Thursday, The FCC voted to pass new privacy laws that require ISP’s, or Internet Service Providers to obtain customer permission before they are allowed to gather and use personal information. Under the new laws, ISPs will have to get ‘opt-in’ permission to collect such data as browsing history, usage, health, financial, children information, GPS info, as well as any and all online communication. Under the new laws, customers must all be informed how their information is being used, and who they share it with.
“Consumers care deeply about their privacy and so should we,” Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Clyburn said.
Clyburn had joined other Democrats such as Tom Wheeler in passing the new laws at their monthly meeting. Wheeler was cited as saying the new privacy rules are a common-sense step because before them there were no protections.
2015’s Open Internet Rules adoption brought these changes about. The FCC was given the authority to start regulating ISP’s as common carriers, being compared to the providers of landline phone service. Once this happened, carriers were no longer under the Federal Trade Commission’s authority. After seven months, the outcome closely mirrored the FTC’s approach, but with a few changes. Among these was the amount of data that became classified under sensitive information.
Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’ Rielly accused the FCC of over-reaching its authority, and exaggerating the issue. They pointed out that the FCC’s privacy rules changed from how the FTC handled the issue of information collecting.
“In creating this disparate system of regulation, the FCC is both confusing consumers and likely to create an unlevel playing field,” Pai stated.
His concern stemmed from the possibility that the opt-in process could cause some consumers to pass up features and developments accidentally.
“Broadband providers will be reluctant to extend, and may even forgo, valuable offers and discounts that consumers would want for fear,” O’Reilly said. “Consumers will be bombarded with opt-in notice requirements every time they search online, however innocuous the data they seek might be.”
The Association of National Advertisers said in a statement that they planned either to challenge the matter in a court of law, or take congressional action to reverse the FCC’s rulemaking. The groups statement also suggested:
“An interagency council including the FCC and the FTC should attempt to make privacy rules uniform and consistent. The forces at work in the digital world today are only going to make privacy more complex for all of us to control.”
These rules are set to take effect one year after they are published in the Federal Register, which is said to happen before the end of 2016. The requirement for ISP’s to notify users goes about data breaches goes into effect 6 months before the rule changes.