Congress may be giving internet service providers the go-ahead to share or sell people’s browsing history, but not getting consent in Seattle could cost cable operators bigly under a new city IT rule.

The Federal Communications Commission in October passed rules that would have required explicit consent from consumers for ISPs to share the data they collect, such as financial, health and browsing history details.

Congress passed a law, signed by President Donald Trump on April 3, that overturned those FCC rules before they were set to take effect.

Seattle Chief Technology Officer Michael Matt Miller said Mayor Ed Murray asked what power the city has to restore those privacy rules at the city level, which turns out to be allowed under municipal code.

The city’s Cable Customer Bill of Rights has been around since 1999, and was last amended in 2015 to add privacy protections regarding the disclosure of customer information by cable operators. That authority, Miller said, extends to internet services provided by those cable providers; Comcast, CenturyLink and Wave.

Miller said not only was the act by Congress of concern to the mayor, but it also elicited a request from the Community Technology Advisory Board to find a means of protecting customer information in Seattle.

“We were very pleased to see that we do have authority in this case, where we can affect positive change,” he said, adding Seattle is believed to be the first municipality to take action on this front. “We have talked to a number of cities that are exploring how they implement protections for their consumers.”

Under the IT rule, cable providers may not share or sell any data collected with any third parties without obtaining permission from the customers. If Comcast, CenturyLink or Wave violates this rule, the consumers have the right to seek civil action, and the city can also penalize the cable companies. That could include pulling franchise agreements, however, Miller said that would be on the extreme side of those actions available to the city.

“These companies have said that they believe in strong consumer protections and they have said that they do not sell this data today, so we don’t think this rule will be a huge burden on these companies,” he said.

These rules would not apply to Google or Facebook, much like the FCC rules thrown out by Congress would not have.

Cable providers in the city will have until Sept. 30 to report their compliance with the rule, followed by annual reconfirmation of that compliance.

“Where the Trump administration continues to roll back critical consumer protections, Seattle will act,” said Murray in a news release. “I believe protecting the privacy of internet users is essential and this policy allows the City to do just that. Because of regulation repeals at the national level, we must use all of the powers at our disposal to protect the rights of our residents.”

Miller said House Bill 2200 passed this week in the Legislature, which provides protections similar to Seattle’s rule, and the hope is that the Senate will follow suit.