FCC's Chairman Tom Wheeler has spoken about the issue of set-top boxes and the reasons to set the cable boxes free for other providers, such as free streaming apps. Image Source: Reuters

The Federal Communications Commission offered a new and lighter version of their broadband consumer privacy rules after widespread criticism of an earlier version by internet carriers and tech firms.

General regulations would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs), to get consumer approval before sharing their customer’s data to third-parties. New rules are much more permissive as ISPs could share “non-sensitive” data without user’s approval.

The “non-sensitive” category includes a person’s name, and address and data plan, and “sensitive” data includes geo-location, children, health and financial information; social security numbers; web browsing and app usage history; and the content of online communications such as emails.

Chairman Tom Wheeler made revisions to the heavier restrictions he proposed back in March. After six months of debate, the Wheeler feels the commissions reached the best result possible.

Tom Wheeler addresing the audience at the FCC's main conference last year. Image source: Kosu
Tom Wheeler addresing the audience at the FCC’s main conference last year. Image source: Kosu

The FCC still has to approve the new rules at a meeting on Oct. 27

The regulations are generous to carries like Some of the providers are  AT&T Inc. (NASDAQ: T), Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), but less so with the clients.

FCC’s old plan would have required customers to opt in before their Internet service provider could share any personal information about them.

The new document distinguishes between types of information, just as internet providers had urged. There are now “sensitive” and “non – sensitive” data. Customers could opt out sharing their non-sensitive information and would need to opt-in before carries can share their sensitive data.

Google, Apple, AT&T and Comcast join FCC's Strike Force to tackle robocalls
The Strike Force met at the FCC’s headquarters on Friday. Image credit: AMS News.

Carriers should notify their clients about the type of information they have collected about them, how they could use it and what kind of entities will see that information.

The proposal also requires carriers to take measures to protect consumer data from any vulnerability. If a breach occurs, the rules would require ISPs to notify their users that their data was compromised.

Online privacy and customer data remains the debate in the industry

On FCC’s official blog Wheeler explained ISPs collects information every time a user goes online. They have a broad view of unencrypted online activity, including navigation hours and times, websites, and apps.

There are currently no rules about how ISPs may use and share their customer’s personal information, and companies are going rampant gathering information across the web and social media.

In fact, ISPs are not the only ones who could harm online privacy.  Social networks as Facebook already give a great deal of their member’s data to publishers and developers for target-advertisement.

Source: FCC