Privacy

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
ajit pai, fcc, mobile, net neutrality, privacy

Companies:
ctia



Wireless Industry Lobbies To Ban States From Protecting Your Privacy, Net Neutrality

from the zero-accountability dept

In the wake of the Trump administration's decision to gut modest FCC consumer privacy protections and net neutrality rules, telecom lobbyists are working overtime trying to stop states from filling the void. In the wake of the FCC's wholesale dismantling of consumer protections, states like California have tried to pass their own laws protecting your broadband privacy rights online, only to find the efforts scuttled by AT&T, Verizon and Comcast lobbyists, who've been more than happy to spread all manner of disinformation as to what the rules did or didn't do.

Worried that states might actually stand up for consumers in the wake of the looming attack on net neutrality, both Verizon and Comcast have been lobbying the FCC to ban states from protecting your privacy and net neutrality. The two companies were also joined this week by the wireless industry's biggest lobbying and policy organization, the CTIA. In an ex parte filing (pdf) with the FCC, wireless carriers whine about how unfair it is that states attempted to protect user privacy after the federal government made it clear it had no such interest:

"Earlier this year, legislators in various states attempted to countermand Congressional action on broadband privacy regulations. When states and localities are provided a wide berth to test the boundaries of what is or is not consistent with Congressional objectives, the Commission and the courts are forced to evaluate regulations case-by-case, with broadband providers subject to a patchwork of mandates at issue during the review."

Like Comcast and Verizon, the wireless industry would have you forget that states wouldn't be running to create discordant privacy protections if these same lobbyists hadn't just successfully killed modest federal rules. This is a problem caused entirely by lobbyists for some of the least competitive companies in America. Said lobbyists would also have you ignore the fact that when California presented a fairly modest EFF approved replacement that could be used as a template for other states -- they made up a whole bunch of bullshit to scuttle the effort.

Most importantly these folks would have you ignore that they're perfectly fine with states writing shitty, protectionist regulations designed solely to protect uncompetitive duopolists, but state legislation that actually attempts to protect consumers is just a bridge too far. When critics suggest that maybe giant ISPs shouldn't get to write awful state laws, said ISPs will often lament an "attack on states rights." But here you'll notice the hypocrisy in having no problem dictating what local states can and can't do.

Further in, the wireless industry makes it clear it's worried that states will also try to protect net neutrality after lobbyists and the FCC vote to gut net neutrality rules on December 15:

"The Commission therefore should preempt any state or local broadband-specific regulation, irrespective of whether the state or locality claims that its regulation promotes or supplements federal goals. Thus, for example, state “network neutrality” regulations addressing the treatment of traffic on the network would be preempted, as would state broadband-specific privacy requirements."

The end goal is virtually no oversight for an industry that has proven repeatedly that it's incapable of regulating itself within the boundaries of good taste. From AT&T charging broadband users hundreds of dollars annually just to opt out of snoopvertising, to Verizon covertly modifying user packets to track users around the internet, these companies have repeatedly shown that there's no end to the privacy-eroding concepts they'd love to implement. Without any meaningful guard rails on the state or federal level, and only modest market pressure to behave due to limited competition, you can expect this kind of behavior to get immeasurably worse.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 6:31am

    Aren't they in a kind of catch-22?
    If the FCC can't regulate, then they can't ban, but if they can ban, then they can regulate?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 6:36am

    Proof

    Like I have always told you... telco WANTS regulation, just not regulation the protects consumers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 17 Nov 2017 @ 6:50am

    If only there was an American political party that feared Federal overreach... that championed States' rights to regulate themselves... that was appalled at the swamp full of lobbyists and special interests...

    Oh, wait. Never mind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 17 Nov 2017 @ 7:27am

    They'll probably succeed.

    Fewer points to bribe means higher bribes. So federal lawmakers will be sympathetic to bundling the competency for screwing consumers over at federal level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 17 Nov 2017 @ 7:31am

    When they propose these sort of things, our response OVER AND OVER again should be:
    "Why do you hate the American public?"
    "Why do you hate the American public?"
    "Why do you hate the American public?"
    Maybe we'd get an hones.... BLAH couldn't finish it.

    On a side note... literally. The Polsen XLR to USB adapter for 44 bucks is really cool. Power for condenser mics is the particular interest. Did I just click on an ad? I feel so dirty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 7:31am

    and members of Congress, in return for 'campaign contributions', will be pissing all over the States that want to do what those Congress persons should be doing anyway, protecting the people!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 17 Nov 2017 @ 8:01am

    I hope this will inevitably blow up in their faces long term if they succeed, by a new administration breaking up all these monopolist jerks and straggling them all with even more regulation then utilities like water and electric companies face.

    These kinds of companies are EXACTLY why more and more young people are turning against Capitalism and in favor of Socialism. They're the best advertisement of why Capitalism doesn't work, and Crony Capitalism run amok.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 8:49am

      Re:

      capitalism DOES work, safe guards just need to be USED and not left at the wayside

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 10:56am

        Re: Re:

        no, it's better to blame it on Capitalism so you can introduce something far worse.

        Don't forget who you are dealing with here. "Blame the wrong thing to get what you really want" is the name of the game around here.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Will B., 17 Nov 2017 @ 12:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why wouldn't we blame it on capitalism, hmm? This is late-stage capitalism; the ultimate result of the Quest for More Money.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 17 Nov 2017 @ 9:30am

    10th amendment hypocrits

    When Obama's FCC passed Net Neutrality, part of it was forbidding states to pass laws of protectionism in favor of ISP's and allowing municipalities to implement their own internet infrastructure. ISP's claimed that was unconstitutional because it violated states rights. Now they are pushing for regulation doing exactly that. The difference being that this time, it is in favor of ISPs

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 10:58am

      Re: 10th amendment hypocrits

      Both ways are unconstitutional, but we don't pay any attention to that document anymore.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 17 Nov 2017 @ 12:33pm

    You manage to miss the main issue, which is the risk of having a hodge-podge of privacy regulations (50 different ones) which would essentially be impossible to accurately follow.

    Consider someone who signs up for service in one state, and then travels and connects in another. Which state's rules would apply? What about a consumer who signs up in one state, and relocates with the same provider into another?

    Heck, what about mobile roaming?

    You would create a situation where the state with the most stringent laws would "rule", it would legally too risky to do any less. That would supplant the FCC as ruler in the communication world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      h, 17 Nov 2017 @ 1:44pm

      Response to: MyNameHere on Nov 17th, 2017 @ 12:33pm

      They didn't miss that at all. They just pointed out that that is the ISPs' fault for killing modest federal rules. ^.^

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Nov 2017 @ 11:00pm

      Re:

      If only they had addressed that issue in the article...

      'Like Comcast and Verizon, the wireless industry would have you forget that states wouldn't be running to create discordant privacy protections if these same lobbyists hadn't just successfully killed modest federal rules.'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 18 Nov 2017 @ 12:42am

        Re: Re:

        The passing mention, especially used only as a jab, really doesn't accomplish anything. It also tries to create a "one or the other" situation where that is not the case.

        The FCC rules were perhaps a bit too much, and (as Mike often alludes to when talking about other laws and rules) could have been over broad and had a chilling effect.

        Again, and I repeat this often: If you want proper rules that can't be rescinded because the FCC chairman had a bad burrito for lunch, then you need to get your congress critters (including the Sainted Wyden) to actually step and and do their f--king jobs.

        Done at a commission regulation level, they are always subject to change and cancellation. That is what happened.

        That there is no Federal law at this point doesn't mean that the states should have the right to regular communications companies. That is federal jurisdiction.

        The real answer is getting the critters to do what they don't want to do, which is actually work.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 18 Nov 2017 @ 5:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The passing mention, especially used only as a jab, really doesn't accomplish anything.

          Beyond undercutting the 'Oh woe to the companies, they have to face 50 potential different sets of rules due entirely to their actions in getting the single, federal set removed' argument you mean?

          How terrible that they might have to deal with differing sets of rules, if only there had been a single set that would have applied no matter which state they were doing business in...

          The FCC rules were perhaps a bit too much, and (as Mike often alludes to when talking about other laws and rules) could have been over broad and had a chilling effect.

          [Citation needed]. The rules were/are only 'a bit much' if a company is doing something it shouldn't be. A requirement to treat all traffic equally is not going to have a 'chilling effect' on a company unless they are picking favorites.

          A requirement that you have to clearly tell your customers what personal data you are collecting and provide them easily usable opt-out or opt-in(depending on how sensitive the data is) options for that collection is not going to cause problems unless the company involved is grabbing and selling more than they think their customers would be okay with or allow if they had any choice.

          They face 'chilling effects' from simple privacy and network neutrality rules in the same way that a con-artists faces 'chilling effects' from laws against fraud.

          Again, and I repeat this often: If you want proper rules that can't be rescinded because the FCC chairman had a bad burrito for lunch, then you need to get your congress critters (including the Sainted Wyden) to actually step and and do their f--king jobs.

          Your Wyden obsession is flaring up, might want to see someone about that.

          Of course, because as we all know once congress passes a law they never change or revoke it down the line, which differs from the FCC. If congress(which shot down pathetically basic privacy protections not too long ago) passes a law then that law will most certainly not be up for change or revocation down the line if something changes, and will most certainly be focused entirely on protecting the public against predatory companies looking to use their position to make a cheap buck.

          (It's worth noting that the FCC can't just change the rules on a whim, which is why they found themselves in court to justify the reclassification changes they made a few years back, and they will almost certainly find themselves back in court if they try to gut the current rules as they'll need to argue that things have changed to such a large degree that the rules should change as well.)

          That there is no Federal law at this point doesn't mean that the states should have the right to regular communications companies. That is federal jurisdiction.

          The companies are operating within those states. They are doing things that those living in the state object to and abusing their positions. Why wouldn't the states be able to step in and tell them 'if you're going to do business within this state you are going to follow our rules'?

          Of course if you want to go down that road then I certainly hope you will be just as energetic in your objection to those companies buying state laws designed to benefit them via keeping out any potential competition. If a state government has no business writing and enforcing something as simple as privacy protections then they definitely have no business telling another company that they cannot offer service just because the current company kinda-sorta-if-you-squint-real-hard offers service there as well.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            MyNameHere (profile), 18 Nov 2017 @ 8:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The rules were/are only 'a bit much' if a company is doing something it shouldn't be"

            Not really. The NN rules would, as an example, make it illegal for an ISP to accept a direct connection from Netflix or allow Google or Youtube to have their own gateway into their networks (not neutral, right) but which would have the effect of shifting traffic back to peered connections, which are generally slower and have more latency to the destination. Essentially, peering to an individual company would be illegal.

            it pretty much makes a mockery of any attempt at network management - and removes any incentive to try to make it better, plus shifts the burdens and costs to the ISP, and thus the consumer.

            Options for data collection should be more clearly defined and limited to that of usage. Why should an ISP have a bigger block against using your personal data than a credit card company, bank, or even your landlord?

            "Your Wyden obsession is flaring up, might want to see someone about that."

            Wyden is the internet go to guy in congress, and if that critter won't try to do anything about it, you should thing about WHY.

            "Of course, because as we all know once congress passes a law they never change or revoke it down the line, which differs from the FCC."

            Of course the can. But look at ObamaCare, every Republican is trying do hard to repeal it in some fashion, and even with majorities and the Presidency, they cannot.

            Ajit Pai will rescind Net Neutrality with a simple show of hands. The whole deal is very different. NN in law would likely be law for a long time to come.

            "The companies are operating within those states. They are doing things that those living in the state object to and abusing their positions. Why wouldn't the states be able to step in and tell them 'if you're going to do business within this state you are going to follow our rules'?"

            Telecommunications is a federal prerogative, not a state one. States cannot license radio stations or regulate interstate communications - or the companies doing them, beyond regulations that apply to all companies (say like OSHA rules). It's how the federal system works (or doesn't work, if you prefer).

            "Of course if you want to go down that road then I certainly hope you will be just as energetic in your objection to those companies buying state laws designed to benefit them via keeping out any potential competition."

            State governments can and do regulate things like power poles, wiring, and such. That is their prerogative. Again, that is how the system works.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 19 Nov 2017 @ 12:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Not really. The NN rules would, as an example, make it illegal for an ISP to accept a direct connection from Netflix or allow Google or Youtube to have their own gateway into their networks (not neutral, right) but which would have the effect of shifting traffic back to peered connections, which are generally slower and have more latency to the destination. Essentially, peering to an individual company would be illegal.

              [Citation needed], as that sounds remarkably like the scare tactic rubbish the companies whining about how 'burdensome' network neutrality rules are.

              it pretty much makes a mockery of any attempt at network management - and removes any incentive to try to make it better, plus shifts the burdens and costs to the ISP, and thus the consumer.

              Actual network management is fine, stuff along the lines of 'People use company X a lot, they compete with our service, so we're going to treat traffic to/from them worse' is not. They're in the business of providing a connection to what their paying customers want, if they can't handle that then it's on them.

              Options for data collection should be more clearly defined and limited to that of usage. Why should an ISP have a bigger block against using your personal data than a credit card company, bank, or even your landlord?

              They get more of it, and they're not just using it, they are selling it. If your bank or landlord are selling your personal information then there damn well better be strict limits and requirements that they tell you exactly what they are collecting and selling, and allow you an option to say 'no, you do not have permission to do that', or 'no, I want you to stop doing that.'

              Of course the can. But look at ObamaCare, every Republican is trying do hard to repeal it in some fashion, and even with majorities and the Presidency, they cannot.

              Because killing it is seriously unpopular and stands to impact millions of people in a very noticeable way, such that they face a very real backlash if they try. A simple 'modification' to a law regarding companies like Comcast/AT&T, 'clarifications' to the language would be trivial in comparison to slip through. 'You had health insurance last month, now you don't' is much harder to miss than 'Your bill was X last month, now it's X+', because 'screw you' price hikes happen all the time.

              Ajit Pai will rescind Net Neutrality with a simple show of hands. The whole deal is very different. NN in law would likely be law for a long time to come.

              And will then have to justify in in court, just like the last change was required to be justified in court. If it was really as simple for the FCC to change rules as you make it out to be there wouldn't have been such a huge issue a few years back, Wheeler could have just called for a simple vote, the vote would have been made, and he would have presented and started enforcing the changes immediately, all within the space of a day.

              Telecommunications is a federal prerogative, not a state one. States cannot license radio stations or regulate interstate communications - or the companies doing them, beyond regulations that apply to all companies (say like OSHA rules). It's how the federal system works (or doesn't work, if you prefer).

              'If you're going to collect data on your customers located in this state you are going to have to follow these privacy/consumer protection rules regarding that data' is not 'licensing radio stations' or 'regulating interstate communications', it's setting rules relating to how a company deals with personal information collected from people within that state by a company operating within it.

              State governments can and do regulate things like power poles, wiring, and such. That is their prerogative. Again, that is how the system works.

              So they cannot 'regulate' what a company that already operates within the state is allowed to do with regards to customer data, but they can keep competition from showing up to offer the locals service that actually works.

              Delightful. The states have the 'right' to help the ones buying the laws, but no 'right' to tell them 'no, you cannot treat those living here like that'.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                MyNameHere (profile), 19 Nov 2017 @ 3:46am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "as that sounds remarkably like the scare tactic rubbish the companies whining about how 'burdensome' network neutrality rules are."

                Preferential peering effectively creates a fast lane for the company you peer with. That would be a direct violation of Net Neutrality, giving a site like Google a speed boost over say, Duck Duck Go.

                "stuff along the lines of 'People use company X a lot, they compete with our service, so we're going to treat traffic to/from them worse' is not."

                For the most part, if the companies are using third party peers, there isn't an issue - they are all treated equally. The only real issue that came up (and the only reason why NN even exists) is because Netflix is a major bandwidth hog, and was essentially trying to order the ISPs to buy signifciantly more peering with Netflix preferred company.

                "If your bank or landlord are selling your personal information then there damn well better be strict limits"

                You would think, but you would either be wrong or mislead. In many cases, banks either get your approval by default when you open an account or when you obtain a new service of some sort. It isn't just opt out, it's often having to read a long document to find the clause that gives them the right and strike it!

                "And will then have to justify in in court, just like the last change was required to be justified in court. "

                Actually, maybe not. Removing a rule means there is nothing left to debate. It's empty space. The FCC's right to strike it's own rules is pretty solid. They will likely end up in court, but it's equally likely that the courts will tell whoever takes them to pound sand.

                "it's setting rules relating to how a company deals with personal information collected from people within that state by a company operating within it."

                An attempt to make a rule specifically for telecommunications companies (federal jurisdiction) would likely fail or get tied up in the courts forever and a day. Standard state rules that apply to all companies would likely apply, but that is no different from what it is today.

                "So they cannot 'regulate' what a company that already operates within the state is allowed to do with regards to customer data, but they can keep competition from showing up to offer the locals service that actually works."

                Good try, but no. The cannot regulate federal jurisdiction, but physical installations are a state and local issue.

                It's the federal system, it's not a question of helping or not helping. It's a question of state's rights versus federal jurisdiction.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 20 Nov 2017 @ 1:45am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Preferential peering effectively creates a fast lane for the company you peer with. That would be a direct violation of Net Neutrality, giving a site like Google a speed boost over say, Duck Duck Go.

                  Where have I heard that argument before...

                  The only real issue that came up (and the only reason why NN even exists) is because Netflix is a major bandwidth hog, and was essentially trying to order the ISPs to buy signifciantly more peering with Netflix preferred company.

                  Yes, of course, this was all totally Netflix's fault for offering a service that was popular... /s

                  I see the 'blame netflix for everything' talking point is alive and well.

                  Actually, maybe not. Removing a rule means there is nothing left to debate. It's empty space. The FCC's right to strike it's own rules is pretty solid. They will likely end up in court, but it's equally likely that the courts will tell whoever takes them to pound sand.

                  Incorrect apparently, there is actually a law in place to prevent agencies from just arbitrarily changing rules, which would include removing them.

                  You know, that very thing you were saying was the reason the FCC shouldn't be the one setting network neutrality rules, because they could just change them on a whim? Yeah, turns out they can't do that, if they make a significant change they have to justify it.

                  An attempt to make a rule specifically for telecommunications companies (federal jurisdiction) would likely fail or get tied up in the courts forever and a day. Standard state rules that apply to all companies would likely apply, but that is no different from what it is today.

                  Why yes, because the telecommunication companies hate having to deal with any rules that aren't in their favor, so of course they would sue.

                  However if that is the case then the the solution is trivial: 'From this day forth all companies that collect and sell personal data from their customers are required to inform their customers what is being collected, and depending on the data must provide either clear opt-out, or clear opt-in options for their customers. Yes this includes you too.'

                  Or would that be 'unfair' treatment of Comcast and company as well?

                  Good try, but no. The cannot regulate federal jurisdiction, but physical installations are a state and local issue.

                  And the effect of that 'jurisdictional limitations' you're talking about are...? Oh right, exactly what I described, where companies are allowed to literally write laws keeping competition out, but states aren't allowed to write laws relating to how companies operating within that state can treat information gathered from those living within that state, simply because of what type of company it is.

                  It's the federal system, it's not a question of helping or not helping. It's a question of state's rights versus federal jurisdiction.

                  The kicker is, if the jurisdictional limits were really as clear as you make them out to be then Comcast and their buddies wouldn't be freaking out so badly, running around lying through their teeth about how having actual rules in place to protect customer privacy would cause puppies to spontaneously combust, the seas to turn to blood, and everyone to get a hangnail on their right pinky.

                  They quite clearly think that states can in fact pass binding rules on how they treat customers within a given state, which is why they are fighting so badly to keep that from happening, and to get the FCC to step in and prevent the exercise of 'states' rights' in this instance.

                  For all your 'they can't do that' the companies in question certainly seem to think that they can, so I have to wonder why exactly they're paying their lawyers so much if some random person on the internet knows more than them.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MikeOh Shark, 17 Nov 2017 @ 2:20pm

    proposal

    Let the states pass a 20% gross receipts tax on all ISPs and telecommunications companies and sell them a waiver if and only if they sign the legal agreement to respect privacy and net neutrality.

    I think the states do have the right to tax. The net neutrality and privacy is just the price to comply if you don't want to be penalized. Use any tax revenue to subsidize public broadband.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Terrance Mann, 18 Nov 2017 @ 6:25pm

    Fast and loose

    with the facts as usual for Mr. Bode. Clickbait. Nothing more. It’s one thing to disagree with people on the other side. It’s another to completely distort the facts to fit one’s own narrative. Congrats. You’re just like the Trump-ites who whine about having the facts used against them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 19 Nov 2017 @ 12:50am

      Hitchen's Razor to the rescue

      Notably lacking from your criticism: Any details regarding what specifically he got wrong or how he 'distorted' anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PartTimeZombie (profile), 19 Nov 2017 @ 4:45pm

    Weirdos

    I came here to make some pithy comment about how you Americans have the best Government money can buy (or something clever like that), and instead I am forced to marvel how MyNameHere can spew out Verizon press releases like they're his own work, then double down when challenged.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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