On November 2, 2015, Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Chairman, Tom Wheeler, indicated in an interview that the agency would take on the issue of broadband privacy within the next several months, most likely in the form of a notice of proposed rulemaking. Chairman Wheeler said that the FCC’s inquiry would look at the privacy practices of “those who provide the networks” (i.e., Internet service providers (“ISPs”)) and how such businesses are protecting their customers’ information.
Wheeler put himself in consumers’ stead, asking, “Do I know what information is being collected?” He also asked if consumers have a voice in determining how their data is used. Wheeler indicated that scope and choice of collection are “two very important baseline rights that individuals ought to have.”
In May 2015, the FCC issued an advisory indicating that, until the agency implements new rules to guide ISPs on how to comply with Section 222 of the Communications Act of 1934, it would hold ISPs to a “reasonable, good faith steps” standard of compliance in connection with the customer privacy protections of communications law. The FCC did not offer additional details at the time, stating only that broadband providers should employ effective privacy protections in line with their privacy policies and core tenets of basic privacy protections.
Chairman Wheeler did not provide a more specific timeframe during the interview for issuance of the FCC’s privacy announcement.