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Consumer Groups Demand Broadband Privacy Laws

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Jan 20, 2016, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Dozens of consumer action groups have petitioned the FCC to install regulations that would protect the privacy of the nation's wired and wireless broadband users. The groups believe broadband providers — including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon, and others — should be subject to tough privacy standards. These companies already collect an incredible amount of data from customers in order to serve ads. "This can create a chilling effect on speech and increase the potential for discriminatory practices derived from data use," said the groups in their letter to the FCC. Some of the signees include the ACLU, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Citizen. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler agrees that broadband providers need to secure any consumer data they collect, and should make sure consumers know what is being collected and give them the choice whether or not to participate. Late last year, however, the FCC shot down a proposal that would have forced companies to honor "do not track" requests. The FCC did not immediately comment on the group's letter.

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