New York Sides With FCC In Controversial Proposal

In late March, the FCC approved a proposal granting broadband customers rights to control how their information is used. The decision was deeply divided with strong detractors calling it an overreach.

On July 1, New York attorney general’s office announced support for the proposal, but with suggested changes to tighten regulations.

New York Bureau of Internet Chief Kathleen McGee described a need for “enhanced regulation” in the policy.

“Consumers cannot avoid a BIAS (broadband internet access service) provider the way consumers can avoid (without penalty), or otherwise freely and easily choose between, search engines or other websites, or smartphone applications,” she said, explaining the necessity for regulations in the field.

McGee also explained some more specific changes the state proposed for the FCC, including making the privacy policy available whenever longing into a BIAS network, and alerts on the landing page anytime a change to the policy is passed. A similar policy for WiFi router manufacturers, including signal boosters, came into effect in 2013.

Other demands include making notifications multilingual for all ad pitches, sales and disclosure messages, and keeping policy language as concise as possible rather than using standard legal language, which is difficult for consumers to read through.

“It would be unfair to customers to use their preferred language to persuade them to purchase a product, and then use a second language to provide critical information about the collection, use, and disclosure of their private information resulting from that purchase,” said McGee, who advocated for the multilingual requirement.

The requirements are limited to ISPs, and will not be applied to edge providers – companies such as Google, Netflix and Facebook who provide web content and services.

The proposed changes are heavily supported by privacy advocates. ISPs, cable coms and telecompanies opposed the policy, calling it an unfair burden that isn’t applied to everyone such as edge providers.

However, McGee said that broadbrand providers have access to “an unprecedented breadth of electronic personal information including not only a consumer’s name, address and financial information but also every website he or she visited, the links clicked on those websites, geo-location information, and the content of electronic communications.”

The FCC will continue to accept comments on the policy proposal until Wednesday, July 6.

FCC hearing.