FCC Approves Broadband Privacy in 3-2 Vote, Industry Pushes Back

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Media moguls like Comcast and Verizon now have to ask customers’ permission before using or sharing much of their data, the FCC ruled yesterday.  Under the new rules, for example, a broadband provider has to ask permission before it can tell an advertiser exactly what apps the customer is using, what websites they’ve used and where they are. The new rules could make garnering revenue from mobile-housed advertising more difficult.
Although the FCC’s approved measure was a diluted version of the original submission, the telecommunications, advertising and cable industries were critical of the action. The standards are much stricter than those imposed on web-based giants like Google and Facebook, which are regulated only by the FTC, and have the broadband community citing them as unfair to competitors.
“Today’s action is likely to create more consumer confusion, higher costs and less innovation,” said CTIA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Tom Power. “Consumers expect consistent data privacy protection regardless of when, where or how they access the internet. CTIA members appreciate the Commission moving toward rules that incorporate pieces of the guidance from the FTC and the Administration. Unfortunately, elements of the Order remain out of step with longstanding privacy practices,” Power said.
AT&T’s intended purchase of Time Warner and Verizon’s of AOL and Yahoo were supposed to bring in increasing digital advertising revenue based on a customer’s preference.
“Efforts to begin a separate FCC arbitration inquiry on questions already answered by Congress and the courts are similarly misguided,” CTIA’s Power said.  “The Commission should embrace arbitration provisions that lower costs for wireless service for Americans and provide a streamlined and efficient process to address disputes,” he said.
Published October 26, 2016

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