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ANA Has Issues With FCC's Broadband Privacy Pivot

The Association of National Advertisers is a little less receptive to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's revised broadband privacy proposal after it did some more vetting.

“We are just beginning to review Chairman Wheeler’s Broadband CPNI Fact Sheet and are pleased that it now distinguishes between sensitive and non-sensitive information," ANA said in its initial statement last week.

Wheeler had modified his proposal to move toward the Federal Trade Commission model of regulating online privacy based on the sensitivity of the data, which advertisers can live with, but he was also proposing defining web browsing and app history as sensitive data requiring subs to opt into its use by third parties.

That has never been on advertisers' wish lists.

By Monday, the lead on ANA's statement reflected that.

"As ANA continues to carefully review the Chairman’s Fact Sheet, we are increasingly concerned about the expansion of the definition of 'sensitive information' that would require a vast amount of opt-in consents by consumers," the group said.

But it was just getting started.

"If adopted, it will result in consumers being barraged by an onslaught of opt-in requests... Every time someone goes on-line, for example, to listen to music or to look up the closest car dealership, or carry out a myriad of other searches, will they need to give their consent to information-gathering," the revised statement read.

"This definitional overreach will result in consumers having to opt out repeatedly throughout the day as they browse the web or be overloaded with a constant drumbeat of opt-in choices. In either case, this will have severe negative impacts for the on-line and mobile experience, resulting in harm to consumers and threatening the financial underpinnings of the Internet ecosystem. We strongly encourage the FCC as it continues its deliberations to reconsider this proposed definition, to ensure that it is not unduly broad and sweeping, and does not result in serious harms to the consumer experience."

ISPs have signaled the same problem with the proposal. They had suggested the more-FTC-like sensitivity approach to the FCC but argue the laundry list of sensitive information that requires opt-in consent is so broad that it is not very different from the original proposal to make most third-party sharing of info opt in.

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.