Assemblymember Chau Introduces Legislation to Give Broadband Internet Customers More Control Over Their Personal Information

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sacramento — Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) was joined today by numerous consumer advocacy groups and technology experts to unveil Assembly Bill (AB) 375, the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, which will ensure that consumers enjoy choice, transparency and security in the treatment of their personal information when accessing the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

The legislation responds to the April 2017 repeal by Congress and the Trump Administration of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that would have given broadband Internet customers increased control over their personal information. As the portal to the internet, Broadband ISPs have a unique ability to know everything about a consumer’s online activities.

“The idea that a person should have some say about how their Internet Service Provider can use, share or sell their personal information is not a controversial question for everyday consumers – it is common sense,” said Assemblymember Chau, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. “Congress and the Administration went against the will of the vast majority of Americans when they revoked the FCC’s own privacy rules in April, but California is going to restore what Washington stripped away.”

On October 27, 2016, the FCC adopted rules titled "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services" (FCC-16-148). The FCC at the time described the rules as giving "consumers the tools they need to choose how their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use and share their personal data. Building on widely accepted privacy principles, the rules require[d] that ISPs provide their customers with meaningful choice and keep customer data secure while giving ISPs the flexibility they need to continue to innovate."

However, before the FCC internet privacy rules went into effect, Congress and the Trump Administration approved a measure (Senate Joint Resolution 34) that repealed the privacy rules adopted by the FCC. A public opinion poll conducted after Congress acted found that 80% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans wanted the President to veto the bill and allow the FCC privacy rules to take effect.

AB 375 broadly protects customer personally identifiable information through an opt-in consent requirement for the use, sale, and sharing of personal information beyond service delivery and other necessary functions. It also prohibits pay-for-privacy practices and penalties for customers who do not consent to unnecessary uses, and requires providers to protect customer information through reasonable security procedures and practices. The bill also allows ISPs freedom to use customer information in open and appropriate ways.

“AB 375 will give consumers far more control over how ISPs use and share their personal information, while still leaving flexibility for ISPs to operate and ensuring that information is securely protected. Californians deserve no less,” concluded Assemblymember Chau.

What they’re saying:

A diverse coalition of more than 25 civil rights, consumer protection, privacy, technology, and non-profit organizations support AB 375, including those who shared statements below:

“Californians have a fundamental right to control their personal information. AB 375 is a commonsense step to further cement California’s constitutional guarantee and protect our privacy rights in the digital age. AB 375 will help make sure that no Californians have to choose between basic access to the internet and their privacy rights.”

  • Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California

"We support the proposed California Broadband Internet Privacy Act (AB 375) because personal privacy is essential for open networks to support freedom of information and expression. Citizens must have the opportunity to make informed choices about how their personal communications are monitored and their online information is gathered, stored and shared. Unwanted surveillance for commercial gain has an immediate chilling effect on local voices and harms many aspects of modern life - health, public safety, education, commerce and civic engagement all suffer when our freedom of information and expression is suppressed.”

  • Sean Taketa McLaughlin, Executive Director, Access Humboldt

“The FCC’s adoption of broadband privacy rules was a major victory for civil rights, and the rights of all users online. With the recent reversal of these rules by the U.S. Congress, California residents are now left unprotected from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that have unprecedented access to everything individuals do online and all of our personal information. Now more than ever, we need powerful protections for Internet users in California and for those communities most vulnerable to data collection and predatory schemes.”

  • Brandi Collins, Senior Campaign Director, Color Of Change

"Internet service providers should ask our permission first before snooping on us. AB 375 will reverse the harm Congress did when it stripped us of our online privacy rights.”

  • Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California

"Common Sense applauds Assemblyman Chau for proposing strong new protections for the privacy of California children and families in their online lives, including the right for California broadband customers to make informed choices about the use and sharing of their and their kids’ online information. Common Sense has long advocated for increased online privacy protections at home and in school, by all players in the internet ecosystem, and this proposal is a critical step in the right direction."

  • Craig Cheslog, Vice President, Common Sense Kids Action

"The California Broadband Internet Privacy Act restores the consumer privacy rights Congress took away earlier this year. The bill ensures that California customers of companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon are not forced to pay extra fees to keep their personal information private from third parties eager to monetize their online activity. EFF fully supports Chairman Chau's efforts and urge the state legislature to pass this bill into law this year."

  • Ernesto Omar Falcon, Legislative Counsel, Electronic Frontier Foundation

CONTACT: Edmundo Cuevas, Office: (916) 319-2049, Email: Edmundo.Cuevas@asm.ca.gov