Consumer Broadband Privacy Now in the Hands of President Trump

On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives voted along party lines to disapprove an Obama-era rule prohibiting internet services providers from selling consumers’ data, following in the footsteps of the Senate who introduced S.J. Res 34 and voted its own disapproval on March 23.

Update March 29, 2017 5:30 p.m. EST:

The House was originally expected to vote on the measure at noon on Tuesday but happened instead near 6 p.m. EST with 215 “Yeas” votes to 205 “Nays. The 215 votes for disapproving the Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibiting ISPs from profiting by selling the private data of their consumers were votes by Republican representatives, with 15 GOP representatives voting against the measure along with 190 Democratic representatives.

Should the president sign S.J. Res. 34 into law, ISPs such as Spectrum, AT&T, Comcast and others will be free to cull consumer data for browsing habits, search histories, app usage and more to advertisers or anyone interested in having such information – on top of the fees those internet service providers already charge their customers.

The joint resolution, S.J. Res 34, having previously passed the Senate with 50 “Yeas” versus 48 “Nays” now goes to President Trump for his consideration of approval or veto of the measure. For anyone interested in doing so, thoughts on this broadband privacy issue can be directed to President Trump at whitehouse.gov through the “Legislation” link, then “Pending.” As of this writing S.J. Res. 34 is not yet listed in the Pending list but should be available there soon.

Status of S.J. Res 34 in President Trump’s Hands

The president has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to consider pending legislation sent to his office for his consideration. Even if the president doesn’t sign a measure within that time frame or return it to Congress with objections noted, the measure becomes law as long as Congress remains in session. If Congress goes into recess within that 10-day period and the president has not yet signed or returned the measure to Congress, the measure is null and void, referred to as a pocket veto. With the 115th Congress scheduled to recess April 10 through April 21, the pocket veto may come into play should March 28, 2017, be the first day S.J. Res. 34 goes to President Trump’s desk.

Congressional Review Act Use Prohibits Enacting A Once-Disapproved Rule or Regulation in the Future

If the broadband privacy rules are overturned by becoming law with the president’s signature, no such rule could again be made without an act of Congress directing it to be done through legislation. This is because the Congressional Review Act was used to enact this resolution. The Congressional Review Act forbids a once-disapproved rule or regulation using this method from being instituted in the future without an act of Congress.


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