FCC Data Privacy Rules Were Defunct Before Congressional Vote - Page 2

However, someone monitoring your activity can still find out you’re using Tor and of course, the National Security Agency might be able to figure if you are up to anything illegal.

But all of that might not be necessary. Carriers and the other ISPs all seem to have privacy policies designed to protect your information. While those policies may change, it’s unlikely because privacy is, if anything, an important selling feature.

But for your business, ISP’s privacy promises might not be enough. However, by now you’ve noticed that the major carriers also have business divisions that have different rules, different agreements and even different infrastructure in some cases. As a business user, you’re in a position to insist and get the kind of privacy protections you require and the ISPs and carriers are obligated to deliver it.

If you’re really worried about your business activities being sold for marketing purposes, then you can always avoid using an ISP at all and simply buy network access to the Internet. You’ll still need to use a carrier in most cases, but your contractual agreement with the carrier will set the conditions of use and one of those can be a company-wide opt-out.

The bottom line here is that this and other problems the FCC has been facing recently are to some extent the agency’s own doing. “It is worth remembering that the FCC’s own overreach created the problem we are facing today,” Pai stated in response to the congressional action. “Until 2015, the Federal Trade Commission was protecting consumers very effectively, policing every online company’s privacy practices consistently and initiating numerous enforcement actions.”

Pai also said in the same statement that he plans to have the FCC work with the FTC to ensure the privacy of consumers in a consistent manner. “In my view, the best way to achieve that result would be to return jurisdiction over broadband providers’ privacy practices to the FTC with its decades of experience and expertise in this area.”

Meanwhile other actions that were pushed by Tom Wheeler look to be ripe for elimination by either the FCC or Congress. The most obvious of those would be to undo the change to Title II for internet providers. This change was ostensibly done to ensure net neutrality. However, what really happened is that the White House insisted that the FCC make the change, which it did, despite being an independent agency.

Prior to that, the FCC had been working with the GOP Congress to produce bipartisan legislation that would have ensured net neutrality without turning ISPs into common carriers. That common carrier status complicated the FTCs efforts to regulate privacy, which was part of the reason the Wheeler made the changes he did.

Now, you can look at the privacy change as the first step in undoing Wheeler’s actions. Reversing the Title II change, and restarting the net neutrality legislation is likely coming down the road.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...