Comcast Urges FCC To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Privacy, Net Neutrality

from the zero-accountability dept

If you're playing along at home, you might have noticed that the Trump administration has so far been little more than a glorified rubber stamp for the whims of major broadband mono/duopolies like Comcast. But while ISPs have had great luck convincing the federal government to weaken broadband deployment standards, protect uncompetitive business broadband monopolies, kill broadband privacy protections, defend price-gouging prison phone monopolies and axe net neutrality -- a growing number of states have proven less susceptible to Comcast lobbying charms.

When the government gutted broadband privacy rules earlier this year, more than thirty states rushed to create their own guidelines for privacy in the modern era. And while having disparate, disjointed state-by-state protections isn't always ideal, it wouldn't have occurred if ISP lobbyists hadn't successfully gutted modest federal protections. With federal lawmakers all but in their back pockets, ISPs like Verizon have shifted their focus to these uncooperative states. Like California, where ISP lobbyists scuttled a new EFF-supported broadband privacy law by claiming it would aid extremists, increase popups, and harm consumers.

But these major ISPs have since been lobbying the FCC, urging it to ban states from passing any consumer protections in the wake of the federal government's apathy-for-hire. Verizon has been telling the FCC that letting states impose their own consumer protections would be a disaster:

"Allowing every State and locality to chart its own course for regulating broadband is a recipe for disaster. It would impose localized and likely inconsistent burdens on an inherently interstate service, would drive up costs, and would frustrate federal efforts to encourage investment and deployment by restoring the free market that long characterized Internet access service."

Verizon lobbyists forget to mention that this is a problem they created when they took aim at popular federal protections. Verizon also forgets to mention that the only reason the FCC crafted privacy rules in the first place is because Verizon has repeatedly shown it couldn't self regulate, having been busted covertly modifying user packets to track users around the internet -- without informing anybody or providing working opt out tools. Verizon also really tap dances around its real goal here: zero oversight whatsoever for what historically has been one of the most anti-competitive companies in American industry.

But it's not just states passing new privacy rules ISP lobbyists and executives are worried about. They're also worried that as the federal government rubber stamps their request to kill net neutrality, that states will pass individualized net neutrality protections as well. As a result, FCC filings indicate that Comcast has also been meeting with the FCC (pdf) urging it to ban states from protecting consumers:

"(Comcast) emphasized that the Commission’s order in this proceeding should include a clear, affirmative ruling that expressly confirms the primacy of federal law with respect to BIAS as an interstate information service, and that preempts state and local efforts to regulate BIAS either directly or indirectly."

ISPs have repeatedly insisted that any attempts to stop states from passing ISP-written protectionist state laws is an assault on "states rights." When those same states actually try to do something that aids consumers, said rights don't receive a moment's consideration. Again, the surface narrative here is that all regulation of telecom duopolies is always uniformly bad, but the end goal here truly is to ensure little to no oversight of some of the least competitive, least liked companies in America (which is frankly truly saying something). Anybody that has witnessed Comcast's behavior and thinks zero regulatory oversight is good idea simply hasn't been paying attention.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re:

    "Wireless communications is one of those "exclusively federal" things."

    What is the origin and original intentions of said federal legislation?

    Frequencies, bandwidth, interference, obscenity ... any of these things?

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