Sens. Urge Opt-In Regime for Broadband Privacy

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) was joined by seven other senators on a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler Wednesday calling on the FCC to apply privacy protections to broadband, including an opt in regime for ISPs using and sharing broadband consumer information.

The FCC has opened an inquiry into how to do just that given that its reclassification of ISPs under Title II shifts that broadband network privacy oversight responsibility from the Federal Trade Commission. The senators said they supported the FCC's decision to apply common carrier regulations protecting proprietary customer information.

Markey and company praised that effort. Also signing on to the letter were Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The senators had some specific directions for the FCC's inquiry.

1. "Adopt a comprehensive definition of 'Customer Proprietary Network Information,' which should include data pertaining to consumers’ Internet usage, online activity, and broadband service payments

2. "Ensure transparency around data collection by Internet service providers (ISPs)

3.  "Require consumer consent before ISPs use and share consumer information

4.  "Protect consumers’ information by requiring ISPs implement strong data security measures and notify consumers in the event of a breach

5.  "Create a clear complaint process at both the FCC and ISPs for consumers who have evidence or reason to believe their privacy has been violated."

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.