Telecom lobbyists have successfully stalled or killed at least 70 state-level consumer privacy bills since 2017.
In March 2017, Congress voted to overturn a yet-to-take-effect Obama-era FCC regulation requiring ISPs to get permission from customers before collecting their data and selling it to advertisers.
Since the repeal, about half of the country’s states chose began crafting their own legislation to restore the FCC’s rules within their borders. Washington, DC is the latest example, and the National Conference of State Legislatures shows close to 70 similar bills on state dockets this year. So far, not a single one has passed.
The reason, according to online-privacy experts, is the lobbying muscle of the telecom and internet industries. “Companies have a lot more resources to send in lobbyists to argue against these bills,” said Natasha Duarte, policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Especially when were talking about state legislatures, things move really quickly.”
Only two states, Nevada and Minnesota, currently enforce privacy requirements on ISPs, according to Eric Null, policy counsel at the Open Technology Institute. But, Null says, those regulations actually predate Congress’s repeal of the FCC rule.