Some Internet service providers are building powerful tools to track customers, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission needs to step in, privacy advocates say.
Some privacy advocates are calling on the FCC to create new regulations that limit how ISPs can track their customers across the Internet. The agency could release a proposal for ISP privacy rules as soon as this month, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said last week.
Some ISPs are deploying “invasive and ubiquitous” tracking practices as a way to deliver targeted advertising to customers, 12 privacy groups said in a letter to the FCC this week. In recent years, large ISPs like Comcast and Verizon have entered into advertising partnerships or launched their own advertising services that take advantage of ISP customer data, the letter said.
Because U.S. lacks a comprehensive privacy law, “there are very few legal constraints on business practices that impact the privacy of American consumers,” said the letter, signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and other groups. “The FCC has the opportunity to fill this void.”
Calls for FCC privacy regulation from privacy groups are setting up a showdown with ISPs and their trade groups, which have resisted agency action on privacy. For years, the Federal Trade Commission has taken enforcement action against companies, including ISPs, that violate their own privacy policies, critics of FCC action note.