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The FCC Just Approved New Broadband Service Privacy Rules

October 27, 2016, 3:15 PM UTC
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks during a FCC hearing on net neutrality during a FCC hearing on the internet on February 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. The FCC approved a much-debated "open Internet" rule that bans broadband companies from charging to put online services in a so-called "fast lane." The Federal Communication Commission's 3-2 vote came amid intense political debate in Washington with backers of online services like Netflix, Twitter and Yelp supporting the effort and big Internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon in opposition. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Mandel Ngan — AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to adopt new privacy rules that will subject broadband Internet service providers to more stringent requirements than websites like Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), or Alphabet’s Google (GOOG).

The rules will force companies like AT&T (T), Verizon Communications (VZ), and Comcast (CMCSA) to get consumer consent before using some user data for advertising and internal marketing.

The final regulation is less restrictive than the initial plan proposed by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in March and closer to the rules imposed on websites by the Federal Trade Commission. Republican commissioners say the rules unfairly give websites the ability to harvest more data than service providers and dominate digital advertising.

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Wheeler said that by February he will propose rules banning internet service providers from using mandatory arbitration clauses to bar consumers from going to court for billing or other disputes.

Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, praised the new rules.

“These broadband privacy rules are the next logical step since enshrining net neutrality in our telecommunications playbook. These rules will ensure that as technology changes, our core values do not – that consumers, not corporations, have control over their personal information,” he said in a statement.