FCC sets aside new Net data privacy rule

03 March, 2017, 01:14 | Author: Elaine Woods
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The FCC's sole Democratic Commissioner (out of three), Mignon Clyburn, voted unsuccessfully to uphold the privacy rules. While these web companies have their own privacy policies, and are bound by a patchwork of state laws that mandate data breach notification, no comprehensive federal law exists that provides a national baseline for their privacy and data security practices.

So far, so good, but then the two clearly paint a target on net neutrality itself: "That's why we disagreed with the FCC's unilateral decision in 2015 to strip the FTC of its authority over broadband providers' privacy and data security practices, removing an effective cop from the beat", continues the joint statement.

"As ITTA said when the previous FCC issued unduly expansive, new consumer privacy rules four months ago, these sector-specific regulations disproportionally disadvantage ISPs vis-à-vis edge providers".

A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on Wednesday prevented stricter consumer privacy protections for internet providers from becoming law. "Charter supports efforts to adopt a uniform set of privacy regulations that ensure that all internet entities - whether they are established broadband providers, the largest web companies or new entrants to the industry - are held to the same standards for how consumer personal data may be used". But critics said that it would have set up different requirements than privacy rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). "From the outset of this proceeding, we stressed the importance of creating a consistent approach to privacy and data security that gives consumers the same information and choices about the use of their data, regardless of the type of company they interact with online". "It creates a huge gap in consumer protections where websites have data security requirements, while ISPs with a direct customer relationship do not".

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When the FCC voted past year to adopt the rule, then-FTC chair Edith Ramirez voiced her support for it, saying that the FCC's rule "will provide robust privacy protections, including protecting sensitive information such as consumers' social security numbers, precise geolocation data, and content of communications, and requiring reasonable data security practices". The stay will remain in place until the Commission decides on alternative action.

That ruling means the FTC can not actually regulate ISPs, despite the wish of FCC leadership to leave the other agency in charge of issuing privacy rules.

"The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are committed to protecting the online privacy of American consumers", said Pai and Ohlhausen.

However, some in Congress aim to repeal the FCC's privacy rules in their entirety, while weakening the FTC's authority, said Chris Lewis, vice president of public interest group Public Knowledge.

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