FCC Passes New Privacy Rules


New privacy rules passed by the Federal Communication Commission Thursday require Internet service providers to ask permission of their customers to collect and use personal information.

Providers of fixed and mobile broadband will need to get opt-in consent for data such as their consumers’ Web browsing history, app usage, health and financial information, children’s information, precise geolocation information, and the content of online communications. Customers must also be notified how their information is used and what other parties the Internet service provider shares it with. Other non-sensitive consumer data could be used on an opt-out basis.

“Consumers care deeply about their privacy and so should we,” said Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Clyburn, who joined fellow Democrats Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in approving the measure with a 3-2 vote at the agency’s monthly meeting.

Wheeler described the adoption of new consumer privacy rules as a “common sense step … because before today there were no protections.”

Consumer privacy over Internet service providers’ (ISPs) broadband networks came under jurisdiction of the FCC after last year’s net neutrality or Open Internet rules were adopted. That gave the agency the authority to regulate ISPs as “common carriers,” akin to how telephone companies have provided landline phone service.

Once broadband providers were classified as common carriers, they were no longer under the Federal Trade Commission’s authority. Over the seven-month rule-making process, the FCC attempted to mirror the FTC’s privacy framework with a few differences, including what amounts to “sensitive” information, Clyburn says.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Mike Snider

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