Texas Legislative Session – Privacy Issues

| March 12, 2019 | |

Cable companies want to ensure that you and your personal data are safe while online. Customer privacy is one of the primary issues the Texas Cable Association is working on with lawmakers and interested stakeholders during the ongoing Texas legislative session. Two bills have been filed in the Texas House of Representatives. Privacy is a priority to the cable industry because we are the leading broadband provider, with about two-thirds of all high-speed internet subscribers, and because we have made a commitment to our customers to protect their data.

The issue of privacy has come to the forefront on both the state and federal levels as more Americans than ever are on the internet – 77 percent of Americans connect to the internet every day, and, in each household, consumers connect nearly 15 devices to the internet. 

On the state level, the Texas Cable Association is monitoring two bills that relate to the privacy of a consumer’s personal identifying information collected by certain businesses: HB 4390 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) and HB 4518 by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio).

At the federal level, hearings on data privacy were held by Senate and House committees in late February. The chair of the Senate Commerce Committee has said he hopes to have federal privacy bill to the president in 2019. Among the issues to be settled is whether the federal law will permit states to pass their own rules and how far regulators should go to restrict companies’ use of data.

Cable companies already are subject to strict federal regulations on what they can do with your data. In fact, the data collected by multichannel video programming distributors, including cable, has been called “among the most well-protected data sets in American business.

Personal information collected by cable companies is subject to privacy regulations and oversight under the Cable Act, which includes prohibitions on disclosure without prior consent from the customer. In addition, internet service providers – including cable companies – each have a privacy policy that offers consumers choice as to how their data is used. 

Members of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association (an industry trade group to which the Texas Cable Association and individual cable companies belong) and nearly every U.S. internet service provider have reiterated their commitment to privacy principles. These principles are based on the FTC’s successful privacy regime, which for over 20 years applied to all internet companies and still applies to the world’s largest data collectors.

Charter Communications recently stated its support for privacy protections that put consumers first:

“In order to have confidence in their online activities, consumers need to trust that the law gives them the same privacy and security protections regardless of which Internet entity (e.g., search engine, social media site, ISP, advertising company, data broker, etc.) has access to their data or where they go on the Internet. National uniformity is also critical so that consumers know that privacy protections do not depend on where they live, work or travel.”

Read Charter’s full statement and view an accompanying video.

The cable industry’s support of protective proposals is nothing new. In April 2018, NCTA’s Powell stated:

“A technology-neutral, federal framework of online consumer protection is a first step to restoring America’s faith in our digital future. When consumers go online, they shouldn’t have to think about what state they are in, and they shouldn’t need an engineering or law degree to understand what privacy requirements apply to different online services and what kind of entity may be engaged in blocking or throttling. They want to know that their personal data is protected, that their choices as consumers are respected, and that practices resulting in unfair discrimination or otherwise violating the spirit of internet openness will be punished swiftly.”

Learn more about the cable industry’s commitment to customer privacy, as outlined by NCTA.

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