FCC Action Insures Consistent Privacy Protections

May 8, 2017

On April 3, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a congressional resolution preventing the Federal Communications Commission from implementing broadband privacy rules approved under the previous administration.

The rules, applicable only to Internet Service Providers, would have expanded the definition of “sensitive data” to include web browsing and application use data when linked to a device alone. Sensitive data requires a consumer’s opt-in to use or share. This would have been a significant departure from accepted industry practice and customer expectation that the collection and use of web viewing and application use data for advertising purposes is subject to an opt-out choice. Because the rules also would have applied only to ISPs, they would have been held to a different standard than the rest of the Internet ecosystem. In essence, consumers would have been bombarded by requests for consent any time an ISP tried to deliver an interest based advertisement.

AAF and many of our industry allies opposed the Commission’s original adoption of the rules and filed petitions urging the FCC to reconsider the rules.

While those petitions were pending, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced resolutions disapproving the rules. When the resolution was passed and signed by the President, the FCC’s rules were repealed and the agency was barred from issuing "substantially similar" rules in the future.

Consumers still enjoy substantial protections through the Federal Trade Commission’s longstanding and ongoing enforcement of tough privacy standards, particularly for personally identifiable sensitive information. Consumers also receive substantial protection through the industry’s self-regulatory program, the Digital Advertising Alliance.

Since the President and Congress’ action, many state legislators have introduced legislation to close the perceived gap in privacy protections. AAF has joined with many of our industry colleagues to explain to lawmakers that consumer privacy protection remains strong and that a patchwork of inconsistent state laws governing the Internet would be unworkable and ill serve both consumers and industry. To date, letters have been sent to state lawmakers in Alaska, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

View the original news article here.

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