Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has released new draft rules designed to protect internet users from their internet service providers. The Broadband Consumer Privacy Proposal will require internet service providers to obtain express permission from their users before spying on all of your internet traffic and selling private information such as your web browsing history. The new FCC rules fall short of banning these types of pay-for-privacy schemes.
Wheeler explained why you need to be wary of your internet service provider:
“Your ISP handles all of your network traffic. That means it has a broad view of all of your unencrypted online activity—when you are online, the websites you visit, and the apps you use. If you have a mobile device, your provider can track your physical location throughout the day in real time. Even when data is encrypted, your broadband provider can piece together significant amounts of information about you—including private information such as a chronic medical condition or financial problems—based on your online activity.”
FCC decides not to ban Pay-For-Privacy internet service
The new rules that ISPs must follow if they want to offer a pay-for-privacy internet scheme where users can choose to pay less in exchange for having personal information sold.
ISPs must notify customers about what types of information they collect, specify how ISPs use and share the information, and identify the types of entities they share the data with.
ISPs that want to use and share anonymized data without consent must take steps to ensure that the data cannot be linked to specific individuals or devices.
ISPs must notify customers about data breaches within 30 days and notify the FCC within seven days.
FCC internet privacy rules still receive stubborn opposition
USTelecom, a lobbying firm representing ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon, is unsurprisingly against the FCC’s plans but only offers useless tangents and soundbytes in defense. USTelecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement:
“Consumers are best served when privacy rules are clear and consistent across the entire Internet. We are concerned… that the commission, which has no expertise with regard to determining the content of speech, is now attempting to redefine what consumers may regard as sensitive. In this regard, consumers would be better served if the FCC were to defer to the expertise of the FTC in this area, and the two agencies were to pursue a uniform approach.”
What is he even talking about? The FTC specifically supports the FCC Open Internet Order and plans for FCC net neutrality; in fact, their commissioner even said in a statement titled Net Neutrality and Privacy: Don’t Fear the Reclassification:
“First, let me be clear about where I stand on the basic issues surrounding net neutrality. I support the FCC’s goal of preventing the blocking or degradation of sites and services that consumers want to reach.”
USTelecom is intentionally trying to mislead the media, and by extension the public, and derail the conversation back to incorrect suggestions that the FCC might determine the content of speech or what consumers regard as sensitive. Where in reality, USTelecom is fighting tooth and nail to make sure their clients can continue to make additional profits by selling your private information. Unfortunately, the new FCC rules fall short of banning these types of pay-for-privacy schemes altogether. The vote will happen on 10/27/16 and these new rules are expected to pass.