ACA: FCC Should Follow FTC Privacy Lead

Among those singing the praises of a harmonized broadband privacy regime is the American Cable Association, though if the FCC does not follow along, it wants the commission to exempt its members from many of the requirements and give them extra time to comply with whatever the FCC does.

The FCC, having inherited broadband customer privacy oversight from the Federal Trade Commission when it reclassified ISPs as common carriers, has proposed new bright-line rules that would require ISPs to get permission from their subs before sharing information with third parties.

That is different from the FTC approach, which, given its limited rulemaking authority, is to enforce voluntary privacy policies.

In comments on that proposal, ACA says it is "very troubled" by the approach, which means prescriptive rules for ISPs but the FTC approach for the edge-provider data collectors.

It wants the FCC to abandon the prescriptive approach and harmonize with the FTC's more flexible regulatory framework.

But if not, it wants exemptions from much of the reporting requirements of the proposal given the particular added cost burdens ACA says it would place on its smaller and midsized operators—opportunity costs of diverting scarce resources, personnel costs, third-party costs, and more.

It also wants a year extension to comply with whatever the FCC does.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.