Chairman Pai to Delay Implementation of Data Security Rule, Criticizes Wheeler Privacy Order


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai lodged his first attack against his predecessor’s signature privacy order today, calling for a stay of data security rules from the order scheduled to come into effect on March 2nd.

The data security rule would have required internet service providers (ISPs), traditional telecommunications service providers, and interconnected VoIP providers to take reasonable measures to protect certain customer information from unauthorized use, disclosure, or access.

As a Commissioner, Pai voted against the FCC’s privacy rules back in October, making clear his position that, “were it up to me, the FCC would have chosen a different path—one far less prescriptive and one consistent with two decades of privacy law and practice.”

Pai has long viewed the FCC’s privacy rules as inconsistent with existing privacy standards enforced by the FTC, because they create asymmetric burdens for ISPs that are not shared by other internet ecosystem players like Google or Facebook.  Former Chairman Wheeler disagreed with that view, arguing instead that ISPs have unique visibility into a customer’s browsing history, and that consumers can more easily change the websites they visit than change their ISP.

Pai is determined to get the last word, as was clear in today’s announcement from the FCC.  “Unfortunately, one of the previous administration’s privacy rules that is scheduled to take effect on March 2 is not consistent with the FTC’s privacy standards,” the announcement said.

Companies should be aware that this proposed stay does not alleviate their other obligations under the FCC privacy order, or, more generally, their obligation to protect customer data.  If you have any questions about the impact of this stay on your business, or if you have any questions about the new FCC privacy rules, please contact Linda McReynolds, CIPP/US, at, or 703-714-1318, or Alexander Schneider, at, or 703-714-1328.

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