Local representatives to Congress were split in voting to undo Obama-era privacy regulations for internet service providers.
Following the Senate’s lead, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 215-205 Tuesday to eliminate the regulations for internet service providers that had been put in place by the Federal Communications Commission last October.
The regulations, which had been scheduled to go into effect later this year, would have required broadband providers such as Comcast and AT&T to receive customers’ permission before collecting data detailing their online activities.
Last week, the Senate voted 50-48 along party lines in favor of the measure, which is expected to be signed into law by President Trump.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who voted in favor of the bill, said the regulations were a hindrance to the free market because they limited efforts by internet service providers to participate in internet advertising.
“Last week, the Senate voted to end a ‘midnight’ Obama-era regulation that limited consumer choice and the free market,” Cassidy said in a statement Friday. “This bill allows you to make the choice as to how your information can be shared, while maintaining protections in place that maintain your privacy.”
Also voting for the measure was U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, who said the Obama-era regulations were too overreaching.
“With all due respect, the internet was not broken and did not need the Federal Government to come in and try to fix it,” Scalise, who represents the southern parts of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, said in a statement.
“The bottom line is that families expect and deserve to be protected online with a set of robust and uniform privacy protections,” he added. These rules simply do not live up to that standard. Rather than regulating based on the sensitivity of our data, these rules are applied unevenly, based on what type of company you are or what kind of technology you use. Consumers should feel assured online that there is a cop on the beat with a track record of success, not an agency with a history of regulatory overreach.”
These rules are harmful, inconsistent and should be repealed, he said.
One of the 14 House Republicans who crossed party lines to vote against the bill was U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, who represents the northern parts of Terrebone and Lafourche. He said, although not perfect, the Obama-era regulations provided at least a degree of online privacy.
“It’s a privacy issue when sensitive information about you, your bank account or kids can all be collected, marketed and sold or otherwise used,” Graves said in a statement Thursday. “The FCC rule wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it did provide some level of protection. Americans should have a say in the degree to which their personal information is being collected when they use the internet.”
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, who voted in favor of the bill, could not be reached for comment Friday.
— Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.