The Federal Communications Commission will craft new privacy rules on how Internet service providers can use customer data. The agency voted 3-2 Thursday to develop new rules requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to gain customer permission before using or sharing their data. “It’s the consumers’ information,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, “and the consumer should have the right to determine how it’s used.”
New privacy regulations dovetail with last year’s passage of Open Internet, or net neutrality rules, Wheeler said in a March 10 Huffington Post editorial and a speech at Georgetown University March 21st. He forwarded the proposal to the rest of the commission in preparation for a vote at Thursday’s regular commission meeting.
“Our ISPs handle all of our network traffic” on home and mobile networks, Wheeler said in an official statement released after the meeting. “Even when data is encrypted, our broadband providers can still piece together significant amounts of information about us – including private information such as a chronic medical condition or financial problems – based on our online activity.”
As Wheeler envisions, customers would be able to opt out of marketing from their Internet service providers and their affiliates and must opt in for any external use of their data. FCC staff will prepare a notice of rule-making for online publication and will then take public comments on the issue from companies, groups and individuals for +0 days after its release online, prior to crafting the rules.
Opponents to the measure, including trade groups ‘USTelecom’ and free market think-tank ‘Free State Foundation’, have argued that the FCC’s privacy provisions may be different than those the Commission uses to regulate sites and services on the Net.
“It is disappointing the FCC is pursuing a new privacy framework that will impose onerous requirements on broadband providers and will mistakenly leave consumers with the impression that they are receiving meaningful new protections," said Mobile Future Chairman Jonathan Spalter.
Commissioner Michael O’Reily, who along with fellow Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai voted against the privacy measure, said that it sets the agency off “on a statutory fishing expedition” and represents “an alarming display of doublethink.”
Congress directed the FCC to create privacy regulations for traditional phone companies and now must do so for Internet connectivity, said Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. "There is absolutely no comparison" between the information that could be gathered by today's ISPs and traditional phone companies, she said. "Times have changed and we need to ensure that our rules are updated to reflect these technological transformations," she said.
The commission also voted 3-2 along political lines – with Democrats Clyburn, Wheeler and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel in favor – to expand the Lifeline program, which for more than 30 years has provided discounted telephone service to low-income Americans, to include mobile or fixed broadband service.
Read Article (Mike Snider | usatoday.com | 03/31/2016)
I just got a notice from AT&T about the privacy of my customer proprietary network information they’re going to share with their affiliates. To allow this requires no action on my part, but if I don’t want my information shared I must submit a form or call a number. This is backwards, “silence” should not be used as consent.
Statistics show that only 1 in 10 will “go to the trouble” of not allowing this to happen, and they know this statistic very well. I, for one, am not going to allow it.
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