the message, because they’re trying to roll back the FCC’s privacy rules right now without having anything concrete ready to replace them. We’re talking here about basic requirements, like getting your explicit consent before using your private information to do anything other than provide you with Internet access (such as targeted advertising).  Given how much private information your ISP has about you, strict limits on what they do with it are essential.

Luckily, we can stop this train wreck before it happens. But we need your help: please call your senators and your representative right now and tell them to oppose any use of the Congressional Review Act (“the CRA”—they’ll know what it is) to roll back the FCC’s new rules about ISP privacy practices.

If you want more ammo for your conversation with congressional staff, read on. But if you’re already fired up, please click here to take action right now.

Together, we can stop Congress from undermining crucial privacy protections. 

What's the tl;dr?

Late last year, the FCC passed rules that would require ISPs to protect your private information. It covered the things you would usually associate with having an account with a major company (your name and address, financial information, etc.) but also things like any records they keep on your browsing history, geolocation information (think cell phones), and the content of your communications. Overall, the rules were pretty darn good.

But now, Senator Flake (R-AZ) and Representative Blackburn (R-TN) want to use a tool known as a Congressional Review Act resolution to totally repeal those protections. The CRA allows Congress to veto any regulation written by a federal agency (like the FCC). Worse yet, it forbids the agency from passing any “substantially similar” regulations in the future, so the FCC would be forbidden from ever trying to regulate ISP privacy practices. At the same time, some courts have limited the Federal Trade Commission’s ability protect your privacy, too.

With the hands of two federal agencies tied, ISPs themselves would be largely in change of protecting their customer’s privacy. In other words, the fox will be guarding the henhouse.

Act Now

If we seem a little insistent that you take action to stop this, that’s because we sincerely believe that together, we can stop this disaster before it comes to pass. Every time someone calls their representative or senators, an angel gets its wings we’re one step closer to protecting the privacy of all U.S. Internet users. If we raise our voices the same way we did when it came to passing net neutrality, Congress won’t be able to ignore us.

Take ActionCall congress now!

So please, take action and call your senator and representative today, and tell them not to use the CRA to repeal the FCC’s privacy rules.


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