FCC proposes privacy protections for broadband customers

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Washington, DC – Consumer Action applauds the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for recognizing that consumers should not have to choose between going online and enjoying privacy protection. Today the commission at its regular open meeting approved by a vote of 3-2 a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on broadband data privacy and security. The commission has outlined a plan that gives consumers control over how their personal information is used and shared by their broadband service providers. As soon as the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, it will be open for public comment.

“The FCC plan is consistent with privacy rules that have long applied to phone providers,” said Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at Consumer Action. “Under law, your phone company can’t sell or share information with third parties about your phone activity without your consent. The notice of proposed rulemaking released today would require Internet providers to meet similar consumer privacy standards.”

ISPs, like phone carriers, have access to highly personal data about customers’ private activities and communications. Subscribers have no choice but to provide that information, but they should have a say in what happens to it when it isn’t being used to provide broadband or communications services. Under the proposal, Internet service customers would have the right to prevent their information from being used for marketing by the provider and its affiliates by notifying the company that they want to “opt out” of such marketing.

All other uses and sharing of consumer data would require express, affirmative “opt-in” consent from customers. The FCC proposal makes privacy the default, giving consumers meaningful and informed control over the sharing of personal information with third parties and unaffiliated companies. The FCC proposal also would give consumers a right to know what information is being collected about them.


Through multilingual consumer education materials, community outreach and issue-focused advocacy, Consumer Action empowers underrepresented consumers nationwide to assert their rights in the marketplace and financially prosper.




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