While the privacy groups haven't proposed many specific rules for the FCC to adopt, they want the FCC to go farther than the FTC practice of filing complaints only after the agency saw a privacy violation.
The ISPs "have an obligation" to disclose more details about the information they collect and their uses of it, Feld said. The groups want the FCC to look at how ISPs are coming cable data from customer set-top boxes with other sources to "create very detailed user profiles for marketing purposes," he added.
The privacy groups also want ISPs to get opt-in permission to use customer data for most purposes. "We want ISPs to secure clear permission from subscribers before using the data collected for any purpose other than to provide broadband service," he said.
But extensive new rules may not be necessary with more customers using encryption to protect their data, some critics said.
Even the privacy groups recognize that "the use of encryption only continues to grow," said Debbie Matties, vice president for privacy at CTIA. "While many other companies providing services on the Internet have the ability to see and monetize this encrypted data, ISPs cannot. Different rules for ISPs would only confuse consumers and is not supported by the facts."
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