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    MediaPost: FCC Broadband Plan Focuses on Privacy, Competition

    UPDATE: The FCC has released the full plan (pdf). The plan notes, “Increased use of personal data raises material privacy and security concerns. Almost half of all consumers have concerns about online privacy and security, which may limit their adoption or use of broadband. Better security and more control over private information may trigger a more robust applications market.”

    MediaPost reports on the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband plan (a summary (pdf) was released), which includes a privacy discussion:

    While the six-page summary was short on details, the FCC said it intends to suggest measures to “clarify the relationship between users and their online profiles … including the obligation of firms collecting personal information to allow consumers to know what information is being collected, consent to such collection, correct it if necessary, and control disclsoure of such information to thrid parties.”

    The FCC in January asked for comments about online privacy in response to a proposed notice of inquiry submitted by the digital rights group Center for Democracy & Technology. But it wasn’t clear until Monday whether the FCC intended to address the issue in its broadband plan.

    In January, Privacy Lives joined eight groups in submitting comments (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission recommending stronger consumer privacy protections.

    The FCC sought comments (pdf) “on the use of personal information, identity management services, and privacy protection against broadband applications.” The groups said that “substantial threats to our privacy and related consumer protection issues” can arise from the business practices and policies of broadband, mobile and other advertising companies.

    The consumer advocacy groups said: “(1) There are significant problems concerning the collection and use of personal data by companies, especially sensitive data and children’s data; (2) The FCC should not rely on industry self-regulatory models because they do not adequately protect consumer privacy; and (3) The principles and standards that should serve as the foundation of consumer privacy protection should be the Fair Information Practices, especially as they are implemented in the OECD Guidelines on data privacy.”

    The Journal reports:

    Now that the FCC is issuing privacy recommendations, early indications are that the commission might have incorporated standards that are fast becoming outdated.

    For instance, the summary released on Monday focused on a notice-and-choice regime for the collection of “personal information.”

    But Jules Polonetsky, co-chairman and director of the think tank Future of Privacy Forum, says that policymakers seem to be shifting away from the notice-and-choice framework — at least when it involves providing notice and an opportunity to opt out of targeting in lengthy, legalese-filled privacy policies. “Progressive thinkers in government are laying the groundwork to evolve beyond that mode of thinking,” he says.

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