ISPs claim a privacy law would weaken online security

ISPs claim a privacy law would weaken online security

The country's biggest Internet service providers and advertising industry lobby groups are fighting to stop a proposed California law that would protect the privacy of broadband customers.

AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Frontier, Sprint, Verizon, and some broadband lobby groups urged California state senators to vote against the proposed law in a letter Tuesday. The bill would require Internet service providers to obtain customers' permission before they use, share, or sell the customers' Web browsing and application usage histories. California lawmakers could vote on the bill Friday of this week, essentially replicating federal rules that were blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump before they could be implemented. The text and status of the California bill, AB 375, are available here.

"This bill will create a cumbersome, uncertain, and vague regulation of Internet providers in California," Tuesday's letter to California senators said. "This single-state approach is antithetical to the forward-looking policies that have made California a world leader in the Internet Age."


For sale: Your private browsing history

Despite criticizing the "single-state approach," the ISPs also opposed the now-repealed Federal Communications Commission rule that the California bill is based on and which would have implemented the regulations nationwide.

The letter was also signed by advertiser groups such as the Association of National Advertisers and the Data & Marketing Association, as well as the Internet Association, which represents Internet companies such as Facebook and Google. The bill imposes requirements only on broadband providers, but website operators might be worried that it will be followed by new requirements on other industry members. Websites currently follow a less-strict regime in which they let visitors opt out of personalized advertising based on browsing history but don't have to get consumers' permission before using their browsing histories.

Disclosure: The Advance/Newhouse Partnership, which owns about 13 percent of Charter, is part of Advance Publications. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica. 

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