“WASHINGTON, October 27, 2016 – The Federal Communications Commission today adopted rules that require broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect the privacy of their customers. The rules ensure broadband customers have meaningful choice, greater transparency and strong security protections for their personal information collected by ISPs. The rules implement the privacy requirements of Section 222 of the Communications Act for broadband ISPs, giving broadband customers the tools they need to make informed decisions about how their information is used and shared by their ISPs. To provide consumers more control over the use of their personal information, the rules establish a framework of customer consent required for ISPs to use and share their customers’ personal information that is calibrated to the sensitivity of the information. This approach is consistent with other privacy frameworks, including the Federal Trade Commission’s and the Administration’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The rules separate the use and sharing of information into three categories and include clear guidance for both ISPs and customers about the transparency, choice and security requirements for customers personal information:
- Opt-in: ISPs are required to obtain affirmative opt-in consent from consumers to use and share
sensitive information. The rules specify categories of information that are considered sensitive,
which include precise geo-location, financial information, health information, childrens’
information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of
- Opt-out: ISPs would be allowed to use and share non-sensitive information unless a customer
opts-out. All other individually identifiable customer information for example, email address
or service tier information would be considered non-sensitive and the use and sharing of that
information would be subject to opt-out consent, consistent with consumer expectations.
- Exceptions to consent requirements: Customer consent is inferred for certain purposes
specified in the statute, including the provision of broadband service or billing and collection. For
the use of this information, no additional customer consent is required beyond the creation of the
In addition, the rules include:
- Transparency requirements that require ISPs to provide customers with clear, conspicuous and
persistent notice about the information they collect, how it may be used and with whom it may be
shared, as well as how customers can change their privacy preferences;
- A requirement that broadband providers engage in reasonable data security practices and
guidelines on steps ISPs should consider taking, such as implementing relevant industry best
practices, providing appropriate oversight of security practices, implementing robust customer
authentication tools, and proper disposal of data consistent with FTC best practices and the
Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
- Common-sense data breach notification requirements to encourage ISPs to protect the
confidentiality of customer data, and to give consumers and law enforcement notice of failures to
protect such information.
The scope of the rules is limited to broadband service providers and other telecommunications carriers.
The rules do not apply to the privacy practices of web sites and other ìedge services over which the
Federal Trade Commission has authority. The scope of the rules do not include other services of a
broadband provider, such as the operation of a social media website, or issues such as government
surveillance, encryption or law enforcement.”