California Assemblyman Chau Introduces Legislation to Give Internet Users More Control over Personal Information

SACRAMENTO — California State Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) was joined Monday by numerous consumer advocacy groups and technology experts to unveil Assembly Bill (AB) 375, the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, which will ensure that consumers enjoy choice, transparency and security in the treatment of their personal information when accessing the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Chau’s office announced that the legislation responds to the April 2017 repeal by Congress and the Trump Administration of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that would have given broadband Internet customers increased control over their personal information. As the portal to the internet, Broadband ISPs have a unique ability to know everything about a consumer’s online activities.

 “The idea that a person should have some say about how their Internet Service Provider can use, share or sell their personal information is not a controversial question for everyday consumers – it is common sense,” said Assemblymember Chau, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. 

“Congress and the Administration went against the will of the vast majority of Americans when they revoked the FCC’s own privacy rules in April, but California is going to restore what Washington stripped away.”

 On October 27, 2016, the FCC adopted rules titled “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services” (FCC-16-148). The FCC at the time described the rules as giving “consumers the tools they need to choose how their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use and share their personal data. Building on widely accepted privacy principles, the rules require[d] that ISPs provide their customers with meaningful choice and keep customer data secure while giving ISPs the flexibility they need to continue to innovate.”

However, before the FCC internet privacy rules went into effect, Congress and the Trump Administration approved a measure (Senate Joint Resolution 34) that repealed the privacy rules adopted by the FCC.  A public opinion poll conducted after Congress acted found that 80% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans wanted the President to veto the bill and allow the FCC privacy rules to take effect.

 AB 375 broadly protects customer personally identifiable information through an opt-in consent requirement for the use, sale, and sharing of personal information beyond service delivery and other necessary functions. It also prohibits pay-for-privacy practices and penalties for customers who do not consent to unnecessary uses, and requires providers to protect customer information through reasonable security procedures and practices. The bill also allows ISPs  freedom to use customer information in open and appropriate ways.

“AB 375 will give consumers far more control over how ISPs use and share their personal information, while still leaving flexibility for ISPs to operate and ensuring that information is securely protected. Californians deserve no less,” concluded Assemblymember Chau.

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