The Federal Trade Commission is the top privacy regulator of the US and they are now under pressure to crack down on the privacy and data collection methods of AT&T®, Comcast®, and many other internet providers in the light of a recent court ruling, which would offer FTC the power to police all the internet providers.
Many consumer advocate groups are forcing the FTC to reopen a complaint that was filed against Comcast®, AT&T®, and Cablevision®. The complaint was filed against the alleged deceptive practices that were related to the privacy policies of these internet service providers.
As per groups like Consumer Federation of America, Public Knowledge, Center for Digital Democracy, and many others, these cable providers are violating the privacy of users, as they do not adequately notify users on the amount of data that the internet providers are collecting, compiling and using for making targeted marketing campaigns.
“Specifically, the complaint provides evidence that these cable operators failed to adequately disclose (1) the extent to which they were collecting consumer information via their non-common carrier subscription television services; (2) how they shared this information; and (3) how this information was combined with personal information collected through other means, such as information collected via the subscription video provider’s Title II internet offering to create comprehensive profiles on consumers, including data about consumers’ families, personal habits, and other characteristics,” the groups said in a letter sent to acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen.
This complaint was filed before a year, a few months before the FTC lost a lawsuit against AT&T® for deceiving the users of their unlimited data plans. It was reported that the best internet provider was throttling the users once they reach a download threshold. This was questioned by FTC and when they tried to fine AT&T®, they claimed in court that the FTC is no longer capable of regulating AT&T® as they are recently classified as “common carrier.” Common carrier is a public utility designation under FCC offered to all the internet providers in 2015 as part of enforcing the net neutrality rules.
A federal court said that the claims of AT&T® are true and barred the top privacy watchdog of the government from controlling and overseeing the practices of all the businesses that are classified as common carriers including Google®, AOL®, and Yahoo®. All of them collect loads of data on their users, make sophisticated profiles, and monetize the data to have targeted advertising.