Federal Communications Commissioner and South Carolina native Mignon Clyburn condemned the House of Representatives’ decision to overturn internet privacy regulations introduced under former President Barack Obama, saying it “harms consumers.”
A majority of House Republicans voted 215-205 to approve legislation to remove rules that would prevent telecommunications and internet service providers, such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, from gathering and profiting from users’ private information.
That follows a Senate vote along party lines last week to overturn rules originally adopted late October 2016. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for congressional review. A White House statement today said Trump was in favor of passing the legislation.
In a joint statement with Federal Trade Commissioner Terrell McSweeny following the Senate vote, Clyburn said the legislation would hamper future efforts by the FCC protect online privacy. She refered to the statement again after the House passed the legislation.
“It also creates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements,” Clyburn and McSweeny said. “This is the antithesis of putting #ConsumersFirst.”
Clyburn has been a proponent of net neutrality, internet accessibility for disabled citizens and wider broadband access for low-income and rural communities.
Republicans in favor of overturning the rules argued the FCC has overstepped its regulatory authority and that the rules stymie competition.
Democrats have argued that Americans’ increasing reliance on technology puts private data at higher risk.
In a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed the concerns raised by Clyburn and McSweeny.
“If the Republicans allowed to do this, we have surrendered all thoughts of privacy for the American people,” Pelosi said. “Privacy is a value that the American people treasure. It’s about their dignity. We cannot allow the Republicans to sell the dignity of the American people.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to properly refer to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn by her surname on second and subsequent references.