FCC Warns Internet Providers To Comply With Privacy Rules

While some Internet service providers are aching to track users’ every online move so they can analyze and sell that data, the FCC is warning these companies that the Commission will be taking a hard look at these practices after the new net neutrality rules kick in next month.

“The Commission has found that absent privacy protections, a broadband provider’s use of personal and proprietary information could be at odds with its customers’ interests,” reads an enforcement advisory [PDF] sent out yesterday by the FCC.

The advisory also notes that consumers would be more willing to use broadband services if they were more certain that their personal info is being protected.

Section 222 of the Communications Act offers basic privacy protections for telephone service customers, but the rules weren’t applied to broadband providers because they were not classified as a telecommunications service.

However, the FCC’s new Open Internet Order reclassifies broadband so that it falls under this more regulated category, meaning that Section 222 can be applied.

The advisory notes that there may be a future broadband-specific guidance on these issues, but in the interim the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau “intends to focus on whether broadband providers are taking reasonable, good-faith steps to comply.”

Recent actions by some ISPs have raised new questions about privacy. For example, AT&T’s high-speed GigaPower service offers some customers a significant monthly discount if they’re willing to allow the company to track their online browsing activity. In the wireless world, Verizon has been heavily criticized for its use of “supercookies” trackers that users did not know about and could not initially opt out of.

[via DSLreports.com]

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