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USTelecom Statement on FCC Privacy Rules

10.27.2016

Background: Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved new privacy rules that would apply only to Internet service providers.

The following statement can be attributed to USTelecom President Walter McCormick:

“When this proceeding began, USTelecom and many others urged the commission to harmonize its proposal with the framework developed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) given its years of experience with protecting consumer privacy. The FTC’s approach, endorsed by the White House, has supported innovation across the internet to deliver services that consumers want. The FCC’s partial revision of its proposal to more closely align with the FTC approach is a welcome change for consumers. Unfortunately, the FCC has chosen to depart from the FTC framework in some areas, for example, by summarily classifying all web browsing as sensitive information. This is a disservice to the goal of providing consumers with consistency in privacy expectations when they use the internet and poses a threat to continuing web innovation. The FCC’s argument that broadband providers have unique access to consumer information compared to other internet firms is simply wrong, as the record in the proceeding amply demonstrates. Furthermore, Chairman Wheeler’s commitment to pursue a proceeding to consider a ban on mandatory arbitration clauses in service contracts threatens to do a disservice to consumers who seek speedy resolutions to problems that may arise, and goes well beyond the agency’s statutory mandate. Fully harmonizing privacy rules around the tested and successful FTC approach would best serve the future of an internet responsive to consumer expectations.”