FCC Proposes New Privacy Regulations for Broadband Providers

The FCC has announced plans to initiate a rulemaking that is widely expected to lead to the adoption of new privacy rules that would govern broadband Internet service providers.  If adopted, the rules would be the first imposed by the FCC on broadband providers, an area in which the Commission has historically not regulated.

Much like the rules that apply to telephone companies today, the proposed rules would allow broadband providers to use a customer's personal data to market its own services, and those of affiliates, unless expressly directed otherwise by the customer.  However, a customer's data could not be shared with third parties without express consent. 

The proposed rules would also create new requirements that would govern how broadband providers would have to notify customers, the FCC and, in some cases, law enforcement agencies, about data breaches. It would also create new standards for how broadband providers must act to prevent consumer data breaches.

Commission Michael O'Rielly has released a statement criticizing the proposal.  In his statement he said:

[T]he FCC is doubling down on its misguided and broken Net Neutrality decision by imposing troubling and conflicting"privacy" rules on Internet companies, as well as freelancing on topics like data security and data breach that are not even mentioned in the statute.

An FCC fact sheet on the proposed rules is available from the FCC's website.  The FCC is expected to adopt the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its March 31st open meeting.  It is not yet known how long the FCC will accept public comment on the proposed rules.