Trump’s New FCC Boss Is Going After Your Internet Privacy & Truth-In-Billing Rights

Lori Erlendsson attends a pro-net neutrality Internet activist rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn/File Photo

If you were worried about your Internet privacy and how your ISP charges you for using data, brace yourself. Things look like they’re going to get a lot worse for consumers under Trump’s new FCC boss, Ajit Pai.

In addition to rolling back net neutrality rules, full disclosure on hidden fees and data caps are also being scaled back by the FCC (PDF).

DSL Reports broke the bad news on the new truth-in-billing rules on Friday.

The new FCC has taken its first step toward rolling back net neutrality by stripping away transparency requirements for smaller ISPs.

The transparency rules, included in the larger net neutrality rules, simply required that all ISPs make usage caps, fees, and other important details about a broadband connection clear to consumers.

But in a 2-1 partisan vote this week, the FCC scaled back these rules for ISPs with less than 250,000 subscribers.

That may not sound like a big deal for most people since it appears to target only smaller ISP’s. But the devil is in the details. If your ‘small’ ISP is part of a much larger conglomerate, it could serve as a back door for widespread consumer deception.

As Ars Technica points out,

ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers won’t have to follow rules that require greater disclosures about fees and data caps…

Sen. Ed Markey, (D-Mass.), said on his official website,

The exemption will withhold important information about prices, including promotional rates, fees, and surcharges from about 9.7 million subscribers.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, an Obama administration appointee, disagrees. In a press release (PDF), Clyburn expressed her concerns regarding a rollback of consumer privacy rights and billing transparency.

I am very troubled by the news that the data security protections of the Broadband Privacy Rule will be put on hold. What this means, in effect, is that consumers with a broadband subscription will be less protected because the only cop on the beat has been taken off their patrol. In an age of Internet connected everything, removing security requirements from broadband providers is needlessly dangerous for American consumers.

FCC chairman Pai suggests that the estimated 6.8 hours per year that is spent providing billing transparency information is a regulatory burden on ISP’s.

Today, Pai took the move a step further, siding with broadband carriers on collecting, sharing, and selling customers’ data to third party’s and advertisers.

DSL Reports noted,

New FCC Boss Ajit Pai says he’s preparing to eliminate new broadband industry consumer privacy protections, just as giant broadband carriers had requested.

It appears that ‘draining the swamp’ has a different meaning than some may have expected, especially when it comes to truth-in-billing practices and the right to privacy on the Internet.

Tell lawmakers what you think of their plans for your future by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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About Tobin 249 Articles
Tobin is a political junkie and animal rights advocate who believes that if people can stand on line to buy junk food, they should also be able to stand on line to vote. Tobin is the author of "Afterlife: The Journey of a Dog's Spirit" now available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0150RP9DA

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