Article Lead Image

Liberal senators ask the FCC for tighter privacy rules

They're disturbed by ISPs' vague privacy rules.


Eric Geller


Posted on Jul 22, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 7:38 am CDT

Nine U.S. senators are asking the FCC to pay special attention to consumers’ privacy as it applies its new net-neutrality rules.

Internet service providers have “a duty” to protect their customers’ privacy and the FCC should set bright-line rules for how ISPs can use people’s personal information, the senators, including Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

“Privacy protections ought to be considered a fundamental, built-in component of broadband service,” the senators wrote.

They applauded the FCC’s decision to extend a privacy requirement to broadband Internet providers when it adopted strong net-neutrality rules in February. But they asked the commission to supplement that decision with new rules covering five privacy priorities.

The nine senators, who form the core of the Senate’s liberal wing, want a clear definition when an ISP needs to get customers’ permission before sharing their data. They also want providers, which have largely avoided public data breaches, to implement a system for notifying customers if their data is leaked or stolen. And they want ISPs to tell customers in plain English what kind of data they’re collecting.

“Generally,” the senators said in their letter, “consumer information ought not to be shared beyond the extent necessary for the ISP to deliver the requested service to the customer.”

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter. In a June speech at the Brookings Institution, Wheeler said that the FCC would begin addressing broadband privacy rules in the fall.

Franken, Warren, Sanders, and Markey wrote to Wheeler two weeks ago asking the FCC to investigate broadband prices, but Wheeler told reporters last week that the commission didn’t collect enough data to satisfy their request.

Photo via tlsmith1000/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 22, 2015, 1:57 pm CDT