The Issue

Consumers want their private information protected. They also want the ability to view free content and get online promotional deals. Many sites and services are free because companies can show ads to consumers based on their browsing history or preferences. The FCC is weighing a plan that could chip away these freedoms by requiring consumers to opt in before an Internet Service Provider could offer special promotions or share some preferences with advertisers. The FCC plan would treat all data the same, whether it’s your Social Security number or the alias used to post comments on a website.

Other federal agencies, like the FTC, recognize the difference between sensitive data (such as bank account information or medical records) and non-sensitive data (such as search preferences and streaming). When consumers share non-sensitive data online, it allows them to receive money-saving promotions or gain access to free online content.

The FCC’s new rules would also only apply to ISPs, and not Internet companies. Having different rules for different technologies will just create confusion. When crafting rules, the FCC should follow the FTC’s lead in how it polices companies online, and avoid burdening the delivery of services that consumers expect.

The same rules should apply to everyone.



For more information on Equal Privacy Rules please see corresponding references for Voices below.

1Zogby Poll: Americans Say Free, Ad-Supported Online Services Worth $1,200/Year; 85% Prefer Ad-Supported Internet to Paid 2Business interests and consumer concerns clash at Senate hearing on FCC’s broadband privacy rules 3Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services , WC Docket No. 16-106(PDF) 4Docket 16-106: Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Service(PDF) 5The Economics of Data Caps and Free Data Services in Mobile (PDF) 6Pew Research Center's Internet Project/GFK Privacy Panel Survey (PDF) 7Intel Security’s International Internet of Things Smart Home Survey Shows Many Respondents Sharing Personal Data for Money 8Laurence Tribe Speech on Privacy (PDF) 9Testimony by Peter Swire Huang Professor of Law and Ethics Scheller College of Business Georgia Institute of Technology (PDF) 10Regulators Set Their Sights On an Internet Industry 11What Apple’s ad blocking fight is really about 12Why Does The FCC Want To Limit Competition In Online Advertising?