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OPLIN 4cast #439: Net neutrality and privacy

Posted in 4cast

FCC logoOn June 12, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) intends to reclassify Internet service providers (ISPs) as “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which will give the FCC the authority to keep ISPs from discriminating between customers and providing different Internet access quality for similar types of customer traffic. In other words, the FCC will take a big step toward enforcing “net neutrality.” But Title II was primarily written to regulate the AT&T telephone monopoly, and therefore, it contains some other provisions that may now have the additional effect of strengthening Internet privacy.

  • The FCC’s net neutrality decision could mean stronger privacy rules for Internet service providers (The Washington Post | Andrea Peterson)  “FCC spokesperson Mark Wigfield confirmed that the agency’s vote will give it more oversight over the privacy practices of Internet service providers. Privacy advocates say this is probably a win for consumers, because for the first time ISPs will have to abide by a specific set of rules designed to protect the privacy of communications. The Communications Act, which governs the FCC, includes ‘one of the strongest federal privacy laws currently on the books,’ according to Laura Moy, senior counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute.”
  • FCC has new privacy requirements for broadband providers (Law360 | Michael Pryor)  “The protections, found in Section 222 of Title II of the Communications Act, govern data known as Customer Proprietary Network Information (“CPNI”). This section will be among the Title II provisions of the Communications Act that the chairman intends to apply to broadband providers once broadband is reclassified as a telecommunications service. These privacy rules likely supplant the privacy protections currently enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC does not have jurisdiction over providers of telecommunications services (also known as common carriers).”
  • ISPs really don’t want to follow new customer data privacy rules (Ars Technica | Jon Brodkin)  “CPNI rules for phone service prevent companies from using customer information to market new services without the customer’s permission. They also require companies to report to customers and to law enforcement when customer information is disclosed without customer permission. Phone providers ‘may use, disclose or permit access to your customer information in these circumstances: (1) as required by law; (2) with your approval; and (3) in providing the service from which the customer information is derived,’ the FCC says.”
  • FCC issues guidance on broadband privacy (Broadcasting & Cable | John Eggerton)  “The bureau said that it would be looking for ‘good faith’ efforts to comply with privacy protections, and that seeking bureau input would tend to show such ‘good faith.’ The FCC’s reclassification of ISPs under Title II common carrier is scheduled to take effect June 12 absent a court stay, and will give the FCC oversight of broadband customer proprietary network information (CPNI) once the purview of the Federal Trade Commission. But while the FCC said it would not forbear from applying Title II privacy regs under Sec. 222, it said it would not simply transfer the phone rules to ISPs, but instead likely launch a rulemaking to come up with new rules.”

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