The FCC Just Made It Easier For Companies To Sell Your Information

from TNW

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is trying to block a privacy rule which would protect your internet data.

The FCC ruled last year that internet service providers (ISPs) would be required to adopt “reasonable” security measures to protect their customers’ data by March 2. Now Pai is seeking a stay on that rule.

One of the security measures companies will no longer have to abide by is getting consumer consent before sharing sensitive information. According to TechCrunch, the information includes browsing history, children’s information, location, and Social Security numbers.

In a statement, a spokesman says Chairman Pai requested the stay because he wants the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission to treat all online entities the same way:

All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another.Therefore, he has advocated returning to a technology-neutral privacy framework for the online world and harmonizing the FCC’s privacy rules for broadband providers with the FTC’s standards for others in the digital economy.

Ajit Pai has been open about his opposition to net neutrality since his appointment by Donald Trump in January. Whether this is part of a larger push to roll back legislation protecting said neutrality remains to be seen.

More here.

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3 Responses to The FCC Just Made It Easier For Companies To Sell Your Information

  1. Antoneta Sevo March 3, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

    Most of our world is connected to the Internet in some way. Whether it is to pay bills, order products from online stores, on social media, or anything when connected to the internet. Each website visited, everything that is searched, is tracked by other websites and companies. Those companies have access to all the data of the users. However, there are policies that they have that protect the user’s information. Each website has a privacy policy that consumers trust when they enter in their data. In the article “The FCC just made it easier for companies to sell your information” written by Rachel Kaser, it discusses how the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is attempting to restrict a privacy rule that would protect one’s personal data. Last year, the FCC ruled, “that internet service providers (ISPs) would be required to adopt ‘reasonable’ security measures to protect their customers’ data by March 2.” The chairman, Ajit Varadaraj Pai, is now trying to put a stay on that particular regulation. This could be potentially a big problem because it means that companies will no longer have to obtain consumer consent before revealing sensitive information. That data could include browsing history, children’s information, location, and Social Security numbers. If these types of information are shared, it could put consumers at risk.
    As an online user, I would want my information to be secure when I use the internet. I put my trust into the sites that I use and the places I purchase from to protect the data I provide. If this stay were to be enforced, it would put many consumers, including myself, in danger. According to, in “The FCC Seems Unlikely To Stop Internet Providers From Selling Your Data” written by Klint Finely, talks about how the FCC is handling privacy altogether. It states “Last October the agency passed a set of rules that would have required internet providers to take new steps to protect your private data from hackers. That same regulatory package would have required ISPs to notify you if someone hacked your data and to get your active permission before selling your data.” The FCC wants websites and internet providers to have similar privacy policies in order to make things simpler. However, this means that security will become less reliable. Internet providers will have less of an obligation to protect people from hackers. When the stay is confirmed and applied, it will have that effect. Consumers who trust their providers with their information should be properly secured. The fact that the FCC is willing to ban their own rules to allow internet service providers to easily sell consumer’s data is unsettling. Pai truly believes that by having a consistent security throughout all consumers is the best way to protect them. Though that sounds good, in practice it is not practical. The more protection we all have, the better. If there was a consistent method that did not lead to companies selling their customer’s information, it would be realistic. However, that does not seem to be the case. I hope a plan is constructed that grant consumer’s a great amount of protection.

  2. Carolyn Wyland October 28, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    I do not agree with internet service providers being able to share a user’s information without the consumers consent. I feel most people who use the internet daily (which is most of America) would have an issue with their providers having the right to share their information. I cannot understand the pros to allowing access to a consumer’s privacy without their consent except for the companies receiving it. I feel that the FCC trying to block the privacy rule from passing is not in the best interest for most citizens. I do not think it should even be legal for internet providers to share personal information.

    The only people that seem to benefit from the loose privacy laws for consumers information is the company selling and buying the information. The benefit these companies have is easy access to personnel information that can be used for target marketing. Even though companies can benefit from sharing consumer information is still does not mean that it should be legal. The chairman Pai does bring an excellent point that all online entities need to have the same set of rules. This could explain why the FCC wants to block the privacy bill because internet providers could not use consumer information but companies like Facebook would still be allowed to.

    The laws from the FCC governing internet privacy will be ever changing and continue to evolve with our society’s technology. I believe our internet rights should be the same as our privacy rights. I do not think my personal information should be able to be sold and shared with other companies because it is a violation of privacy. I also do not like how internet sites can track what people are looking at. For example, when going on Facebook it will show products that I had been looking at from another site. The internet sites being able to track previous browsing history is a separate matter with internet privacy rights, but shares the concept of where is the line drawn for privacy?

  3. KM November 11, 2017 at 10:04 am #

    The expectation of personal privacy has slowly eroded over time. As society has moved more towards being constantly connected to and participating in the online realm through the internet, we have slowly given away pieces of ourselves that, in the past, we stood a better chance of keeping private. Part of this is due to our own willingness to offer information in ways such as utilizing Google’s services, shopping online, and posting on Facebook, Twitter, etc. At this point however we are relatively backed into a corner because it is almost impossible to avoid many of the aforementioned actions due to how the economy and communications between individuals have changed over the years. Not utilizing the internet is not an option as it is essential to how we function, so we couldn’t really effectively boycott the internet to advocate for our personal privacy. This is why we need the assistance of government agencies, such as the FCC and FTC, to help advocate for us.
    According to Rachel Kaser’s article, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is attempting to block a previous FCC ruling that required ISP’s to protect customers’ data by adopting “reasonable” security measures. The new rule in short, according to an article by Devin Coldewey, requires that ISP’s obtain consent from the consumer before being able to use and share their information, but the “opt in” consent policy does not prevent the ISP’s from collecting the information in the first place. This information ranges from social security numbers, financial and health information, as well as children’s information. By blocking this rule, it allows the ISP’s to use and share our personal information and that of our children without obtaining our consent. According to Kaser’s article Chairman Pai claims that he is blocking this rule in order to “harmonize the FCC’s privacy rules for broadband providers with the FTC’s standards for others in the digital economy.” Why lower the standards of the FCC in order to “harmonize” with the FTC? Why not encourage the FTC to increase their policies to enhance protections of consumers? This is a critical part of both of the agencies stated goals that can be found on their respective websites.
    At the end of Kaser’s article, she mentions that Chairman Pai is also attempting to rollback net neutrality actions. Since the writing of her article, the FCC voted to begin the rollback of net neutrality regulations in May 2017. (Selyukh, Alina) This action coupled with blocking the adoption of “reasonable” security measures by ISP’s indicates that Chairman Pai’s interests reside primarily with advancing the interests of businesses over those of the consumer. It is concerning because it appears that the agencies that are in place, in part to protect consumers, have lost sight of their mission. This article serves to remind us that we must hold these agencies accountable and that as individuals we need to utilize the power of our collective voice by participating in the public comment period when agencies are developing their rules.

    Additional Sources

    Coldewey, Devin

    Selyukh, Alina

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