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Privacy & Data

FCC Seizing Opportunity To Protect Privacy of Broadband Consumers

Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler placed on circulation a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding privacy protections for broadband Internet access service subscribers. With the 2015 Open Internet Order’s reclassification of broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service, broadband service providers became subject to the privacy protections under Section 222 of the Communications Act. As explained in a fact sheet released today, the NPRM aims to clarify how Section 222 applies to broadband Internet access service.

Overall, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) agrees with the thoughtful approach that Chairman Wheeler outlines in the fact sheet. It addresses the importance of giving consumers effective notice and control over their personal information by strengthening consumer choice, transparency, and data security.

“Given the central role the Internet plays in our daily lives and the amount and sensitivity of the data we share online, consumers need to be put in the driver’s seat. 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,” says Katharina Kopp, CDT Director of Privacy and Data.

CDT has long advocated for baseline privacy protections for consumers and citizens, and would like to see all practices in the digital broadband ecosystem be subject to effective privacy protections. “The FCC proposed actions today are an important first step. It’s good to see the FCC seize this rare and important opportunity to protect the privacy of broadband consumers,” Kopp added.

CDT will engage in the forthcoming rulemaking process, advocating for sensible privacy protections that are not overly prescriptive and allow for some flexibility. The end goal is a set of rules that offer effective privacy protections for broadband consumers.