FCC Attempts New Power Grab With Privacy Regulation Proposal
NEWS ANALYSIS: The proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sounds good and it contains some good ideas, but it would be more helpful if the move was actually legal.The FCC has dropped another shoe in its ongoing effort to regulate Internet service providers as if they were phone companies. The series of changes, which grew out of the FCC's assertion of the power to declare that ISPs now fall under Title II of the Communications Act, are currently coming in quick succession as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler finds new ways to regulate the Internet and its ISPs. This time, Wheeler has announced that he's circulating a proposal to his fellow Commissioners suggesting that the FCC begin regulating how ISPs use customer information. Basically, the proposed changes would allow ISPs to use customer information for billing and for additional sales of services to customers, but require that those customers opt-in for personal information sold to third parties. In a fact sheet provided by the FCC concurrent with the privacy proposal, Wheeler said that he was focusing on three areas: choice, transparency and security.
The idea is that consumers should have the choice of what information to share, that ISPs be transparent as to what's happening with customer data and that they protect that data. These are all actually good ideas, but the problem with them is that nowhere in the Communications Act has the FCC been given the authority to regulate privacy.