The Verge: Congress just cleared the way for internet providers to sell your web browsing history. “Internet providers now just need a signature from President Trump before they’re free to take, share, and even sell your web browsing history without your permission. The House of Representatives passed a resolution today overturning an Obama-era FCC rule that required internet providers to get customers’ permission before sharing their browsing history with other companies. The rules also required internet providers to protect that data from hackers and inform customers of any breaches.”
What’s the point then? The FCC will not force tech companies to honor Do Not Track. “Websites will not be forced to honor consumers’ ‘Do Not Track’ requests as the Federal Communications Commission today dismissed a petition that would have imposed new requirements on companies like Google and Facebook.”
The FCC has approved new rules to protect consumer privacy. “The rules, passed Thursday in a 3-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, require Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to obtain their customers’ explicit consent before using or sharing that behavioral data with third parties, such as marketing firms. Also covered by that requirement are health data, financial information, Social Security numbers and the content of emails and other digital messages.”
The Center for Responsive Politics has launched a new way to track political ad buys. “Users who visit the new page will see the most recent 100 political ad filings received that day, with links to download the documents themselves. The stations listed in those top 100 most recent filings each link to a summary page of the last 50 filings submitted by that station. At the top of the page, a box allows users to search using zip code or a two-letter state abbreviation.”
A bunch of tech companies are teaming up with the FCC to stop robocalls. We can only hope. “Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has asked wireless and wireline phone companies to offer call-blocking services to customers at no cost. The robocall strike force plans to report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on ‘concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,’ AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement.”
The FCC geospatial maps are getting an online update. “Since the launch of the original FCC maps site, a total of 53 maps have been published – including 15 this year – on topics ranging from nationwide LTE coverage to fixed broadband deployment data. To keep pace with the demand for more and improved data visualization tools, we’ve been working to update our maps site to streamline the publishing process and increase the public’s access to the maps published by the Commission.”
NYT Op-Ed: Don’t Hand Our TVs Over to Google. “Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission resolved to ‘unlock the box,’ requiring cable companies to give video streaming, programming and encryption data to companies like Google that make stand-alone alternatives to the traditional cable set-top box. Done right, this could unleash innovation and usher in a new era in which televisions become a direct extension of our online world. Unfortunately, the F.C.C.’s proposal threatens to replace one set of powerful gatekeepers with a new one: Google.”
The FCC is launching “nutrition labels” for broadband. Okay, they’re not really nutrition labels to tell you if a certain product will give you your daily dose of vitamin i. But the layout is similar, as is the no-nonsense information: “The Federal Communications Commission today unveiled new broadband labels modeled after the nutrition labels commonly seen on food products. Home Internet service providers and mobile carriers are being urged to use the labels to give consumers details such as prices (including hidden fees tacked onto the base price), data caps, overage charges, speed, latency, packet loss, and so on.”
The FCC is proposing new privacy rules for Internet providers. “The government’s proposal would limit how carriers such as Verizon, Comcast and T-Mobile can handle their Internet subscribers’ personal information — including their Web browsing habits, which apps they use and other sensitive data. If approved, the rules would significantly expand the Federal Communications Commission’s role as a privacy watchdog, giving it new ways to oversee an industry that increasingly relies on customer data as a source of business.” I just wish the FCC had a few more teeth.
The FCC has announced that it can’t force Google and Facebook to stop tracking its users. “The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it will not seek to impose a requirement on Google, Facebook and other Internet companies that would make it harder for them to track consumers’ online activities.”
The FCC has announced (in a DOCX file for some reason, sorry) that it will be releasing phone numbers and telemarketer numbers on a weekly basis. “The Federal Communications Commission announced today the Commission will release robocall and telemarketing consumer complaint data weekly to help developers build and improve ‘do-not-disturb’ technologies that allow consumers to block or filter unwanted calls and texts. The data, including originating phone numbers of telemarketers and automated robocalls, will be released and available on the FCC’s Consumer Help Center’s website.” I look forward to lots of lovely call-blocking solutions being built out of this.