ACA: FCC Should Follow FTC Privacy Lead

Whatever FCC does, smaller operators seek more time, fewer requirements

Among those singing the praises of a harmonized broadband privacy regime is the American Cable Association, though if the FCC does not follow along, it wants the commission to exempt its members from many of the requirements and give them extra time to comply with whatever the FCC does.

The FCC, having inherited broadband customer privacy oversight from the Federal Trade commission when it reclassified ISPs as common carriers, has proposed new bright-line rules that would require ISPs to get permission from their subs before sharing information with third parties.

That is different from the FTC approach, which, given its limited rulemaking authority, is to enforce voluntary privacy policies.

In comments on that proposal, ACA says it is "very troubled" by the approach, which means prescriptive rules for ISPs. It wants the FCC to abandon the prescriptive approach and harmonize with the FTC's more flexible regulatory framework.

But if not, it wants exemptions from much of the reporting requirements of the proposal given the particular added cost burdens ACA says would fall on smaller and midsized operators -- opportunity costs of diverting scarce resources, personnel costs, third-party costs and more.

ACA also wants a year extension to comply with whatever the FCC does.