My short bio: We are privacy experts fighting for your digital rights in Washington, DC. Broadband privacy is at risk under the new administration. Ask us anything!

Chris Lewis, Vice President at Public Knowledge

Dallas Harris, Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst for the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel at Free Press

My Proof:

Edit: Thank you for asking such great questions during our AMA hour! We're wrapping up now, at 2:05pm EST, but we'll try to check in later today to see if we missed any.

Comments: 59 • Responses: 12  • Date: 

Frajer8 karma

What basic steps should everyone take for broadband privacy?

PublicKnowledgeDC7 karma

There are no guarantees, but my colleague from the ACLU has a link to best practices he will share.

But the first step should be to demand that Congress not repeal the current rules. Without them, ISPs don't have to tell you when your information has been breached. They also wouldn't have to ask your permission to share personal information like SS#, geolocation, and web browsing history.

JayACLU8 karma

Here's a piece we published with some good basic digital privacy practices:

In the end there's only so much the individual can do, however, which is why we need good protections, with teeth, and need to stop Congress from undoing those rules!

PublicKnowledgeDC3 karma

Thanks Jay! Great list!

ifthisthanwhat7 karma

Who is in charge of regulating broadband providers--Congress, the FCC, the FTC, something else? And why?

PublicKnowledgeDC7 karma

Right now, Congress placed the FCC in charge of broadband privacy, through Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC is the sector expert on communications networks, while the FTC has jurisdiction over broad privacy (read: not communications networks) like on websites and average companies. Most Americans have access to only one broadband provider. Maybe two. That's a local monopoly. Because there's little competition for broadband networks, protecting consumers in this specific market is so much more important. That's why the FCC created broadband rules last year. There were rules for telephones for decades, but the FCC wanted to make sure the broadband rules were applicable for the broadband age.

kikaihime4 karma

Who in government is responsible for creating online privacy rules to protect consumers? Don't we already have rules in place?

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

The FCC is the agency responsible for creating rules to protect your privacy online. They did pass rules in October to protect consumers, but right now those rules are about to be eliminated using the CRA. The rules have not even gone into effect yet. - DH

ifthisthanwhat4 karma

So is Congress the one responsible for the risk to the new rules?

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

YES. Congress introduced two resolutions this week to repeal the strong privacy rules. If the resolution to repeal the rules passes, the FCC cannot create similar rules in the future. Meanwhile, Congress has also introduced bills to gut the FTC of its power to protect consumers as well (See H.R. 5510 from last year). Learn more about the risk to the rules at

kikaihime3 karma

Thanks for answering. Does this mean we're completely unprotected right now? And what kind of data might that get from me other than websites I visit?

PublicKnowledgeDC3 karma

Yes! You are essentially unprotected right now. There are no rules of the road governing what ISPs are allowed to do with your data. ISPs know when you're online, how long you're online, every website you visit. Think about what they can learn about you just from that information alone. They know when you're home and when you're not. They can glean whether there are children in your house, which devices they are using, your political views, and any number of other things about you and your household. - DH

not-actually-meta3 karma

Where have the title II questions / bills ended up, and what impact could that have on privacy? Is it done, dead, or just in need of a revamp?

If not Title II, what's the most direct path toward an Internet connection (Of any speed) being considered a simple digital pipe, moving data from one place to many places and vice versa without being charged more for the digital equivalent of taking showers vs. washing clothes?

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

Members of Congress, like Chairman Thune have been openly critical of Title II and have made clear their intention to undo broadband reclassification (check out yesterday's FCC oversight hearing )

There's no actual bill yet in Congress but undoing reclassification would be a disaster for broadband privacy. Section 222 of the Communications Act (the privacy law) only applies to broadband providers because of Title II.

Title II is the direct and right path. It's incredibly important not to let those consumer protections be overturned in favor of letting broadband companies themselves dictate terms to consumers. thanks!

DidntMakeAThrowaway1 karma

What is the stance of the new FCC Chairman on broadband privacy? Does he want to eliminate the new rules completely? Does he just want a different version of the rules? Can we expect new rules any time soon if these rules get eliminated?

PublicKnowledgeDC1 karma

Chairman Pai has made it clear that he wants to weaken the privacy protections. He believes that ISPs need a break, instead of consumers needing more control over their data. The Chairman doesnt even want the FCC regulating broadband privacy. If these rules are eliminated using the CRA, the FCC is prohibited from making any rules that are similar, meaning there will be no protections at all! - DH

ifthisthanwhat1 karma

What's going to happen with the FCC under the Trump administration? We are down to 3 Commissioners. When can we expect to have 5 again? How will this affect policymaking?

PublicKnowledgeDC2 karma

Right now we are down to three Commissioner so the President will have to nominate new Commissioners. So far he has renominated Chairman Pai to a new term since his term ends this year. He pulled the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel recently, even though it is supported by Senate Democrats and he is required to nominate a non-republican.

The FCC can only have three of the five commissioners from the party of the President and tradition is that the President defers to the minority party's congressional leadership to select the two other FCC seats. It would be a HUGE departure from protocol if President Trump does not allow this.

We need a full commission to start tackling important consumer protection issues, so it is critical that the President start working with Senate Minority Leader Schumer to fill those empty seats!

samwise09120 karma

On a personal level, what are a few of your favorite films?

PublicKnowledgeDC1 karma

I like the Godfather... After all, we don't oppose Senator Flake, Senator Thune, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Senator McConnell, FCC Chairman Pai, and others trying to repeal the rules because we dislike them personally. "Its Just Business".

PublicKnowledgeDC1 karma

Hook, American History X - DH

[deleted]-1 karma


PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

That's not information we are experts on, however if you care that your Internet Service Provider might track and sell to other companies that you are visiting websites about strippers... you should be worried about the broadband privacy rules going away! Right now, ISPs can't give away that information without your permission, but Congress wants to repeal those rules. They introduced two resolutions this week to do so.