Internet users across California have been calling their state legislators to demand they restore their broadband privacy rights by passing A.B. 375.
So far that public pressure has been overriding the opposition from major cable and telephone companies (although many ISPs based in California actually support the privacy rules) as the bill continues moving forward. If you have not had a chance to call your state senator, please make that call soon before the bill moves to the Senate floor in the coming weeks.
Next Steps for A.B. 375
EFF testified before the state legislature on the need to fill the gap created by Congress when it repealed the broadband privacy regulations enacted by the Federal Communications Commission and prohibited the FCC from taking further measures to protect consumers’ personal data. We actively worked to combat the misinformation campaign launched by the bill’s opponents in a last ditch effort to kill the bill. If A.B. 375 becomes law, Californians will have the protections they were originally going to receive from the federal regulations.
Now that two key Senate committees have passed the legislation with bipartisan support, A.B. 375 sits in the Senate Rules Committee. It will be sent to the Senate floor for a vote after some technical amendments are made.
Several state senators requested that the bill’s author, Assemblymember Ed Chau, who also chairs the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, further amend the legislation to more tightly conform to the FCC’s rules. Both the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communicationsand the Senate Judiciary Committee noted differences between the FCC privacy rules and A.B. 375. These included a slightly broader definition of personal information in state law and the inclusion of the California Public Utilities Commission’s definition of broadband service providers.
California’s A.B. 375 Will Also Ban Pay-for-Privacy Schemes
The only substantive difference between A.B. 375 and the FCC’s privacy rules is a ban on making people pay even more for broadband in exchange for privacy protections. AT&T specifically trotted out a plan to charge people $30 more per month for the privilege of not selling their personal information.
Since the FCC decided to not ban pay-for-privacy schemes outright and Congress went further by impairing the agency’s ability to protect consumer privacy, AT&T appears to be contemplating bringing back its privacy tax on already high subscription fees. If A.B. 375 becomes law though, those plans will never hit Californians.
The Bill Must Be Approved by the Legislature By September 15th
This is the official deadline for bills that can be contemplated by the Governor in California. That means we have one month for the bill to pass the Senate and the Assembly. There’s no doubt that Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon’s lobbying arms will push even harder on California’s legislators to kill the bill. If you are a California resident, you have to make sure you call your elected official and register your support with A.B. 375, the California Broadband Privacy Act.