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01 Apr

Comcast And AT&T Support Repeal Of FCC Privacy Rules

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FCC Privacy Rules

Comcast and AT&T are among those internet providers who are defending the Republican move to remove internet privacy rules from Obama-era. They accused that the critics of the move are misinformed. Bob Quinn, AT&T’s top lobbyist, said in a blog post, “it is not surprising that some folks are ignoring the facts.”

In another post, chief privacy officer and deputy general counsel of Comcast, Gerard Lewis said that the privacy policy of the company is still stronger than what the rule calls for. Chief privacy officer of Verizon Karen Zacharia also wrote in a blog post that the company “does not sell the personal web browsing history of our customers.”

“Consumers benefit and innovations flourish when there is one consistent consumer privacy framework that applies to all internet companies and users in the internet ecosystem,” Zacharia added. “That is what Congress voted for this week.”

The rule of the Federal Communication Commission would have required the ISPs to treat the data of their consumers like browsing history, medical, and financial information as sensitive data. It is mandatory that the internet service providers get permission from the customers before sharing or using the data to make targeted ads.

Republicans voted against the rules to eliminate them under a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution before the rules become effective and it is expected that President Trump would sign the bill. However, the move has led an outrage among Democrats as well as the consumer groups.

Quinn noted that the outcry is overblown. “First and foremost, all of the rhetoric that asserts — without any factual support — that the CRA vote suddenly eliminated consumer privacy protections is just plain wrong,” he said. “The reality is that the FCC’s new broadband privacy rules had not yet even taken effect.”

“There has been a lot of misleading talk about how the congressional action this week to overturn the regulatory overreach of the prior FCC will now permit us to sell sensitive customer data without customers’ knowledge or consent,” added Lewis. “This is just not true.”

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FCC Rules Repeal

Lewis also said that Comcast is planning to revise their privacy policy to “make more clear and prominent that, contrary to the many inaccurate statements and reports, we do not sell our customers’ individual web browsing information to third parties.”

AT&T and other internet providers had grouped against the rule much before the FCC voted them on. They argued that the rules apply privacy standards unfairly to ISPs and it does not cover websites like Google and Facebook that also collect consumer data for targeted advertisements.

“If the government believes that location data is sensitive and requires more explicit consumer disclosures and permissions, then those protections should apply to all players that have access to location data, whether an ISP or edge player or search engine,” Quinn commented.

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