CAGW Backs FTC Model of Privacy Oversight

Says FCC approach is overly prescriptive

Citizens Against Government Waste is also against the FCC's proposed new broadband privacy regime.

The FCC majority has proposed requiring ISPs to get permission (opt-in regime) to share their customer proprietary information (CPNI) with third parties, including marketers, with an opt-out regime for its use by ISPs and their affiliates.That information could include what web sites they had surfed or movies they watched online.

CAGW, in comments filed at the FCC, said that the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking "seeks to impose a highly prescriptive privacy regime on ISPs....Compliance with the proposed customer consent requirements, which could increase both overhead costs of provisioning broadband and customer costs, is an onerous and unnecessary burden on broadband providers," it said.

The FCC deeded itself responsibility over the privacy of broadband CPNI, including what their subs read and view online, when they reclassified ISPs as Title II common carriers no longer subject to Federal Trade Commission privacy oversight.

The FCC then had to come up with its own framework, which includes new rules rather than the FTC approach--with its limited rulemaking authority--of enforcing company privacy policies and preventing unfair and deceptive practices.

CAGW says that if the Title II regime is not overturned by the court--a decision is expected anytime now--and if the FCC retains jurisdiction over ISP privacy, it should model itself on that FTC approach, which the FCC applies to the edge providers over whose privacy it does have jurisdiction, and over which the Wheeler FCC has repeatedly said it does not have privacy authority.

ISPs have been pushing for the FTC approach rather than prescriptive rules. The FTC itself has backed prescriptive rules but with more flexibility within those rules depending on the sensitivity of the information, with more "opt-in" protection for personally identifiable information, but opt out for less sensitive customer info, or what the FTC has called "privacy by design."