Congress Attacks Broadband Privacy Protections, Payback to Comcast and Verizon

Congress Attacks Broadband Privacy Protections, Payback to Comcast and Verizon

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will target Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy protections. The U.S. Senate voted to kill the same protections last week.

Every American has an interest in protecting the broadband privacy rule. The issue is simple: Will Comcast, Verizon and friends have the right to track us while we are online and gather private information – including information about where we are, our finances, our health status, and much more – and sell it to marketers without our permission, or not? It’s hard to imagine there’s anyone in America, other than those with a direct profit interest in trading private information, who wants Comcast and the rest to have the right to systematically and pervasively invade our privacy.

So why did the Senate vote to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rule, and why is the House of Representatives dangerously close to doing the same thing? You don’t even need to do a Google search to get the answer. It’s just plain common sense: Members of Congress are paying back their political patrons at the expense of their constituents. In the past two years, Comcast spent more than $35 million and Verizon spent nearly $25 million on lobbying and political contributions. Now they are aiming to collect a return on their investment.

As the House approaches its vote on the privacy rule, members of Congress should have no illusions: If the privacy rule is repealed, Americans will pay a privacy price, but members who vote to kill these protections will pay a political one.

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