FCC's Halt Of Privacy Rule Signals Net Neutrality Reversal

March 2, 2017Media Mention

Timothy Toohey was quoted in a Law360 article, March 2, 2017, discussing the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to prevent certain elements of privacy regulations from taking effect on broadband providers and signaling a potential reversal of current Net Neutrality rules.

The vote, held March 1st, halted the implementation of a data security rule that current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said was inconsistent with FTC privacy standards.

According to the article, the decision followed petitions from the industry for the commission to reconsider the privacy rules and hold off on implementing them.  A key point of contention is whether the FCC’s vote leaves a regulatory gap given questions over the FTC’s jurisdiction.

Toohey, commenting on the vote, said that although the move isn’t surprising, it may create skepticism with EU countries about whether privacy concerns are being taken seriously amid the trans-Atlantic Privacy Shield data transfer agreement. It also isn’t so simple to create mirrored regulations at the FCC and FTC given their different frameworks, underscoring the complexity of the various agency jurisdictions on privacy protections that the public broadly supports.

“I do think some of the concerns about inconsistent regulation were sensible concerns, so if something does come about where there really is an attempt to make things consistent, that will be fine, I think,” he said. “But the optics of it are a little hard, are a little troublesome to people, and even I think to me they’re a little troublesome because you’re taking away a consumer protection.”