FCC Tosses Stricter Rules For Broadband Providers

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed that the agency revert to the Internet privacy rules created by the Federal Trade Commission before the new rules were set to go into effect on March 2.

"All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the Federal government shouldn't favor one set of companies over another", said Mark Wigfield, acting director of the FCC's Office of Media Relations.

The next FCC meeting is scheduled for March 23, which, you may note, is after March 2.

"Under the guise of putting local monopoly ISPs on a level playing field with competitive edge providers, the Chairman's actions will leave consumers without any protections at all". Wheeler stepped down in January and Pai was named the new FCC chairman.

The rules, approved by the FCC in October, were supposed to protect consumers' sensitive personal information online. "It is the consumer's information, it is not the information of the network the consumer hires to deliver that information", he argued before the rules were passed 3-2 in October 2016, with the two Republican commissioners voting against. As part of the Open Internet Order, the Commission also recognized the carriers" mandate under the law "to protect the confidentiality of [their] customers' proprietary information.' Internet users want and need these kinds of updated consumer privacy safeguards to protect their private information from unauthorized disclosure and abuse.

The fact that the FCC likely won't review the transaction doesn't mean that the merger will necessarily go through - there's a lot of opposition to it from consumer advocacy groups, and President Donald Trump has said he opposes the deal on multiple occasions.

On the other hand, privacy advocates have noted that ISPs are more capable of collecting data than websites and other companies, as ISPs are responsible for providing the connections to those websites and companies.

The newly appointed Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is moving to scale back the implementation of sweeping privacy rules for Internet providers passed a year ago. So the FTC won't be protecting the privacy of ISP customers unless ISPs are reclassified. That includes financial and health information, information pertaining to children, Social Security numbers, precise geo-location data, the content of communications, call detail information, Web browsing history, and application usage history. But even without the vote, the FCC staff can hit pause on the data security part of the rules until the full FCC vote on the pending petitions to reconsider the broader privacy rules. But broadband service is different. For example, since ISPs are chosen by the consumer, the consumer would be more comfortable knowing that the chosen company has access to the consumer's data. While other elements of the rules are now being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, analysts said Friday that a temporary stay is the initial step toward blocking them long-term.

  • Larry Hoffman