On Thursday October 27th, federal officials delivered a ruling that was a major win for online consumer privacy. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued new rules that require internet providers to receive explicit consent from consumers before using their browsing data. Before the new rules, internet providers were able to access consumers’ data including: internet history, app usage, mobile location data, financial information, content from emails, and health data. They would they sell the data to advertisers without the consumer’s permission. The new rules require internet providers to inform customers on what data they are collecting and also alert them of any data breaches.
Although these rules are a huge win for online privacy, there has been serious push back from Republican FCC officials and major businesses like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast. The main reason internet providers want to collect consumers’ information is for targeted advertising. Because the rules only apply to internet providers, arguments have been made that the ruling provides an unfair advantage to companies such as Google and Facebook that still able to make large profits off selling consumer information. Republican FCC officials argue that the regulation should be uniform and should apply to all companies on the web.
FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler has responded to these arguments by stating that ultimately “It is the consumer’s’ information. How it is used should be the consumer’s choice”. He has also repeatedly stated that he declines to extend the new rules to individual websites such as, Google and Facebook.
Brian Fung and Craig Timberg, The FCC just passed sweeping new rules to protect your online privacy, T?? W????????? P??? (Oct. 27, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/10/27/the-fcc-just-passed-sweeping-new-rules-to-protect-your-online-privacy/