AT&T's Cicconi Claims FCC Set-Top ‘Double Standard’

AT&T's top Washington exec, Jim Cicconi, takes strong issue with the FCC proposal to make third-party device and app developers self-certify adherence to cable-like data privacy rules as a quid pro quo for access to set-top data.

In a blog post scheduled to post Feb. 18, only hours before the FCC is to vote on FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's set-top proposal, Cicconi, citing B&C's story about that privacy element, said that it betrayed a double standard.

AT&T is a member of the Future of Television Coalition, comprising MVPDs, studios and others critical of the proposal.

He cited the FCC's open Internet rules, saying: "If the FCC cannot accept voluntary assurances on net neutrality principles, insisting it must have 'enforceable rules', then it should apply that argument consistently.  It cannot get into the business of deciding whose voluntary assurances it will accept, and whose it will not."

He said such voluntary assurances on privacy from, for instance, Google—a major backer of the proposal—are unenforceable. He said Google "harvests more personal and private information from American citizens than any other entity," and yet the chairman seems willing to accept those unenforceable assurances from Google "while insisting other companies [ISPs] cannot be trusted and can only be constrained by regulation."

He called such a double standard "blatant and unsupportable."

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.