March 31, 2016
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding measures to protect the online privacy of broadband customers. New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) welcomes this development as a much-needed step toward protecting the privacy of Internet subscribers. This opens a period of public comment, and OTI looks forward to providing further input on the privacy concerns and proposals outlined in the NPRM.
The FCC’s NPRM examines the unique privacy concerns facing subscribers of residential or mobile broadband services. By the very nature of carrying a subscriber’s Internet traffic, Internet service providers (ISP) have a detailed and unique window to an individual’s online activities. Although broadband communications networks are now essential to everyday life, customers currently have little control or understanding over how their personal data is being collected, used, or shared by ISPs. The NPRM seeks to establish an enforceable broadband privacy framework centered on principles of choice, transparency, and security.
OTI has urged the FCC to initiate this rulemaking and to craft its proposal in accordance with civil rights principles. In January, OTI outlined recommendations on how the FCC could tackle 21st century communications privacy concerns.
The following statement can be attributed to Sarah Morris, Senior Counsel and Director of Open Internet Policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute:
“Internet service providers are uniquely situated to collect a significant amount of information about their subscribers, and high switching costs and a lack of available options in many areas mean that subscribers cannot easily change providers. Without strong privacy protections, users are therefore presented with a very challenging choice: put up with intrusive behavior from their ISPs, or stay offline.
After reclassifying broadband as a Title II service last year, the FCC has a statutory obligation to ensure its privacy rules are properly extended to broadband Internet access service. We applaud the FCC’s efforts today to take this important first step to modernize its privacy regime to include broadband providers.”
The following statement may be attributed to Emily Hong, Policy Program Associate at New America’s Open Technology Institute:
“By the very nature of their service, ISPs collect incredibly granular data on a user's online habits. Consumers need to be confident that they do not have to ransom their privacy away in order to go online, and the FCC’s action today is a step toward effective, context-specific privacy rules.”