Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) submitted a proposal designed to protect consumers’ privacy on the Internet. To date, Internet service providers have collected data on their users without express consent for such collection. This information is in turn used by outside entities to do targeted advertising. The practice has come under fire from groups who advocate for online privacy.
Change May Be Coming
In the new proposal, the FCC chairman Tom Wheeler spells out clearly how broadband providers must handle consumer data.
- It requires Internet service providers to get consent from consumers before data is shared with outside parties.
- ISPs must disclose that they are collecting data, what type of data, why, and when it is to be shared.
- As a part of a data security standard, they must take measures to protect personal information that is collected.
- They have 10 days to report data breaches to the affected customers.
Many Internet service providers are not in favor of this proposal, as they believe there is a slippery slope from this starting point to more stringent regulations in the future. ISPs especially have an issue with the fact that these new regulations are aimed at them. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and Google that collect consumer data for the purpose of advertising would not have to follow these guidelines.
The Effect on the Marketing/Advertising Industry
The FCC proposal allows for consumer data to still be shared with partners and affiliates, in order to advertise services that are related to communications. However, it taints the information that is shared, because only those who have consented to have their data shared are included.
It also opens up the field for websites that are not held to the same standard to charge higher rates for data that is more accurate and inclusive. That means that leaders in the targeted marketing industry like Google and Facebook will have an even bigger advantage over Internet service providers.
The Effect on Consumers
This proposal is good news for consumers. It provides them with additional protection for their personal information that was previously unavailable. It ensures that they know if their data has been compromised. While it is commonly known that websites like Google and Facebook collect personal data for marketing purposes, many are unaware that it is also being done by Internet service providers.
The new proposal puts the power to choose to be marketed to in the hands of consumers. Just as there are some consumers that enjoy targeted ads, there are many who feel that it is creepy and don’t like the sensation of being monitored. The proposal would be even better news for many consumers if it were extended to the websites who also collect and profit from such personal data.
With a vote to come soon and input from the public welcome, this is sure to be much shared about this new idea of online protection.