Client Alert

U.S. Senate Approves Resolution to Repeal FCC’s Broadband Privacy Rules; Resolution Heads to U.S. House of Representatives for Consideration

March 24, 2017

By Sherrese M. Smith & Michael F. London

Yesterday, the United States Senate approved a joint resolution that would repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) privacy and data security regulations for ISPs and other telecommunications providers.[1] The joint resolution was passed pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to disapprove regulations passed by a federal agency.[2] The joint resolution now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration. If the joint resolution is approved by the House and signed by the President, then the privacy and data security regulations will be nullified.[3] Additionally, the FCC would be prevented from reissuing the rules unless authorized by a law enacted after the date of the joint resolution.[4]

The regulations, approved last fall by the FCC, established sweeping new rules to regulate how telecommunications carriers collect, use, and protect personal information of their customers. The comprehensive reform also imposed data security and breach notification requirements on ISPs and telecommunications carriers. The FCC had partially stayed the regulations on March 1, 2017, until it could act on pending petitions for reconsideration.[5] If the joint resolution is passed by Congress and signed by the President, further review of the petitions by the FCC would be unnecessary.

We will continue to monitor the status of the joint resolution and the FCC’s reconsideration of the privacy and data security regulations, and will provide additional updates in the coming weeks.

[1]   S.J. Res. 34, 115th Cong. (as approved by the Senate, Mar. 23, 2017).

[2]   Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 801-808.

[3]  Id. at §801(b)(1).

[4]  Id. at §801(b)(2).

[5]   Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services, Order Granting Stay Petition in Part, WC Docket No. 16-106, 31 FCC Rcd __ (2017), available at https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0301/FCC-17-19A1.pdf.

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