May 18, 2017

In this article, Jenner & Block Partner Nancy C. Libin argues that the state-specific broadband privacy rules that state legislatures recently have been proposing (and enacting) are unworkable.  Ms. Libin explains that state rules will only make it harder to protect online privacy, a matter that the FCC attempted to address last year.  She goes on to suggest that having one consistent set of federal rules, as opposed to allowing states to set their own rules, is the only way to both protect consumers’ privacy online and ensure that the US digital economy continues to thrive.  Ms. Libin then urges federal regulators to adopt a model that she believes offers the best approach to protecting broadband privacy: the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) flexible privacy framework, which she notes has successfully protected internet privacy for the past 20 years.  The FTC’s framework takes a flexible sensitivity-based, consumer-focused approach to privacy that allows the FTC to adapt to the evolving marketplace.  It is consistent with a series of Obama administration reports and expert studies that have endorsed the FTC’s approach and emphasized the importance of coordinating with the FTC.  Ms. Libin concludes by advising the groups working on this issue to support federal rules that adopt the FTC’s framework.