Californians now have a chance to reclaim crucial online privacy protections.
Earlier this year, Congress narrowly voted to repeal federal privacy rules that kept your ISP from selling information about who you are and what you do online without your permission. Today, California legislators are introducing new state legislation—the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, A.B. 375 (Chau)— that would effectively reinstate those rules for Internet users in California.
ISPs are our gatekeepers to the Internet, and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our privacy to these companies just to get online.
The wildly unpopular vote in Congress earlier this year undid years of work at the FCC to create online privacy rules that codified and expanded on long-standing privacy protections. The updated rules, set to go into effect in late 2017, were necessary to protect personal information revealed to your ISP.
Without these privacy protections, ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon—companies that you already pay to access the Internet—will have free rein to make even more money off of you by selling information about what you look at, what you buy, who you talk to, and more, online. And that ability to sell your information without your permission will open the door to measures that further harm your privacy and security on the Internet.
Because of the tool Congress used to repeal the FCC’s online privacy rules—called a Congressional Review Act resolution—the FCC can’t write similar rules in the future. And thanks to the current legal landscape, there’s no other federal agency that can protect Internet users from privacy violations by their ISPs.
That means state legislatures are the best place for Internet users to fight to reinstate their privacy rights. Eighteen other states have already taken steps to consider similar measures with Oregon’s HB 2813 (Williamson, Clem, Sanchez, and Marsh) being the most recent bill to be introduced.
The ISPs fought hard—using debunked industry talking points—to win in Congress. And since the rules were repealed at a federal level, ISPs have “pledged" to protect their customers’ privacy. But we know that their promises leave plenty of room for them to sell your information.
With A.B. 375, we have a chance to protect our privacy from ISPs’ privacy violations in California.
Don’t let ISPs put their profits ahead of your privacy. Tell your state representatives to support A.B. 375 (Chau).
UPDATE (6/20/17): An earlier version of the post incorrectly identified the number of states with broadband privacy measures. In addition to California, eighteens states have introduced or considered broadband privacy legislation.