Leading Privacy Scholars Support FCC Privacy Proposal for Broadband ISPs

By: Jeff Chester | Jul 7 2016

We the undersigned privacy scholars support the proposal of the Federal Communications Commission to apply and adapt the Communications Act’s Title II consumer protection provisions to broadband internet access services. We commend the Commission’s much-needed efforts to carry out its statutory obligation and to protect the privacy of broadband internet access customers.

We agree with the Commission’s proposal and affirm the importance of giving consumers effective notice and control over their personal information by strengthening consumer choice, transparency and data security. In particular, we support the Commission’s proposal to require affirmative consent (opt-in) for use and sharing of customer data for purposes unrelated to providing communications services.

As scholars who have studied, researched, taught, and thought about privacy in depth from a variety of perspectives, we believe it is important that Americans have their privacy protected as they access, use and reap the benefits of the internet, the most fundamental communications network of our times. Privacy is a core human need, and citizens should be able to access the internet without the fear of being watched or of having their data analyzed or shared in unexpected ways. Privacy protections are a vital part of life for free citizens in a democratic society, and make society as a whole more vibrant, equitable and just. There are many ways our privacy is under assault in our age of fast-moving technology, which makes it all the more important that we protect that privacy in our bedrock communications system.

We welcome innovation and technological progress but do not believe in the necessity to advance them at the expense of privacy. Our fundamental right to privacy should not be sold off for short-term gains, and thus we urge the Commission to adopt its proposed rule, which would significantly advance privacy online.

[see signatories in attachment]

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