FCC Privacy Regulation Claims: “Believe it or not!”

With due credit to "Ripley's Believe it or Not!®,"so much odd and bizarre is happening at the FCC in the "name" of “privacy” that the topic calls for its own collection of: "Believe it or Not!®" oddities.

Title II Privacy Proposed Rules

The FCC claims consumer privacy is important, but preempted existing FTC privacy regulation of broadband providers before they had any replacement privacy protections in place, so U.S. broadband consumers have been left without any federal privacy protection for over a year! 

If a consumer asks the FCC if the private network information that the FCC claims is important to protect, would be kept private by any company other than the ISP, the FCC would have to answer: no!

When the FCC claims they have no authority to regulate edge platforms for privacy, they omit the fact that it is the FCC’s discretion not to do so, because the Chairman’s original Open Internet remand proposal would have given them Title II privacy authority over edge platforms!

In claiming the FCC needed the “strongest possible” Title II regulatory authority to protect Internet users, the FCC may adopt the “weakest possible” Internet privacy rules because the FCC does not want to apply them to Internet edge platforms where the biggest potential privacy threats to users reside!

The FCC claims users deserve strong control over how their private network information is used, but FCC staff rejected, without an FCC vote, Consumer Watchdog’s petition to give users control over how their private network information is used via a Do Not Track list!  

The FCC asserted Title II privacy authority over wireless by declaring the public switched telephone network and the Internet to be one in the same, while proposing to implement its Title II privacy authority completely differently, only for broadband, and not at all for Internet edge platforms!  

Since Google at the last minute got the FCC to exempt edge providers from Title II regulation and privacy responsibilities, a consumer’s broadband upstream traffic would be privacy protected, but its downstream traffic would not!

Some consumer groups publicly backing the FCC’s Title II privacy proposal appear to be more interested in protecting the worst edge platform privacy offenders from FCC privacy regulation than protecting consumers’ privacy!   

AllVid Set-Top Box Proposed Privacy Non-Rules

The FCC claims it is important for the FCC to have direct Title II legal authority to protect consumers’ private network information, but in the AllVid proceeding, the FCC is fighting hard to force consumers’ private video viewing information, to be made publicly available to edge providers, in direct contravention of the FCC’s direct legal duty to protect consumers’ video viewing privacy!

In claiming that the FCC had superior Title II privacy authority to the FTC’s, as justification for preempting FTC’s successful and longstanding privacy jurisdiction over broadband providers, the FCC is now claiming it can protect consumers’ video viewing privacy by edge providers when the FCC, in rejecting the Do Not Track petition, promised: the FCC “has been unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers!”

Internet Advertising Competition

When the FCC’s mantra is “competition, competition, competition,” and when Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report (p. 44), spotlights that Google and Facebook dominate 76% of U.S. Internet advertising growth, why is the FCC proactively protecting such dominant edge platforms from more Internet advertising competition from ISPs?

Strange but true.

“Believe it or Not!®”