Regulation

FCC chief wants to expand privacy rules for broadband

Telecom VOIP Switch - Shutterstock

The 2015 open Internet rule gives the Federal Communications Commission the authority to set privacy rules, and the agency is preparing to flex that regulatory muscle on the issue of broadband privacy.

The proposal, circulated by the FCC on March 10, would require ISPs to obtain consent from customers before sharing their data with third-party marketers. Additionally, customers would have the ability to opt-out of marketing pitches from their ISP and its affiliates.

"Simply by using the Internet, you have no choice but to share large amounts of personal information with your broadband provider," said Wheeler in a blog post. "You have a right to know what information is being collected about you and how that information is being used."

Wheeler drew a parallel to the billing information collected by phone companies, which is also subject to FCC rules. "The same should be true for information collected by your ISP," he said. "The bottom line is that it's your data. How it's used and shared should be your choice."

"It's not about prohibition," said FCC Wireline Competition Bureau Chief Matt DelNero. "It's about permission."

The proposed rules would apply to broadband provders, but not to web sites that collect information on users. It also doesn’t touch on issues of law enforcement or spy agency access to ISP data.

Doug Brake, a telecommunications policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, objected to the policy direction, saying, "A sector-specific privacy rulemaking for broadband providers is misguided.

Any such rules are still a long way off. The FCC will vote March 31 on whether the proposed rule can advance to a public comment period.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.

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