Leahy Comments On FCC’s Adoption Today Of Privacy Rules, & Announcement Of Rulemaking On Forced Consumer Arbitration

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On The FCC’s Adoption Of Privacy Rules For Broadband Providers
And Announcement Of Rulemaking On Forced Consumer Arbitration

October 27, 2016

[The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday adopted a final order establishing rules for the use of consumer information by broadband service providers. For the first time there will be clear and meaningful regulations requiring express consumer consent before a broadband consumer provider can use information including financial and health information, as well as web browsing and app usage history. Senator Leahy, who is the author of the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, previously joined two letters to the FCC encouraging the adoption of strong privacy rules.

Senator Leahy also urged the FCC to ban the use of forced arbitration clauses in broadband customer agreements. While the FCC did not adopt such a rule today, Chairman Wheeler announced that the FCC has begun the rulemaking process to address the use of forced arbitration by telecommunication providers. Senator Leahy has long raised concerns about the practice of forced arbitration. He is a long-time co-sponsor of the Arbitration Fairness Act and he introduced the Restoring Statutory Rights Act earlier this year.]

“The FCC took an important step today in the continued fight for consumer privacy. The Commission was right to adopt new rules requiring consumers to expressly consent before internet service providers may use their sensitive private information. However, I believe that there should be a higher standard for privacy protections across the Internet. We must also do more to ensure that the information we share with broadband providers and others is adequately protected against those who try to access it without authorization. That is why Congress must pass my Consumer Privacy Protection Act to require companies to enact stronger data security measures that will better protect consumers’ personal information. In the digital age, there simply must be a higher standard for protecting our emails, photos, and web browsing history from hackers and criminals.

“I am also encouraged that Chairman Wheeler announced today that the FCC will be conducting a formal rulemaking in the coming months to address the prevalenceof unfair forced arbitration clauses by telecommunications providers. The evidence of the profound negative impacts of forced arbitration for consumers continues to mount — forcing people into a shadow justice system without transparency must not be tolerated.”

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