Change Is in the Air: FCC Approves New Rule Restricting Private Data for Broadband Providers

img_5982-2334Privacy has, and probably always will be, a big deal for most individuals, and in the modern age, many companies make money off of the data they can collect from the individual, including broadband providers.

On Oct. 27, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to establish new rules restricting the data broadband Internet Service Providers can gather from customers and private individuals without permission. Data on web browsing, app use, location, and financial information now cannot be taken nor distributed without permission.

For the full rules and regulations, go to the FCC’s website here.

The passing of this rule will greatly affect broadband providers who rely on user data for advertisement purposes. However, it will also give private people more of a choice to whom their information is released.

“The rules ensure broadband customers have meaningful choice, greater transparency, and strong security protections for their personal information collected by ISPs,” the FCC said in a press release made on Oct. 27. View the full press release in this Microsoft Word document.

Broadcasters will need to follow the “framework of customer consent” established by the regulations, according to the press release. Three major guidelines should be available for consumers to choose:

  1. Opt-in: ISPs need to obtain consent from consumers to use and share sensitive information under specific categories stated in the opt-in agreement. Examples of sensitive information would be precise geo-location, financial information, social security numbers, etc.
  2. Opt-out: ISPs will need to offer an opt-out for consumers who do not wish to have their non-sensitive information made available. Otherwise, ISPs are allowed to use the information if the consumer does not opt-out. Non-sensitive information can include email address or service tier information.
  3. Exceptions to consent requirements: ISPs can infer customer consent for certain purposes specified in the rules, including the provision of broadband service or billing and collection. No additional consent for this information is required of an ISP other than the creation of the customer-ISP relationship.

“Today the Commission takes a significant step to safeguard consumer privacy in this time of rapid technological change,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement made on Oct. 27, “as we adopt rules that will allow consumers to choose how their ISP uses and shares their personal data.”

Download the full Microsoft Word document of the statement here.

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