FCC says broadband ISPs have to improve customer privacy protection

The FCC has asked broadband ISPs to put more provisions in place to protect customers' privacy, signaling how it may enforce its new Open Internet Order that will officially go into effect on June 12.

Improving privacy protection is part of the implementation of Section 222 of the Communications Act of 1934, one of the key pieces of legislation used to pass the new Open Internet Order. 

Although it wants to emphasize the needs for greater privacy, the regulator said it won't apply a number of telephone-centric rules implementing Section 222, adding that it may issue new implementing rules adapted to broadband providers later.

"The Commission has found that absent privacy protections, a broadband provider's use of personal and proprietary information could be at odds with its customers' interests and that if consumers have concerns about the protection of their privacy, their demand for broadband may decrease," the FCC said in a statement. "At the same time, the Commission declined to apply its existing telephone-centric rules implementing Section 222 and indicated that in the future it may adopt implementing rules that are tailored to broadband providers."

Until it releases further implementation guidelines or regulations, the FCC's enforcement of the Open Internet Order will focus on whether broadband providers are taking "reasonable, good-faith steps" to comply with Section 222, rather than focusing on technical details.

The FCC said that this means broadband providers "should employ effective privacy protections in line with their privacy policies and core tenets of basic privacy protections."

Any broadband provider can request advisory opinions to gain further insight as to whether their conduct complies with the Open Internet Order. The FCC said that any request for guidance will show that the broadband provider is acting in good faith. 

For more:
- see the FCC statement

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