Commentary

FCC Passes Broadband Privacy Rules, Prohibits Behavioral Advertising By ISPs Without Opt-In Consent

Broadband providers must obtain consumers' opt-in consent before drawing on their browsing history or app usage for ad targeting, under new rules passed Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission.

"It is the consumer's information. It is not the information of the network the consumer hires to deliver that information," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday at the agency's monthly meeting. "The consumer has the right to make a decision about how her or his information is used."

The rules mark a "common sense step," Wheeler said. He added that the order has the effect of "extending to the Internet the same kinds of concepts that we have for decades extended to the telephone network."

Privacy advocates supported the rules, but the ad industry and broadband providers lobbied heavily against them.

The FCC's rules apply only to Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon, but don't affect Web publishers like search engines or social networks.

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