Wireless ISP Starry Says It Will Apply California's Privacy Requirements Nationwide

from the swimming-with-the-currents dept

Like Microsoft, wireless startup Starry — the brain child of Aereo creator Chet Kanojia — has decided to view the public’s desire for solid privacy rules as a marketing opportunity instead of something to ceaselessly undermine or whine about.

Knowing that the telecom giants they’re hoping to disrupt have an abysmal record on privacy, Starry has announced that, like Microsoft, it will be using California’s looming privacy law as a template for its business nationwide. While California’s looming law is admittedly under-cooked and needs some major revisions before serious enforcement begins later next year (it takes effect in January but won’t be seriously enforced until June), Starry, which is slowly pushing uncapped wireless service to major metro areas around the US, announced it’s going to adhere to its core principles in every state it does business.

That includes getting permission before sharing data, being transparent about what data is being collected and who it’s sold to, and giving consumers at least some passing control over what data is already stored (largely mirroring the FCC broadband privacy rules industry lobbyists killed in 2016). Both Starry and Microsoft seem to understand that after an endless sea of corporate privacy scandals and incompetence, the public wants at least some baseline privacy protections, and swimming against that sentiment is going to prove counterproductive:

“Inevitably, there will be grumblings that these common-sense privacy principles are too simple, or conversely, that they go too far. To us, this is a starting point, a baseline from where we believe all companies need to begin, not necessarily end, when it comes to consumer privacy. We prioritize privacy because it?s the right thing to do, even if it means we give up short term opportunities and shortcuts. In today?s climate, that can be a hard choice to make ? but it?s not.”

There are any number of companies (AT&T, Facebook) that claim they support the US having an actual privacy law for the internet era, but you shouldn’t be fooled. In reality, what they want is a law their lawyers write, filled with so many loopholes as to be utterly useless, with one real goal: pre-empting tougher, better state or federal efforts. They don’t really want a meaningful law, since any law worth its weight would inform and educate consumers, who’d in turn opt out of data collection and monetization, costing them billions.

It goes without saying that building a meaningful US privacy law for the internet era is going to be an unholy mess courtesy of Congressional Luddites and corrupt lawmakers and cross-sector lobbyists who’ll attempt to undermine the process at every conceivable opportunity. The alternative however is to just keep stumbling idiotically down the path we’re on, which as Facebook, Equifax, the DMV and countless others make very clear, involves giant corporations and government agencies routinely trampling your privacy rights then seeing little to no penalty as a result.

At least some companies seem to realize that swimming against the current is a waste of calories, the quest for some basic privacy rules are an opportunity to compete on privacy and ethics, and there might be some PR benefit in winning the support of a very pissed off US public.

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Companies: starry

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Comments on “Wireless ISP Starry Says It Will Apply California's Privacy Requirements Nationwide”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

A few questions

  1. How would one know whether they actually do what they say they will do?

  2. What would be the consequences if their customers find out that they aren’t in fact doing what they say they will do, merely lost customers with a smattering of bad publicity?

  3. Would the FTC know, or even care, if they were caught not doing what they said they would do and call it false advertising? No point in asking about the FCC, as they gave up the authority to act in such cases, unless of course they lose that case we have been waiting to conclude where the new ‘rules’ they are expounding are called bullshit and they have to enforce the old ones. Then, who’s gonna make them?
And you believe that why? says:

Obvious revenue stream – check
Price is in line with what I currently pay – check
Advertised speed is equal to or above what I currently have – check
Net neutrality is an advertised feature – check
No caps – check

Service isn’t yet available in my neighbor. Despite the fact I would ditch Verizon in a heartbeat if there was a viable competitor I don’t really mind. Waiting gives me time to learn from others whether or not Starry actually lives up to their claims.

Thanks to this article I will be watching. If I like what I see I will tell my neighbors so we can create a cluster on the waiting list.

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