Ad Industry Wants New FCC Broadband Privacy Rules Gutted Because, Uh, Free Speech!

from the helpless-little-daisies dept

We’ve noted repeatedly how Trump’s incoming telecom advisors have made it very clear they not only want to gut net neutrality, but defund and defang the FCC. That means rolling back all manner of other recent FCC policies, like the agency’s recently approved broadband privacy rules. While ISPs and advertisers threw a collective hissy fit about the rules, they really were relatively fundamental; simply requiring that ISPs not only make it clear what’s being collected and who it’s being sold to, but requiring they provide working opt-out tools to broadband subscribers.

ISPs and the advertising and marketing industry are already getting a running start on rolling back these new privacy rules. In a joint filing by all of the major advertising lobbying and trade associations, the advertising industry this week was quick to submit a petition to the FCC (pdf) claiming that the new rules aren’t necessary because the marketing sector already adheres to a “self-regulatory” regime that delivers all the transparency, choice and benefits that consumers could possibly handle:

“This ecosystem has functioned well for years under an enforceable self-regulatory framework developed by the Digital Advertising Alliance (?DAA?), which is broadly supported by industry and widely recognized as a highly credible and effective privacy self-regulatory program that offers consumers transparency about online data collection and a way to control the use of their online data by DAA members while allowing data-driven innovation to flourish. The DAA has been widely successful, with hundreds of companies and thousands of brands participating in the program, over 75 million unique visitors to its digital properties, reaching 35 countries and translated into 26 languages.”

And while it’s certainly nice that the advertising agency has translated its entirely voluntary privacy practices into so many languages, that’s not really relevant to what the FCC was trying to accomplish with the rules. The FCC imposed rules specifically thanks to the lack of competition in the broadband last mile, a lack of competition that lets ISPs and advertisers impose draconian new consumer surveillance policies the consumer can’t vote to avoid with their wallet. The FCC was particularly nudged to action by the discovery that Verizon and its ad partners were covertly modifying user packets to track users around the internet.

It took two years for security researchers to even discover what Verizon and its marketing partners were up to. It took another six months of heavy public shaming before Verizon was even willing to provide working opt-out tools. At no point did industry, or any of its self-regulatory apparatuses, stop and think they’d taken things a bit too far, which is why the FCC, agree or not, felt it was necessary to lend consumers a hand. The FCC was also concerned about a growing push by some ISPs to make opting out of data collection a pricey, luxury option for consumers, “self-regulatory safeguards” be damned.

At the thrust of the ad and marketing industry’s formal opposition to the FCC’s rules is an old favorite; the claim that protecting consumer privacy is somehow a violation of the marketing industry’s free speech rights:

“The Commission did this in a manner that unreasonably exceeds its statutory mandate by restricting a substantial amount of protected free speech counter to the First Amendment, and using a process that did not allow adequate notice and comment from interested parties.”

Of course, if you tracked the FCC’s privacy rules comment period, or the public debate over do not track, the idea that anyone has ever silenced the marketing and advertising industry is hysterical. Most, of course, realize that the debate over consumer broadband privacy protections has absolutely nothing to do with free speech (a claim ISPs also used to fight net neutrality), and everything to do with the billions that are lost when you have empowered, informed, and engaged consumers with the tools to protect their privacy and a few sensible privacy protections at their back.

Again though, this may all be water under the broader, privacy bridge. If Trump’s top three telecom advisors do what they’ve long said they want to do, the new FCC will look to roll back the FCC’s newfound Title II authority, and by proxy both its net neutrality and privacy rules (which rely on the new classification of ISPs as common carriers). And as we’ve noted previously, to minimize activist backlash this will likely come in the form of a new update to the Telecom Act — one that breathessly professes to protect net neutrality and privacy, yet is intentionally written to do the exact opposite.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Ad Industry Wants New FCC Broadband Privacy Rules Gutted Because, Uh, Free Speech!”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

“We’ve noted repeatedly how Trump’s incoming telecom advisors have made it very clear they not only want to gut net neutrality, but defund and defang the FCC. That means rolling back all manner of other recent FCC policies, like the agency’s recently approved broadband privacy rules.”

Is that really going to happen? I really like the idea of the complete annihilation of the FCC, but lets be honest. What is really going to happen is that the only fangs and funding left for the FCC will be those that help secure the monopolies and policies the industry has purchased for themselves throughout the FCC’s history, with only the citizens getting the shaft once again!

The reason I want the FCC gone is so that the problem can go back to Congress where it needs to go.

But it looks like this round of do nothing congress will be just as bad with Trump as they were with Obama. They might fight over a lot of stuff, but they sure to agree a lot when it comes time to send Americans the bill.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

First have to have a free-market for it to self regulate.

Care to point us in the direction of the free market? One has not existed in most of our lifetimes. I was born after the FCC killed it for the telecom industry.

What we see now is 100% the result of regulatory capture or oligarchy. Take your pick both accusations appear to be most valid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well nothing walks this earth as a 100% anything.

But there is more than enough regulation to clearly state there is are no free market forces of significance to make that statements you have ignorantly made.

The only people that want a free market are the citizens and start ups. Governments and Big businesses loath a free market and spend all day long getting people like you to agree with them.

That said, I definitely agree with a rather narrow and limited set of regulations. Right now regulations tell businesses what they have to do, when the only regulation we should ever have allowed are those that say what a business cannot do. The tend to work better for multiple reasons.

I would rather tend to the inconveniences caused be too much liberty than to the troubles caused by too small a degree of it.

If you think free market is a pipe dream… then you obviously have not been paying the least bit of attention to the damage general regulation has caused.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“But there is more than enough regulation to clearly state there is are no free market forces of significance to make that statements you have ignorantly made.”

Not sure what you are attempting to say, here is the post to which you responded:

“Free Market == pipe dream
Never has and never will exist because it is a concept, a construct intended to provide a model of the ultimate marketplace. The only problem is they did not account for human behavior which screws everything up.”

So, exactly what in the above quote demonstrates the poster’s ignorance? Please be specific.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others

Not in the slightest, while cramming all the ads they can through your connection counts as their free speech, blocking those ads isn’t free speech on your part, it’s censorship.

Why, it would be no different than walking away from some nutter on the street spouting obscenities, refusing to listen is no different than forcing someone to stop speaking entirely, making it clear-cut censorship at it’s worst.

(The above is more Poe than sarcasm, given the multiple articles I’ve seen where ad agencies were whining about ad blockers and saying that they shouldn’t be allowed, if not made illegal)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I imagine they will do a bit more than simply inject a few ads.

These types of psychopaths continuously need more exciting things to brag about at the cocktail parties. They will very quickly begin injecting fake news into your connection … hold on a sec.

Ok, I’m being told that has already happened. Back to you Bill.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...