The Hill, a newspaper covering Congress, said on Wednesday (Jan. 20) that as many as 50 groups, spanning digital rights activists and consumer groups, are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to begin the process of drafting privacy rules focused on the Internet “as quickly as possible,” according to reports.
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Those petitioners sent a letter directly to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, cautioning that the increased monitoring conducted by companies that offer and provide Internet services may have the consequence of ensuring a “chilling effect on speech” and that it would “increase the potential for discriminatory practices.”
The letter went on to state: “[These companies’] position as Internet gatekeepers gives them a comprehensive view of consumer behavior, and until now, privacy protections for consumers using those services have been unclear.”
The Hill states that the letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press and many others.
As background, The Hill noted that Internet service as whole was reclassified last year to a designation as a telecommunications service. In the wake of that change, the FCC then maintained oversight on how Comcast, Verizon and other heavy hitters dealt with, and deal with, privacy. The FCC has yet to begin drafting the rules that have been sought after by these groups. In addition, Wheeler himself put in place a fall 2015 deadline to take up those rules, with the eventual goal being moved further along into 2016.
The groups mentioned above have said in the past that the rules that are ultimately adopted should ensure that consumers are protected against the sharing and dissemination of personal data. Data breaches must be fully disclosed, said those advocates.