Consumer coalition asks for stricter broadband privacy rules

A coalition of 60 consumer groups have asked the FCC to adopt rules that require large ISPs to protect personal data collected and shared without their consent.

The groups say the FCC should apply these privacy rules to a mix of wireless, wireline, cable and satellite TV providers.

AT&T (NYSE: T), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) would be among the many service providers that would have to abide by the proposed rules.

"Providers of broadband Internet access service, including fixed and mobile telephone, cable, and satellite television providers, have a unique role in the online ecosystem," the coalition said in a joint letter to the FCC. "Their position as Internet gatekeepers gives them a comprehensive view of consumer behavior and until now privacy protections for consumers using those services have been unclear."

The group added that as the role of the Internet increases in the daily life of consumers, it can "create a chilling effect on speech and increase the potential for discriminatory practices derived from data use."

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC said in November that the commission plans to look at privacy issues "in the next several months" from companies that "provide network services" so consumers can get an idea of what information is being collected about their Internet usage.

He said that service providers should ensure that any consumer information they collect is secure and they inform consumers if they want to participate.

When the FCC passed net neutrality rules in February 2015, which reclassified broadband as a Title II telecommunications service under the 1934 Telecommunications Act, it created a means to provide more active regulation of how ISPs use consumer data.

AT&T, for one, requires eligible 1 Gbps FTTH users who want a standalone broadband service to let the telco track and sell their browsing data to third-party marketing companies under its Internet Preferences program, for example.

The FCC would not provide Reuters with a comment on its broadband security plans.

Likewise USTelecom, which represents the ILEC community, would not comment on any security issues either.

For more:
- Reuters has this article

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