Focus Areas:    Data Security | FCC | FTC | Privacy

Letter of ICLE, Concerning Deviations from the FTC’s Privacy Framework in the Chairman’s Fact Sheet, Proposed Rules for Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services, FCC

Letter from Geoffrey A. Manne, Exec. Director, International Center for Law & Economics, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission (Oct. 20, 2016).

Summary

“Dear Ms. Dortch:

I write to express my concerns regarding the consumer welfare effects of the revised broadband privacy proposal summarized in a Fact Sheet by Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this month. While the Fact Sheet appears to indicate that the Chairman’s revised proposal includes some welcome changes from the initial broadband privacy NPRM adopted by the Commission this Spring, it also raises a number of problematic issues that merit the Commission’s attention before final rules are
adopted.

While the Fact Sheet asserts that the Chairman’s new proposal is “in harmony” with the privacy framework outlined by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) (as well as the Administration’s proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights), the purported changes in this regard are merely rhetorical, and do not, in fact, amount to a substantive alignment of the
Chairman’s proposed approach with that of the FTC.

  • First, unlike the FTC’s framework, the proposal described by the Fact Sheet ignores the crucial role of “context” in determining the appropriate level of consumer choice before affected companies may use consumer data, instead taking a rigid approach that would stifle innovation and harm consumers.
  • Second, the Fact Sheet significantly expands the scope of information that would be considered “sensitive” well beyond that contemplated by the FTC, imposing onerous and unnecessary consumer consent obligations that would deter welfare-enhancing uses of data.

I agree with the Chairman that, if adopted, the FCC’s rule should align with the FTC’s. But the proposed rule reflected in the Fact Sheet does not. I urge the Commission to ensure that these important deviations from the FTC’s framework are addressed before moving forward with adopting any broadband privacy rules…”

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