Tuesday, 22 August, 2017

Major internet providers say will not sell customer browsing histories

Screen Shot Comcast says it will not sell customer browsing histories
Lucas Bell | 11 April, 2017, 09:26

The bill, which has passed both the Senate and House and awaits President Donald Trump's signature, would roll back rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission last October in what Republicans describe as a "midnight regulation".

Broadband providers, meanwhile, said consumers had no reason to worry. It didn't cover web-based companies that track consumers, such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, whose privacy practices are regulated by a different agency.

The rules would have required broadband companies to acquire consent from customers before using or selling their personal data - like browsing history and limited financial information - for tailored advertisements.

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"We do not sell our broadband customers' individual web browsing history", Comcast said in a statement last week. The 45th U.S. President signed the repeal on Monday, shortly after the Republican-led Congress barely managed to pass the polarizing bill that was harshly criticized by opposition and privacy advocacy groups. The AT&T executive suggested that internet companies, operating system providers, web browsers, search engines, and social media platforms normally do these kinds of stuff, not ISPs. The organization also argued that such decisions would prevent the FCC from introducing similar protections in the future.

"Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were created to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers", Pai said in an official statement. Websites are governed by a less restrictive set of privacy rules. In one program, the marketers can access "de-identified information to determine which customers fit into groups that advertisers are trying to reach". In a blog post on Friday, he touted AT&T's privacy protections as "a consistent framework that focuses on the sensitivity of the data, not the service or entity that obtains the data".

"Consumers should feel confident that the steps taken today won't change anything other than clearing the path for regulators to institute uniform privacy rules that will keep their sensitive information private and secure", said Jonathan Spalter, the CEO of USTelecom. The reason is, most Americans "believe their private information should be just that". "Reversing these landmark privacy protections would be the antithesis of a pro-consumer administration".

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