Pelosi Floor Remarks in Opposition to GOP Measure to Eliminate Internet Privacy

Mar 28, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Ashley Etienne/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the House floor, urging a ‘no’ vote on S.J. Res. 34, a Republican measure to eliminate Americans’ internet privacy, which passed the House 215-205.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him on behalf of my five children and my nine grandchildren and everyone I know – as a matter of fact, for being a champion for privacy for the American people.  Thank you, Mr. Doyle, for your leadership.  Thank you, Mr. Pallone, for yours, and Congresswoman Eshoo has been a champion on this issue as well.  

“Mr. Speaker, Americans turn to the internet for so many things these days – buying books, filing taxes, learning about why they are feeling sick.  The Republicans want this information to be sold without your permission.  The websites you visit, the apps you use, your search history, the content of your emails, your health and financial data.  

“Overwhelmingly, the American people do not agree with the Republicans that this information should be sold, and it certainly should not be sold without your permission.  Our broadband providers know deeply personal information about us and our families – where we are, what we want, what we're looking for, what information we want to know, every site we visit and more.  They can even track us – our broadband providers can even track us when we are surfing in a private browsing mode.  

“Americans' private browser history should not be up for sale, yet Republicans are bringing S.J. Resolution 34 to the floor to allow internet service providers – excuse me, Mr. Speaker – to profit, to profit.  This is about profit from America’s most intimate, personal information without our knowledge or our consent.  Republicans' use of the Congressional Review Act will do permanent damage to the FCC to keep America’s personal information safe.  

“As the FCC Commissioner Clyburn and FTC Commissioner McSweeney warned, this legislation will frustrate the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission's future efforts to protect the privacy of voice and broadband customers. 

“It's important for our constituents to know that if the Republicans had a problem with this particular policy, they might tweak it and say we don't like it this way or that in regular legislation so that we could have a debate on it.  It could go back to the Federal Communications Commission, they could revise it and send it back if it were a legitimate presentation of concerns. But it's not about a legitimate presentation of concerns.  It's about increasing profits at the expense of the privacy of the American people.  

“So as I say, the Republicans' use of the Congressional Review Act does permanent damage and also damages the FCC's ability to keep Americans’ personal information safe. 

“With this measure, Republicans would destroy Americans’ right to privacy on the internet.  We made that clear, and forbid any effort to keep your personal information safe.  Republicans are bending over backwards, think of it, think of the context of all this: since Gerald Ford was President, every candidate for President, every nominee of the major party, every candidate for President of the United States, Democratic and Republican, released their income tax returns out of respect for the American people, out of respect for the American people. 

“Week in and week out, in fact, sometimes day in and day out in committee as well as on the floor, the Republicans have kept their President's income tax returns private when the public has the right to know that, that the public has always known that about every President since Gerald Ford.  In fact, since Richard Nixon, although in his case it wasn't voluntary.

“So while they're hiding President Trump's tax returns, some discreet piece of information that the public has a right to know – they're selling your most personal, selling your most personal and sensitive information – again, your browsing history, your children's location, everything, to anyone with the money to buy it.  Incognito tabs or private browsing modes will not protect you from the internet service providers watching and selling – as Mr. Capuano pointed out: watching and selling. 

“Republicans have picked the week after Russian spies were caught hacking into a half a billion email accounts to open the floodgates, overturning the requirement that internet service providers keep their sensitive data secured from cybercriminals.  The American people deserve to be able to insist that intimate details and information about their browser history be kept private and secure. 

“So, how's this?  We have this magnificent technology that science has made available to people to facilitate commerce, to learn about different subjects, to privately pursue in a way that they may not even want their families to know what symptoms they have and what illness that might tell them about. 

“Most Americans have no or limited choices for broadband providers and no recourse against these invasions of their privacy, because with this measure, Republicans turn their back on the overwhelming number of Americans who want more control over their internet privacy.  

“Americans can choose who represent them in Congress.  Americans are paying close attention.  They want to know who is taking a stand with them in opposing efforts to sell the private – their private information to the American people.  This is staggering.  This is almost a surrender.  If the Republicans are allowed to do this, we have surrendered all thoughts of privacy for the American people. 

“Privacy is a value that the American people treasure.  It's about their dignity.  It's about their dignity.  We cannot allow the Republicans to sell the dignity of the American people.  I hope that everyone will vote ‘no’ on this most unfortunate assault on the dignity of the American people.  I yield back the balance of my time.”

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