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New FCC chief moves to halt privacy rules

Robin Groulx / Axios

In a move to limit the impact of the FCC's sweeping net neutrality rules, Chairman Ajit Pai is pausing part of the broadband privacy rules that were supposed to go into effect next week.

The gritty details:

  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has asked the commission to stay, or prevent from going into effect, a section of the rules that requires carriers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from taking "reasonable measures to protect" customer data, such as web search history, according to an FCC spokesperson.
  • Those data security requirements were set to take effect on March 2.

Why this matters: It's another sign that Pai intends to aggressively roll back the rules put in place by his predecessor, Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler. The commission noted in a statement that Pai "has advocated returning to a technology-neutral privacy framework for the online world and harmonizing the FCC's privacy rules for broadband providers with the FTC's standards for others in the digital economy" — a central argument by Republicans and industry groups.

What's next: If commissioners don't vote on the stay before March 2, the agency can stay the requirements at the staff level, according to a statement from the commission. This is a test for Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who'll likely be the lone dissenting vote on a stay — but Pai is signaling that he'll move forward with or without her vote.