California Sides With Comcast, Votes To Kill Broadband Privacy Law Favored By EFF

from the who-needs-privacy-anyway dept

You’ll recall that earlier this year, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast successfully lobbied the GOP and Trump administration to kill consumer broadband privacy protections that were supposed to take effect last March. While big ISPs engaged in breathless hysteria about the “draconian” nature of the rules, the restrictions were quite modest — simply requiring ISPs be transparent about what user data gets collected and sold. They also made it more difficult for big ISPs to charge users significantly more money just to opt out of private data collection, an idea both AT&T and Comcast have already flirted with.

But in quickly axing the rules, big ISPs — and the regulators and lawmakers paid to love them — got a bit more than they bargained for. The ham-fisted rush to kill the protections quickly resulted in more than a dozen states passing a patchwork collection of new state laws aimed at protecting broadband consumers. Among the most notable was California Assemblyman Ed Chau’s AB 375 (pdf). The proposal largely mirrors the FCC’s proposal, though it took an even harder stance against ISPs looking to abuse the lack of competition to effectively make privacy a paid, premium option.

The law quickly received praise from the EFF, which argued that the law would be a good template for other states moving forward, lessening the chance for over-reaching, inconsistent, and poorly written state measures. But large ISPs, Facebook and Google lobbyists quickly got to work demonizing Chau’s proposal too, falsely claiming it would somehow weaken user security and magically increase pop ups all over the internet. These and other claims were recently picked apart in an EFF blog post:

“The prediction of “recurring pop-ups” is also false because if anything, the bill would “likely result in fewer pop-ups, not to mention fewer intrusive ads during your everyday browser experience,” Gillula wrote. “That?s because A.B. 375 will prevent Internet providers from using your data to sell ads they target to you without your consent?which means they?ll be less likely to insert ads into your Web browsing, like some Internet providers have done in the past..”

But the lobbying had its intended effect, and California lawmakers voted to kill the effort in a night vote over the weekend:

“It is extremely disappointing that the California legislature failed to restore broadband privacy rights for residents in this state in response to the Trump Administration and Congressional efforts to roll back consumer protection,? EFF Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon said. ?Californians will continue to be denied the legal right to say no to their cable or telephone company using their personal data for enhancing already high profits. Perhaps the legislature needs to spend more time talking to the 80% of voters that support the goal of A.B. 375 and less time with Comcast, AT&T, and Google’s lobbyists in Sacramento.?

While the proposal can be reintroduced next year, fighting upstream against the collective lobbying firepower of massive ISPs and Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google has proven no easy task. And there have been some comments from FCC Commissioners that they may try and use FCC authority to hamstring these efforts as well. You see, it’s a “states rights” issue if you try to prevent states from letting ISP lobbyists write protectionist law hamstringing competition, but those concerns magically disappear when states move to actually protect consumers from duopoly harm.

It’s worth re-iterating that ISPs spent years arguing consumers didn’t need added privacy protections because the sector would self-regulate. Of course, Verizon subsequently highlighted the folly of such claims when it was busted modifying user packets to track users around the internet without telling them. AT&T similarly did the same when it began charging users $400 to $550 more per year to opt out of behavioral advertising. And other, smaller cable companies like CableONE joined the fun when they proclaimed they’d be using consumer financial data to provide worse customer service to bad credit customers.

The origins of this aggressively bad behavior? The lack of competition in the broadband space. And with the Trump administration looking to effectively gut all oversight of one of the least-competitive and least-liked sectors in American industry, anybody thinking these privacy issues will magically resolve themselves (instead of say, just getting progressively worse) hasn’t been paying attention.

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Comments on “California Sides With Comcast, Votes To Kill Broadband Privacy Law Favored By EFF”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: conservative liberals

“but they never ever ever see the basic problem with using government to solve things.”

can’t ever be said enough.

“Every Nation gets the Government it Deserves!”
“You reap what you sow”
“You get back everything you give”
“Trading liberty for security, gets you neither liberty or security”
“Asking others to defend/protect you, makes you a piece of property to be bartered at the negotiation table instead of having a seat at the table”

Dems/Reps: Fucking shit up for the rest of us while saying they are not the same. Saying that they are not the same is like saying Nissan and Ford are not the same. Sure they plan, design, and manufacture things differently, but their end product is a vehicle designed to move asses from point A to point B.

Governments end product is to own your ass! Now put it back up into the air and enjoy your poundings you pro regulation zealots! THIS IS WHAT YOU ASKED FOR! I have told you far too many times this is what you are going to get! NO REPRESENTATION from your representatives!

How many times and ways can it be said? You are only hurting yourself!

Free-Market or be slaves! Those who truly understand… knows there is very little wiggle room between the two.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 conservative liberals

great, another clueless tard. The regulations are not working. Why are you able to recognize this. You are a poster child for going down on a sinking ship arranging deck chairs.

Meanwhile I still get robocalls for fucking auto warranties. Your regulatory zealotry is making it worse and you are too stupid to even understand why or how! So you doubled and now triple down on the stupid!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 conservative liberals

I would say that is your job. So stop bitching about it, you asked for this. I warned you loonies a long time ago you are going to LOSE the NN fight becuase you don’t even understand it. Your solution to your fears is to directly bring about that which you fear.

You made your bed, lay in it sucker!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The problem is that both sides have this dead wrong.

regulation is not the cure
neither is complete surrender to big telecom.

Free-Market is the only possible path forward if you want real freedom.

Big Business is anti-free market
Regulation is anti-free market

the pro-regulation lobby falsely advances the notion that free-market will only result in monopoly, which is not true. Monopoly in a free market is only a “potential” not a definite. Under regulation Monopoly is far more likely because it is easier to regulation a single monolithic entity vs multiple smaller ones. This creates more drivers for monopoly to occur. In short the usual solution for many on the left is to ignorantly and directly bring about which they claimed fear of occurring. The usual solution for many on the right is to ignorantly believe that zero controls on a business can be countered by natural market forces… and they cannot because people are lazy and do not wish to fight them.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“regulation is not the cure
neither is complete surrender to big telecom.”

“Free-Market is the only possible path forward if you want real freedom.”

Yeah, let them all fuse into MaBell again and charge as much as they want because nobody else has the financial incentive to enter the market neither the regulation to prevent them from making the extra buck by selling their customers to the devil.

But not to be unfair, what’s your proposal to make free-market magically work after years of a hands-free approach?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That attitude is what I do not understand about you folks.

If it’s not through the lens of “government and regulation” it is obviously a “magical” thing of fairy tails and pixie fart dust.

Get over it. The only economic model we should have is one that allows for the most liberty for the consumer.

this means enough free-market to keep government from being able to directly or indirectly pick and choose winners and loser, and just enough regulation to keep capitalists from taking over the free-market and turning it into a monopoly.

Capitalism is required for free market to work, but the problem is that capitalism hates free market and will do everything it can to remove it in favor of oligarchy.

Call it what you like, but people like to be in charge and in control. We need laws and regulations to prevent that as much as reasonably possible.

This means laws that are only anti-monopoly or anti-trust, really anti anti-free-market laws. Anything that threatens a free-market should be illegal. No monopolies of any kind. Businesses can create only 1 contract that must be the exact same for all customers be it government, another business, or just a consumer. No more umbrella companies and hold companies. You cannot own more than 1 business at a time, but you can invest in as many as you like, but you cannot invest in more than 1 business in the same or adjacent markets. This means you can invest in Walmart, then invest in Verizon, but cannot invest in Target & Walmart, or cannot invest in Verizon & Netflix because they are in adjacent markets.

There are very easy ways for everyone to make money and to prevent people like Bill Gates, Soros, Murdoch, Slim, you get the idea.

The other option is to just flat out limit income to like .001% of the GDP per year max.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“This means laws that are only anti-monopoly or anti-trust, really anti anti-free-market laws. Anything that threatens a free-market should be illegal. No monopolies of any kind. Businesses can create only 1 contract that must be the exact same for all customers be it government, another business, or just a consumer.”

So you want to enable free-market by placing anti-trust regulations, forbidding (via regulations) that monopolies form and overall use a deregulated regulation approach. No, seriously, how would you prevent monopolies and whatever else sans regulation? I’m really interested in how you’ll protect workers from abuse, monopolies from forming and overall stuff that will happen naturally (as very easily explained by that nice Monopoly game) without regulations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

When you clear your cognitive dissonance we can proceed.

Regulation = Law
Being anti-monopoly and anti-trust regulation ONLY is not the same as “without regulation” or even anti-regulation in reality, but it does not seem to keep you liars from willfully making that claim… repeatedly I might add.

can you one trick ponies get a new act?

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Ooooh, now we have something. If you favor even those regulations then you can’t have your free-market utopia. Because the market will be healthy specifically because of the regulation you say you don’t like.

You are the one that needs some deep cleaning. The regulation being discussed is precisely what is needed to keep the ISPs in their best behavior. You can’t simply leave basic infrastructure to develop by itself. You need to force their hand into going for rural and other areas that money says not profitable and to punish behavior thats profitable but screws the customer. Even if you do consider more competitive areas that can be somewhat disrupted with ease you’d still need to block more egregious behavior (just check the online advertising businesses). The other alternative is to let the government build the infrastructure… Which I believe we will both agree should be avoided almost like the plague. Almost.

So, yeah, keep being clueless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Some devs somewhere should come up with an economy video game where you can be an anarchist and get rid of all laws … or regulate the shit outta everything …. or anything in between.

It could even let you choose some of the various models out there. Then see what happens. Not sure how it would take to get a Paint Chip mod.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not the tired old “both sides” trope again.

I would imagine there are many more than just two sides to this issue, but wth do I know.

News Flash: There is no cure.
Breaking News: There is no such thing as a free market

Seems everything is right/left in your world.
Meanwhile, the real world is somewhere in between.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Idiots like you should avoid talking with people.
Let’s break down why this is the case here.

#1. “Not the tired old “both sides” trope again.”
Since you still don’t “get it” like every other lesson about things, it has to be repeated until you do.

#2. “News Flash: There is no cure.”
Well then… lets all just pack our bags and GTFO right? There is a cure, it is just hard to achieve because of people like you. Stop being part of the problem and help us few become more to work towards the solution.

#3. “Breaking News: There is no such thing as a free market”
There is no free market right now, no, but there is such a thing.

#4. “Seems everything is right/left in your world.”
Negative, that is just a by-product of discussing the two big political parties in America. I dislike both parties because of this problem right here, people like you are too stupid & ignorant to evaluate a candidate without knowing which party they are from. Since I do not like either of the, I am clearly part not part of them despite your knee jerk asinine reaction implying that I am.

#5. “Meanwhile, the real world is somewhere in between.”
Are any of those “somewhere in between”‘s operating with any power? How about we discuss the major players here? Only idiots like you feel the need to go off and talk about all other “insignificant” players like it means something.

Is it your mission in life to be as stupid as you possibly can while trying to sound smarter than the rest? Here is a status report sir/ma’am/whatever you are. You are failing and dragging others down with you.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“There is no free market right now, no, but there is such a thing.”

Please, entertain us how this magical free market will materialize without the proven, historic consequence of huge monopolies raising and starting to be abusive. I am very interested in understanding how your regulations-free regulated market to avoid such things would work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

To discuss, you must first rid yourself of your ignorance… willingly.

Is having a monopoly a free-market? No it is not a free-market, it is something else, which is probably why they call it a monopoly instead of a free market. Anything can become anything with the proper motivations.

Your problem is that you fail to understand those motivations. The current regulatory mindset has a higher risk of producing all the evils you are afraid that a free-market will produce. But because you cannot accept being wrong, you double and triple down on the stupid.

You lost, and the worst part about all of this is that you didn’t lose to the likes of me, you lost to yourself. big Business tricked you into turning your own self into a bitch for them, and you still have not figured it out!

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Dude, free market CREATES monopolies as much as bad regulations do. Your UTOPIC vision of free market fails in the same way capitalism and socialism fail in practice even though they are great on paper: they IGNORE the human factor. Did you know Nestle buys competitors just to shut them down and when they do they even break industrial equipment beyond repairing possibilities to prevent them from growing? Did you know big market chains force local markets out of business by maintaining low prices artificially just because they can sustain the losses? This is what free market produces in practice, big players emerge and consolidate being extremely predatory. And this is why you need to regulate it.

This is also why we have some good and some bad regulation out there. Because there are bad/clueless humans legislating. What we need to do is to follow the process and help to prevent the poisoning of it somehow. Will it be successful? Not always. Will it solve all the woes? Not always. Will it be abused by strong players? Absolutely. But going without is not a viable option. Applying regulations without overdoing it and in a sensible manner is the path we have, absent ethics in free-market (which by itself would be some sort of regulation, ironically).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m the idiot … ok, then tell me the name of the medical condition that I suffer from.

I don’t “get it” .. yeah, that must be it.
This is used whenever someone disagrees with you and you’ve got nothing.

There is no cure for human stupidity and yet I am supposed to fix it – and it is my fault for not fixing it – got it.

Wow – so we agree on something, there is no free market. And yet I am still an idiot, must’ve been blind luck I got that one correct.

Wow, you seem to think you know a lot about me. How did you come across all this info? I imagine that you just pull this outta yer ass, but I could be wrong – what say you?

So, anyone who is not extremely radicalized to the left or right is, as you put it an idiot or insignificant. Interesting, considering that roughly 40% of voters are independent – ie: not affiliated with any party. I suppose you could say they are insignificant because no one listens to them.

So, do you have anything of substance to discuss or are insults all you’ve got?

Anonymous Coward says:

There are good sides to this. This degrading of my privacy has led me to educate myself in how to protect my privacy. I used to think that the regulation would protect me, but it’s obvious that regulation is not working. While these corporations lobby against consumer protections, they are flat out ignoring the very regulation they are trying to destroy. I’ve done some research and deployed my own counter measures in an effort to take control from the Politicians and Corporations for myself. VPN on the router, blocking and add prevention on my browsers, as well as other protections. I feel empowered by taking ownership of my own privacy. Sometimes I get a “turn off your add blocker”, maybe I will, or maybe I wont, but either way I will decide what level of privacy I get not the Govt, and definitely not the Corps.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all regulation is bad. I enjoy clean drinking water and food. I like my air free of pollution and my waterways void of toxins. I’m just not sure this is one of those “essential to life” concerns that make regulation clear cut and easy to scientifically justify. There seems to be a lot of “grey area” in regulating communication. Enough that if I am able to decide my own level of “protection” vrs a Government mandate, then I believe I should take responsibility and do so.

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