A majority of Americans from both parties objected to a law passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in April that gives internet service providers the go-ahead to collect and sell users’ browsing history without users’ consent. This week, Seattle became the first municipality in the country to fight that rollback, in effect restoring ISP privacy rules for city residents under municipal code.
The city’s Cable Customer Bill of Rights, dating back to 1999, gives the city authority to set privacy standards over cable providers. In a new rule added on Wednesday on the urging of Mayor Ed Murray, cable internet providers must obtain opt-in consent from users before collecting their web-browsing history or other internet usage data, including details on a person’s health and finances.
Seattle’s authority extends to three providers—Comcast, CenturyLink, and Wave—but not to wireless providers. And like the rules proposed by the FCC, the restriction does not apply to internet platforms like Google and Facebook. The local ISPs have until Sept. 30 to comply by the rule; if they violate it, consumers have the right to seek civil action, and the city can also seek penalties.
Seattle’s not the only government taking action against the privacy rule rollback: A bill that would provide similar privacy protections for state residents passed the lower body of the Washington legislature this week. And a number of other states and municipalities, including New York and Minnesota, are exploring ways of protecting their residents’ ISP data.