DC Councilmember Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) introduced the “Broadband Internet Protection Act of 2017,” which would protect the privacy rights of District broadband internet customers. The introduction comes in response to the Trump administration’s and Congress’ repeal of similar Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations promulgated under the Obama administration. At least 21 states have filed measures responding to the federal repeal. The bill, designed to protect customer choice while giving broadband providers the flexibility necessary to continue operation and innovation, is structured around four key principles:
Transparency: carriers are to provide clear and accurate privacy notices to customers, informing them of what information is being collected and how it will be used and shared. Choice: customers must be empowered to decide how broadband providers use and share their personal data, including opt-in approval for sharing sensitive private information and opt-out approval for non-sensitive private information. Data Breach Security: in the event of a data breach, carriers must notify the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Attorney General. A prohibition on “take-it-or-leave-it” offerings: carriers will not be allowed to make broadband service contingent on customers surrendering their privacy rights.
“In light of the Federal Government’s lack of leadership on internet privacy – an issue at the heart of life in a digitally-connected era – it is time for bold action at the local level to protect the privacy rights of broadband consumers,” said Councilmember Todd. “While internet carriers provide a critical service to District residents, basic rules of the road are required to ensure that consumers have more control over their personal information.”