Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The FTC Is Investigating ISP Privacy Practices

Lisa Vaas, writing on Sophos’ Naked Security blog:

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday demanded that the country’s largest broadband providers hand over their privacy policies and explain what data they collect from consumers, why, who they share it with, and how consumers can change or delete it.

In launching this broad inquiry into consumer data-handling practices, the FTC sent orders demanding answers from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Xfinity, and Google Fiber.

One of the purposes of the investigation is to figure out how consumers’ data gets used to fuel targeted advertising.

Make no mistake: this is an important investigation to undertake due to the immense quantity of information passing through these ISPs’ infrastructure that can be used to target users.

Only one thing: the FCC — not, to be clear, the FTC, which has launched this investigation — created legislation in 2016 which would have required ISPs to get affirmative user consent in order to use their information for targeted advertising purposes. It was set to go into effect at the end of 2017; however, in March of that year, Republicans blocked that legislation using a rule that prohibits substantially similar laws from being imposed by the FCC.

In short, if Republicans in the House and the Senate weren’t such jackasses two years ago, consumer privacy would be better protected and this investigation would not be necessary.