The U.S. FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has finalized new rules that force all Internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain the explicit permission from their users, before they can share or sell their browsing data.
FCC Makes ISPs Acquire Consent from Their Users Before Sharing or Selling Their Private Data
These providers have the capability to track what sites their customers visit, mobile location information, applications usage and other sensitive information that is gathered during the service contract.
The new FCC regulations don’t affect platforms like Facebook or Google because they are not internet providers. However we do not know if the policy will be an effective measure for privacy protection in a long-term scenario as other laws and regulation instructions may partially obstruct the FCC.
In brief here are the new regulations from the FCC:
- All ISPs need to acquire consent from their customers before using or selling their sensitive data. This includes browsing history, app usage, location information and financial data. This applies to all third-parties for example advertisers and market research companies
- Internet service providers do not need permission from their subscribers to share non-sensitive information – IP addresses, email addresses, service tiers or bandwidth usage. They must also create a way for them to opt out if they want to
- ISPs don’t have to acquire permission to advertise other communications services
What Does This Mean For Users
To this date Internet service providers were free to track their users and share their private data. Practically all ISPs sell metrics to advertisers, market research agencies and other third parties. There are various effective ways of reducing this to a minimum, however there is no permanent solution and in theory (and in practice) users can still be traced and spied on.
However the new FCC regulations are a good bet that privacy protection just might get a little better in the USA and perhaps reach the levels of some of the EU member states that feature stricter control on how Internet users are protected.