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The FCC Just Approved New Broadband Service Privacy Rules

October 27, 2016

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks during a FCC hearing on net neutrality.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.