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.