Reactions to the FCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding privacy protections rules for ISPs came rushing in after a fact sheet was released yesterday. The proposed regulation would have a serious effect on service providers’ abilities to share customers’ online activities with marketers, unless users opt-in.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association was not pleased at all, and suggested some of the proposal was based on unfounded information and anxieties. “We are disappointed by Chairman Wheeler’s apparent decision to propose prescriptive rules on ISPs that are at odds with the requirements imposed on other large online entities,” the trade group said in a statement.
NCTA also noted that as the process on the proposal moves forward and the full Commission considers further action, “we hope that it will engage in a more sober assessment – one guided by facts and not demonstrably false claims and fears – to promote an approach that will ensure greater consistency in consumer privacy protection and fair competition among all Internet participants.”
The think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation agreed with that sentiment, and said the proposed rulemaking was unwarranted. ITIF released a statement from Doug Brake, telecommunications policy analyst in which he said a sector-specific privacy rulemaking for broadband providers is misguided.
“Under the FTC’s enforcement of best practices and broadband provider policies, privacy protections are already well balanced with other values, such as cost, usability, or innovation,” Brake observes. “Moreover, a sector-specific rulemaking ignores privacy-protecting technologies like encryption and virtual networks, and the fact that all major broadband providers already allow consumers to control how their information is used.”
Brake suggests that privacy activists have successfully convinced the FCC “to ignore the benefits of FTC privacy oversight,” and that “the greater flexibility under the FTC enforcement framework allows room for new business models that could support expensive, next-generation networks with revenue other than consumers’ monthly bills.”
Calling them a vocal minority, he says they place a higher price on their privacy than the average consumer.
Not everyone was happy with the FCC’s proposal of course, but there was applause directed at it as well.
The Center for Digital Democracy used its statement to underline its premise that not only do Americans lack privacy when they go online or use mobile devices, they face a growing threat as “cable and phone company broadband ISPs construct a powerful and pervasive data gathering apparatus.”
It further claims that phone and cable service providers “are mounting campaigns that use all their data power to track us across our devices, using personal information such as our location, financial behavior, race/ethnicity and if we have children. The proposed FCC opt-in for most consumer transactions can provide a foundation where data is under a person’s control — not a broadband company or some unknown third party.”
Overall, the Center for Democracy & Technology showed agreement with Chairman Wheeler’s outlines in the fact sheet. It said it will engage in the forthcoming rulemaking process, advocating for “sensible privacy protections that are not overly prescriptive and allow for some flexibility.”
Katharina Kopp, CDT Director of Privacy and Data, observes that since there is a large amount of sensitive data shared online, consumers need better control of what’s disseminated. “Giving individuals the opportunity to affirmatively consent to uses of their broadband data for purposes unrelated to providing communications services is fair and will give them some much needed control,” Kopp says.
Filed Under: Industry regulations