A Better Way For Online Consumer Privacy

The rules, which the FCC passed in a party-line vote in October, require internet service providers such as AT&T and Verizon to obtain customers' permission before using their personal information for advertising purposes.

Less than a month after WikiLeaks revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency can hack common household technology to spy on people, the Republican-controlled Senate has overturned an Obama-era regulation that protected Americans from privacy invasions by private companies. The House could vote on a similar measure next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate was overturning a regulation that "makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment".

If the privacy rules were to go into effect, consumers would have to give their consent for service providers to use and share "sensitive information" such as location tracking, social security numbers, browsing data and app usage. However, it doesn't come as a surprise since the new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has remained outspoken against these rules since the beginning.

Privacy and consumer advocates, including the Center for Democracy & Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union, decried the Senate vote. That's a much stronger privacy-protection weapon than letting them use your data until you tell them to stop. Experts say federal law still requires broadband providers to protect customer information - but it doesn't spell out how or what companies must do.

Myth 2: Even if Congress repeals the FCC's recent privacy rules, the FCC still has authority to enforce consumer privacy protections more generally under Section 222 of the Communications Act. The resolution would undo privacy rules that ensure consumers control how their most sensitive information is used.




Privacy advocates widely condemned this afternoon's Senate vote.

He and the head of the Federal Trade Commission, Maureen Ohlhausen, said in a joint statement earlier this month that the FTC should oversee all internet privacy issues. Together with major cable and telcom companies, they have argued that the rules put ISPs on unequal footing with other major data-collecting companies like Google or Facebook, which are overseen instead by the Federal Trade Commission.

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, said the vote marked a rout for consumers.

To be effective in this dynamic world, Internet privacy rules must apply in a consistent and comprehensive way across the entire organic online ecosystem. Q&A with IBM's VP for cyber threat intel RNC drops six-figure ad buy for Supreme Court, healthcare fight MORE (D-Fla.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. "Flake [the resolution's sponsor] and his colleagues for recognizing the FCC rule is overly broad and inconsistent with the FTC's approach and we urge the House to consider its own Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the rule".

The argument of consumer groups and the previous FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, to that has been that privacy rules should be tightened at the FTC, rather than scrapped at the FCC. Facebook and Google see a lot, sure, but ISPs see a lot too, and a very different set of data.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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