The Right to Privacy and the Congressional Disapproval Procedure

The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 801-808, became law in 1996, and includes the Congressional Disapproval Procedure, 5 U.S.C. § 802. This statute gives Congress the power to rescind a regulation via a joint resolution for up to 60 days after promulgation. Prior to the Trump administration, Congress had used this procedure only once (Pub. L. No. 107-5, 115 Stat. 7 (Mar. 20, 2001) rescinded a Dept. of Labor ergonomics rule). Under the Trump administration, the Republican-majority Congress has used this procedure to rescind 14 regulations affecting students, teachers, the environment, workers, investors, and your right to privacy.

This language is required in the public law:

That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the [agency] relating to [final rule], and such rule shall have no force or effect.

The rules rescinded so far are:

The Federal Communications Commission published its final rule “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services” on Dec. 2, 2016. This rule was scheduled to take effect in 2017. The FCC

based [this rule] on public comments applying the privacy requirements of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to broadband Internet access service (BIAS) and other telecommunications services. In adopting these rules the Commission implements the statutory requirement that telecommunications carriers protect the confidentiality of customer proprietary information. The privacy framework in these rules focuses on transparency, choice, and data security, and provides heightened protection for sensitive customer information, consistent with customer expectations.

However, Congress rescinded this rule on Apr. 3, 2017, via Pub. L. No. 115-22, 131 Stat 88, resolving that

Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services’ (81 Fed. Reg. 87274 (December 2, 2016)), and such rule shall have no force or effect.

What does this mean? Your internet service provider can track and sell your private information including your browsing habits without your permission. Consequently, it is more important than ever to check your privacy settings and consider using, at a minimum, the private browsing option provided by the major search engines. Even better is to install and use a browser that does not collect or share your personal information. These include

  • DuckDuckGo (“Our privacy policy is simple: we don’t collect or share any of your personal information.)
  • Startpage (Removes identifying information from your search query and submits it to Google.)
  • Tor Browser (the most private of all, but it does slow down your computer).
Display of books on privacy.


Stop by and see the display of books near the entrance to the Library relevant to the right of privacy. Thanks to Alyson Carney for assembling this timely display.


Additional reading:

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