Spoiler Alert: Congress has blocked the FCC from implementing new broadband privacy rules. Will this leave you and your data unprotected? No – existing FCC and other Federal guidelines provide a robust framework for consumer protection.
About two years ago, I put on a nice tie and sat as a panelist at an FCC public workshop to address broadband consumer privacy (see my report, here). I appeared on a panel with representatives from AT&T, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a state attorney general’s office, and NTIA. I explained that while community-based providers such as NTCA members collect consumer data for billing and other management purposes, my conversations with many members revealed that they do not collect personal data that may relate to their customers’ browsing habits. And, even when NTCA members obtained data for administrative or network management purposes, they generally used the same protocols for BIAS as they applied to their traditional regulated operations. Members explained two reasons for this approach: (1) administrative efficiency of maintaining a single set of privacy protocols, and (2) a personal, community-based commitment to securing their customers’ data. In each of my conversations with companies that collectively serve a large swath of members, their responses evidenced consistency in the close and careful attention paid to protecting personal information no matter the service to which the customer subscribes.