A group of privacy advocates have asked the Federal Trade Commission to act on a complaint against MVPDs' collection and use of subscribers' personal information.
The group filed a complaint a year ago charging that Comcast, AT&T and Cablevision (owned by Altice USA) were not providing adequate disclosure of their collection and marketing of customers' personal information gleaned from set-top boxes.
In a letter dated June 12, those groups -- Public Knowledge, Center for Digital Democracy, TURN–The Utility Reform Network, Consumer Watchdog, Consumer Action and Consumer Federation of America -- urged the FTC to act on the complaint.
An intervening court decision -- FTC v. AT&T Mobility -- cast doubt on the FTC's authority to act on the privacy practices of the non-common carrier businesses of common carriers; AT&T, Comcast and Cablevision are all ISPs under Title II classification at the moment.
But they pointed out in the letter to FTC chair Maureen Ohlhausen that the even-more-recent decision by that court has vacated the earlier decision, so the FTC is now free to act on the complaint, and should.
Related > FCC to Court: FTC Common-Carrier Exemption Is Activity Based
"You have underscored the important role that the FTC plays as an expert cop on the privacy beat, and now that the AT&T Mobility decision has been vacated, it is time for the FTC to do some policing." they wrote. "We ask that you now publicly and expeditiously resolve the pending complaint concerning cable TV and satellite TV privacy, an area of joint jurisdiction with the FCC."
Related > Court Throws Out Throttling Case Against AT&T Mobility
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last month agreed to an en banc (full court) review of its three-judge panel decision that left the Federal Trade Commission's authority to oversee privacy in some circumstances very much in doubt. The court also said that in the interim that panel decision was not to be cited as precedent of the Ninth Circuit. Such en banc review is unusual, but the decision had prompted a lot of attention given that potential consumer privacy impact.
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