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February 25, 2017

The FCC just rolled back some of its privacy rules, reversing previous positions

by John_A

Why it matters to you

While previous FCC rules sought to protect consumers from ISPs, the new administration doesn’t seem to agree with these guidelines

The FCC is under new leadership, and it’s looking to scale back some of the privacy regulations of the previous administration. On Friday, the newly appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission asked the organization to delay a set of the privacy rules that was initially slated to take effect next week. These rules in particular were meant to protect customers’ personal information from internet service providers by regulating how ISPs could collect this data.

In a statement, the new chairman, Ajit Pai, noted “the best way to protect the online privacy of American consumers is through a comprehensive and uniform regulatory framework. All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another.”

These sentiments are likely welcomed by a number of telecommunications and cable companies that have argued that the more stringent privacy laws put forth by the FCC put them at a disadvantage when compared to other internet companies like Google and Netflix, which do collect data on their customers, but are not overseen by the FCC, but rather by the Federal Trade Commission. Indeed, companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, have already filed a petition asking the FCC to delay other privacy rules that were previously passed as part of the Commission’s “net neutrality” overhaul.

More: FCC filings reveal that Google is working on a 4K wireless Fiber TV box

On the other hand, privacy advocates have noted that ISPs are more capable of collecting data than websites and other companies, as ISPs are responsible for providing the connections to those websites and companies. Moreover, consumer groups note, ISPs could use this data for their own purposes, or worse yet, sell it off for marketing purposes.

So keep an eye out, friends. The FCC is changing course when it comes to your privacy, and we’ll just have to wait and see how this one plays out.

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