Bills to bar Internet regulation, limit data collection introduced
WASHINGTON, D.C.–A House bill designed to prevent attempts to regulate the Internet was part of a package of privacy measures introduced in late July.
The Internet Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Rick White (R- Wash.) and sponsored by six House members, would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the states from regulating Internet information services, which provide access to the Internet, and interactive computer services on the Internet. Included in the bill are prohibitions against regulating the rates charged to the customers of Internet information services, as well as against imposing federally-mandated standards on the industry.
Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), one of the six co-sponsors, said in a press release that a “free trade zone in cyberspace” is needed, and that government regulation is the quickest way to kill the Internet.
The Data Privacy Act of 1997, another of the trio of privacy- related bills, “requires the interactive computer service industry to develop voluntary guidelines” for notifying users when collecting personal information.
The act also requires the industry to provide a way for users to see who is receiving such information, and prohibits release of the information without consent.
In addition, parental permission will be necessary before information from children can be solicited over the Internet.
Under the bill, users must be able to “opt out” of providing and disclosing personal information.
The third privacy bill would prohibit the modification of scanners in order to intercept cellular phone conversations. Current law prevents the manufacturing of cellular frequency scanners, but other types of scanners can easily be reconfigured into cellular eavesdropping devices.
“What I am proposing today is a way to assure the Internet’s continued, uninterrupted growth, while protecting the privacy of on- line consumers and cellular telephone users nationwide,” said Tauzin of the bills. (H.R. 2372; H.R. 2368; H.R. 2369)