State bill on internet privacy would result in confusion

I saw the April 25 letter to the editor (“Federal rules still protect online privacy”) from Jonathan Spalter about online privacy and had to comment. Recently I testified in Olympia about congressional action on privacy protections. In spite of the headlines, the effort to roll back Obama administration rules did not change privacy protections for broadband users. Quite the contrary. Congress’ action ensured that protections remained consistent across the ecosystem avoiding confusion for consumers. However, that same confusion is threatening Washingtonians in recently introduced House Bill 2200. HB 2200 would only compound confusion over consumer privacy protections.

The facts remain that Internet users’ privacy protections are the same today as they were a year ago. There has been absolutely no loss of consumer privacy protections. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has long been the expert and chief cop on the beat. To that end, internet service providers (ISPs) have privacy policies that protect customer data consistent with the FTC’s battle-tested privacy framework, covering transparency, consumer choice, security, and data breach notifications.

If adopted, House Bill 2200 would create new restrictions that would apply to ISPs, but not content providers who have more access to consumer information. They would be allowed to continue to collect and utilize information as before. This arrangement would leave consumers unsure of what their protections are and when and where they are actually protected. Let’s avoid confusion and provide consumers consistent federal standard of privacy protections, not a state-by-state patchwork.

Tom Gurr

Pacific Technology Alliance


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