In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made public on January 20, 2016, sixty civil liberties organizations, including the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called on the FCC to use its authority to issue new privacy rules for broadband providers.
The letter cites the FCC’s reclassification of broadband as a Title II common carrier service as providing the FCC with authority to issue privacy rules for broadband carriers. In addition, the civil liberties organizations quoted a recent comment by Commissioner Julie Brill of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the FCC would be a “brawnier cop on the beat” for privacy issues with respect to broadband carriers. The FTC and FCC recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Consumer Protection that outlined interagency cooperation on privacy issues.
The letter requested that the FCC modernize its rules to protect consumers from “having their personal data collected and shared by their broadband provider without affirmative consent, or for purposes other than providing broadband service.” In addition, the letter asks for the rules to require notice of data breaches and for broadband providers to take measures to secure data collected from consumers. While the FCC has yet to issue any Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on privacy for broadband providers, it has enforced existing privacy protections for voice communications. Broadband providers can likely expect that they will soon have another authority to which they will have to answer in addition to the FTC in the area of data privacy and security.