As Expected, FCC Passes Modest Privacy Rules For Broadband Providers, ISPs Act Like World Has Ended
from the just-be-a-little-transparent-dammit dept
Over the past week, we’ve been talking a lot about the need for more transparency and user control for privacy on the internet, so it’s only fitting that the FCC has officially adopted its new privacy rules for ISPs that will require broadband providers to be much more explicit concerning what information it collects and shares with others, and provide (mostly) clear “opt-in” requirements on some of that data collection. This isn’t a surprise. It was pretty clear that the FCC was going to approve these rules that it announced earlier this year. And, of course, the big broadband providers threw a giant hissy fit over these rules that just ask them to be more transparent and give users at least a little bit of control over what data is collected.
Comcast has caused these proposals “irrational” and various think tankers paid for by the broadband providers tried to tell the world that poor people benefit from a lack of privacy. And magically new studies came out claiming that broadband providers are cuddly and lovable, rather than snarfing up everyone’s data.
And, of course, the various broadband providers want to blame Google for the rules, because everyone wants to blame Google for everything. The issue here is that the broadband access providers have these rules, while online service providers, like Google and Facebook do not. There are, of course, a few responses to this. The first, is that the FCC doesn’t have authority over those sites, like it does have over the access providers under the Telecom Act. The second is that users are much more locked in to their broadband access provider, and there is much less competition. Switching is much more difficult. The third argument is, basically, that Google and Facebook don’t have nearly the same history as the broadband access providers of really nasty privacy violations. Hell, just as these new rules were coming, Verizon was being fined for stealth zombie cookies. Finally, the simple fact is that broadband access providers have the power to spy on a lot more internet activity than Google or Facebook. Yes, those other services are in more and more places, but it’s not difficult to block them. With your ISP everything goes through their pipes, and unless you carefully encrypt your traffic via a VPN, they get to see everything.
Frankly, the new rules are not that crazy and shouldn’t be controversial at all. Here’s how the FCC explains them:
This isn’t that complicated, and should move broadband providers towards being more transparent and open. And if what they’re offering is truly beneficial then why should they complain about that? It’s only when what they’re doing is sneaky and underhanded and they know they can’t convince people it’s worthwhile that they might have a problem. So, yeah, guess why they were so opposed to these rules?