FCC Proposes New Privacy Rules for Broadband Providers

April 1, 2016

Yesterday, splitting on party lines, the FCC voted 3-2 to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding privacy guidelines for broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The new rules would apply the privacy requirements of Section 222 of the Communications Act for broadband ISPs and would impose new requirements intended to permit consumers to control how their data is used by ISPs. Three categories are outlined for the use and sharing of consumer information:

  • Consent Inherent in Customer Decision to Purchase ISP’s Services:  Customer data necessary to provide broadband services and for marketing the type of broadband service purchased by a customer – and for certain other purposes consistent with customer expectations, such as contacting public safety – would require no additional customer consent beyond the creation of the customer-ISP relationship.
  • Opt-out:  Broadband providers would be allowed to use customer data for the purposes of marketing other communications-related services and to share customer data with their affiliates that provide communications-related services for the purposes of marketing such services unless the customer affirmatively opts out.
  • Opt-in:  All other uses and sharing of consumer data would require express, affirmative “opt-in” consent from customers.

In addition, the NPRM proposes additional transparency, data security, and data breach requirements for ISPs. According to the FCC’s press release on the matter, the NPRM does not apply to the privacy practices of web sites and other “edge services” over which the Federal Trade Commission has authority.

The opt-in provisions of the NPRM that the FCC proposes are the most extensive and pervasive so far put forward in regard to privacy, except for sensitive sectors like financial or health data.

ANA is considering filing comments in response to this latest FCC action, and we encourage all members to provide input on how this matter will impact their businesses. It has been stated that there are more than 500 questions in the NPRM, so input on these wide-ranging issues is particularly important if ANA is to respond effectively. ANA will supply our members this information once it is provided in the Federal Register.

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