Ad Agencies Challenge FCC Broadband Privacy Rules

Advertising and marketing associations joined ISPs in calling on the FCC to back off its broadband privacy proposal.

The Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Data & Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau. and the Network Advertising Initiative joined to file a petition for reconsideration at the FCC Tuesday, Jan. 3, the deadline for challenging the Oct. 27 order.

A divided FCC in October voted to require ISPs to get their subs' permission (notice and choice) before sharing web browsing and app use histories with third parties for marketing and other purposes, as well as instituting data security and data breach notification rules as well as a prohibition on making info sharing a quid pro quo for service, and a case-by-case look at offering incentives to share info. The order also preempts state privacy, data security and data breach laws that conflict with the new rules.

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Ad agencies had argued against the rules, saying the FCC should have aligned its regulation with the Federal Trade Commission's approach to edge provider privacy, which was more flexible and did not have an opt-in mandate for web browsing info.

They told the FCC this week the order was fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons. Those included that the decision was arbitrary and capricious — in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, ignored less restrictive proposals that had been offered, and provided insufficient time for parties to comment on the proposal after it changed "materially" from the original FCC proposal.

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.