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ISPs push back on privacy

News, 19 October 2016

NEW YORK: Internet service providers are lobbying against proposed new privacy rules from the Federal Communications Commission that would require them to seek the explicit consent of users before their app usage and web history could be used for ad targeting.

Such restrictions are not placed on the likes of Google and Facebook, however, which do not seek such consent – except in the case of particularly sensitive data such as exact geolocation information, financial account numbers and health-care data – but which do allow people to opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads.

According to MediaPost, AT&T, Comcast and T-Mobile have now officially asked the FCC to step back from implementing the proposals and to ensure a level playing field among all players.

Joan Marsh, vice president at AT&T is reported to have told the commission that its customers "do not expect different rules to apply to the various entities within the internet ecosystem".

And T-Mobile and Comcast have submitted that broadband providers should be able to draw on their subscribers' non-sensitive web-browsing and app usage history for ad targeting purposes, on the same opt-out basis as the internet giants.

The counter-argument is that the new rules are necessary because ISPs have access to more data about consumers than any single search engine, social network or other web company.

Meanwhile the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) last week announced it would begin enforcing the industry's privacy code for cross-device tracking in February 2017.

"With today's consumers using five to six connected devices per day, marketers are striving to know their customers across devices to deliver relevant and engaging offers," said Tom Benton, DMA's CEO.

DAA cross-device guidance explains how the organization's principles, which seek to provide consumers with enhanced notice and choice about such data collection and use, apply to both browser- and app-based choices made by a consumer to data collected on that browser or device for use elsewhere.

It also confirms that consumer choice applies to data collected elsewhere for use on that browser or device.

Data sourced from MediaPost, DAA; additional content by Warc staff