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Mid-Sized ISPs Have Big Problem With Privacy Proposal

ITTA – The Voice of Mid-Size Communications Companies has made its voice heard loud and clear on the FCC's broadband privacy proposal: The FCC meant well but messed up.

In comments filed Friday, the deadline for initial input, ITTA said the FCC's effort was well intentioned "in that consumer choice in the use and dissemination of private information by their service providers is inarguably an important and worthy policy goal" but "ill-considered" in that the FCC does not have the authority to do what it did.

"Rather than fashioning rules that are technology-neutral and that resemble the ground rules that govern all other U.S. companies, including the FTC framework that effectively policed ISPs until last year, the NPRM ventures far afield of all existing federal or state privacy and data security regimes," the group said.

The FCC is proposing to require ISPs to get affirmative (opt in) permission from subs to share information with third parties in most instances, a requirement not placed on edge providers like Google and Facebook for their own data collection and monetizing.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says the FCC can't regulate edge privacy, but does have the authority to regulate ISP's  treatment of broadband customer proprietary network information (CPNI)—thanks to reclassifying ISPs as common carriers—and needs to exercise that authority via new rules to protect consumers.

But ITTA says it won't do that. "[These proposals would not advance their stated goal of enhancing consumer choice and privacy, but rather would limit consumers’ choices, sow confusion regarding the breadth of protection afforded to their private information, and ultimately increase consumers’ cost of service and inhibit ISP investment and competition between ISPs and edge providers."