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Verizon Wants FCC to Ban States From Protecting Your Privacy

Verizon Wants FCC to Ban States From Protecting Your Privacy

Karl Bode

Wednesday Nov 01 2017 13:29 EDT

Verizon was one of several giant ISPs that

lobbied the GOP and Trump administration to gut consumer broadband privacy rules earlier this year. Lawmakers admitted they utilized the public’s focus on losing health care to quickly dismantle the rules, which would have required ISPs be more transparent about what personal data is collected and sold, and provide working opt out tools for those interested in privacy. The rules were crafted after Verizon was caught covertly tracking users around the internet and AT&T tried to make privacy a luxury option for an additional fee.

After killing the rules, numerous states came forth with their own privacy proposals, and ISP lobbyists have been busy trying to kill those, as well.
Lobbyists for Google, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T collectively killed one such proposal in California, after falsely telling lawmakers the new law would embolden nazis, increase pop ups, and harm consumers. Now Verizon is taking things one step further, by lobbying the FCC to step in and prevent states from protecting consumer privacy.
In a letter and white paper sent last week to the FCC (pdf), Verizon insists the FCC has ample authority to pre-empt state efforts to protect consumer privacy, and should act to prevent states from doing so.
“Allowing every State and locality to chart its own course for regulating broadband is a recipe for disaster,” cries Verizon. “It would impose localized and likely inconsistent burdens on an inherently interstate service, would drive up costs, and would frustrate federal efforts to encourage investment and deployment by restoring the free market that long characterized Internet access service.”
But there’s several things Verizon is ignoring here. One being that the only reason states are trying to pass privacy laws is because Verizon lobbyists convinced former Verizon lawyer and FCC boss Ajit Pai that it was a good idea to kill the FCC’s relatively modest rules. It’s also worth noting that ISPs like Verizon (and the lawmakers paid to love them) have cried about protecting “states rights” when states try to pass protectionist laws hamstringing competitors, but in this case appears eager to trample those same state rights should states actually try and protect consumers.
Verizon makes it abundantly clear it’s also worried that when the FCC votes to kill net neutrality rules later this year, states will similarly try to pass their own rules protecting consumers, something Verizon clearly doesn’t want.
“States and localities have given strong indications that they are prepared to take a similar approach to net neutrality laws if they are dissatisfied with the result of the Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding,” complains Verizon, again ignoring that its lawsuits are the reason that’s happening.FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly has
already stated he’d like to explore using the FCC’s authority to prevent states from protecting consumers. At the time, O’Reilly attacked those defending privacy protections and net neutrality as part of a “progressive agenda to vanquish capitalism and economic liberty.”