Broadband Industry: It’s Unfair If Facebook Can Collect Your Data, But AT&T Can’t
by Kate Cox, Consumerist
Later this week, the Federal Communications Commission will be voting on a proposal intended to protect some of your personal data from being shared by your Internet service provider, by requiring that the ISP first get your permission. As the vote approaches, the broadband industry is trying to make the case that your ISP’s collecting and sharing of customer data is no different than Facebook or Google’s.
The FCC now has privacy jurisdiction over ISPs, thanks to last year’s Open Internet rule (more popularly referred to as “net neutrality”), which reclassified broadband providers as “common carriers.” Although the Federal Trade Commission still protects consumers’ privacy with regards to most services, the FCC steps in where common carriers are concerned.
The data-heavy services you use online — called “edge providers” in the formal parlance — know a lot about you. Netflix knows what you’re watching and what you’ve searched for. Google and Facebook between them know pretty much everywhere you’re going on the web and what apps you have on your phone.
But ISPs are the conduit for everything you do online, meaning they have access to a lot of potentially sensitive information about you.
While phone companies have long had access to “metadata” about your calls — what numbers you called, which numbers called you, when these called happened, and for how long — in the 21st century, there’s so much more information to collect.
Your ISP can access data about what sites you visit. When. For how long. How much data you move to or through them. What apps you’re using, on what operating systems and devices. And more.