Rural Broadband Providers Seek Extra Time To Address 'Commercial Surveillance'

An organization representing small broadband providers is asking the Federal Trade Commission for additional time to respond to requests for comments about potential online privacy regulations.

In a letter submitted to the agency late last week, NTCA--The Rural Broadband Association says the FTC's questions warrant investigation of a host of issues, including current practices, potential alternatives, and “anticipated economic impacts” and the “potential effect of regulation on industry innovation.”

The NTCA's request for additional time follows a similar call by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business and advertising groups -- including Privacy for America, Association of National Advertisers and American Association of Advertising Agencies.

The NTCA and other organizations are responding to the FTC's “advance notice of public rulemaking,” issued in August, which seeks public comments on a broad range of questions related to so-called “commercial surveillance.”

The FTC defined the term as "the collection, aggregation, analysis, retention, transfer, or monetization of consumer data and the direct derivatives of that information,” and set an October 21 deadline for comments.

The NTCA, like the Chamber of Commerce and other groups, is asking for a two-month extension, until December 20.

Several years ago, the NTCA -- which represents more than 800 rural and small-town broadband providers -- opposed Federal Communications Commission rules that would have required internet service providers to obtain consumers' explicit consent before drawing on their online browsing activity for ad targeting.

Those rules were revoked by Congress before taking effect.

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