Last night the Center for Democracy & Technology held its annual dinner (a.k.a. the “Tech Prom”) in Washington, D.C., where FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was featured as the keynote speaker. Wheeler’s remarks came on the heels of the Commission’s vote to adopt new open Internet rules, which are expected to provide the agency with broader authority over consumer privacy, as well as the means to enforce it. The Chairman’s message was presented in the form of a conversation with CDT’s President Nuala O’Connor, who prompted discussions about the FCC’s role in protecting consumer privacy. While giving a nod to the “great work” that the Federal Trade Commission has done in this space, Wheeler reminded the packed ballroom that the FCC “didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.” Through CALEA, CPNI, and the activities associated with the FCC sponsored Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), Wheeler said the agency has been working to protect consumer privacy in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.
Exactly what the new open Internet rules will say about consumer privacy and the FCC’s role is still unclear, as we wait for the 300+ page order to be released (and the corresponding dissents). However, taking a page from the FTC, Wheeler announced that the FCC would be holding a workshop on these issues next month.