Consumer Groups Back FCC Rulemaking On Internet Privacy Protections

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Watchdog today joined a coalition of a dozen consumer groups in supporting the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to implement privacy regulations covering broadband Internet access providers.

The coalition backed the FCC in a letter to the Senate Judiciary’s Privacy Subcommittee, which was holding a hearing on the FCC’s proposed privacy rules.  In the letter to Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Flake and Ranking Member Al Franken the groups noted that broadband access providers “have both the ability and the financial incentive to observe and monetize a significant amount of activity and content that consumers engage in online.”

“If consumers cannot trust their broadband provider to protect their content and personal information, the result could be an erosion of consumer privacy and chilling of online speech,” the groups wrote. “Commonsense protections may lead to a broader adoption and use of the Internet, as individuals gain confidence in conducting everyday business and exploring new services online.”

Signing the letter were: American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Federation of California, Consumer Watchdog, Demand Progress, Free Press, Open Technology Institute at New America, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and Public Knowledge. The letter continued:

“The FCC’s current proceeding is a direct result of its clear statutory mandate. As former FTC Commissioner Julie Brill stated, the FCC reclassification of broadband as a Title II service adds “a brawnier cop on the beat” on privacy issues. We are happy that the FTC and FCC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on consumer privacy highlighting the complimentary, but different roles and powers each agency brings to protecting consumers online. The FCC was directed by Congress to implement a specific framework of proactive, forward-looking privacy protections for telecommunications services. Without this sector-specific framework consumers could not count on the protection of their basic communications that undergirds other key areas of privacy, such as financial and health information.”

Read the letter here:

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John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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