FCC Privacy Rules Would Harm Consumers by Creating Barriers for ISP Advertising

The FCC’s proposal would create unnecessary barriers to broadband providers’ ability to collect and share nonsensitive consumer information that could be helpful to ISPs for analyzing individual and aggregate trends. The proposed “opt-in” requirement will create uncertainty among broadband providers regarding the number of consumers who will choose to opt-in and likely discourage ISPs from offering targeted marketing deals, delivering advertisements and tailoring information to personally design the experience of their service, and/or creating free data programs for selective consumers. If adopted, these regulations would harm all Internet subscribers, not just those who avoid opting-in. If ISPs cannot cover the costs of offering innovative service s that consumers prefer because only a small percentage of consumers choose to opt-in, then they will refrain from offering such products. And because the FCC’s proposal requires ISPs to obtain explicit permission before they can use consumer information, they would need consumer s to opt-in before they can even inform those consumers about tailored service offerings. This loss in advertising re venue almost certainly will increase the price of broadband Internet access for all consumers.

The tradeoff between privacy and free content/information should be determined by the relationship between the ISP and the consumer, not by the FCC with a default opt-in mandate that can harm and confuse consumers.

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