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FCC wants ISPs to get customer permission before sharing personal data

Grant Gross | March 11, 2016
The proposed rules would also require broadband providers to report data breaches

But broadband customers shouldn't have to rely on encryption or VPNs to protect their personal data against sharing by providers, FCC officials said.

The move of the FCC toward new privacy rules for ISPs is related in part to the agency's reclassification of broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service in new net neutrality rules passed in February 2015. Reclassification of broadband moved the authority for policing broadband privacy from the Federal Trade Commission to the FCC, privacy groups have said.

Under common-carrier rules, "the information collected by the phone company about your telephone usage has long been protected information," Wheeler wrote.  FCC rules "limit your phone company’s ability to repurpose and resell what it learns about your phone activity. The same should be true for information collected by your ISP."

Privacy advocate Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, called the proposed rules a "major step forward" for privacy in the U.S.

"Today, Americans have really no privacy when they go online, use mobile phones, or stream videos," he said. "They face a growing threat to their privacy as cable and phone company broadband ISPs construct a powerful and pervasive data gathering apparatus."

 

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