FTC versus FCC: Regulation of the Internet

Posted By: Emily Weiss

22495460709_9f99309cf9_oIn late March of 2017, the Senate voted to prevent a set of privacy rules from the Federal Communications Commission from going into effect. Privacy and Internet enthusiasts criticized the vote, and one Virtual Private Network service provider ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times that named the 50 senators that “voted to monitor your Internet activity for financial gain.

All of this might seem like the death of Internet privacy. The effect of the Senate vote appeared just turned certain regulatory authority over to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Internet service providers and other industry players welcomed the rule repeal, and have argued for consistency between the FTC and FCC privacy rules. Under the FTC rules, ISPs now have far more latitude to sell browsing data from its users to advertisers in order to provide more targeted advertising, just like online service providers, like Google, already can.

With this in mind, is the end of the FCC’s rule the beginning of the end for Internet privacy, and to an extent, net neutrality?

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Upstream Data Dollars

Posted by: Lauren Stewart

April 20, 2015

480px-Network_neutrality_poster_symbolRegardless of whether the FCC’s Open Internet Order is effective in regulating net neutrality, the reality is that the Internet is a free market, not free. It’s easy to agree with net neutrality: to want network operators to treat all content the same and not prioritize and broker in online traffic, but so long as the entities that run the Internet are not public utilities, they need to turn profits to keep the cables and servers connected. If competitively monetizing traffic is not an option, what is?

Selling online data is much like the still commercially available bulk mailing lists that fill our mailboxes with junk circulars and catalogs. Use of this information has many benefits: it’s efficient, passive, and customizable. But unlike your mailbox, the information obtained from online data can be very detailed and reveal much more than your basic demographics and geo-location.

We know that companies collect and sell our data to third parties. We hopefully understand by now that this is the basis of the bargain in using online services, particularly with the ones that are free. We expect and trust that our personal information is reasonably protected and hope and assume that the law and the government will protect us when service providers overstep our boundaries. These boundaries, however, are shifting in the age of big data. Continue reading

Net Neutrality

Posted By:  Chris Fong

 

net neutralityControl of information is hugely powerful. In the US, the threat is that companies control what I can access for commercial reasons. In China, control is by government for political reasons.

Tim Berners-Lee

Regulating the internet is not just limited to interactions over the internet. Internet regulations also include the control over access to the internet and the information provided through the internet. In the United States the issue of what can be accessed online and how to access it is a highly debated issue. Network (“Net”) Neutrality is one attempt to regulate access to the internet with the goal that all internet traffic will be treated equally.

Network Neutrality was introduced in an Internet Policy Statement by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) through the agency rulemaking process. In support of the FCC’s Net Neutrality, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, wrote in support of Net Neutrality a “To Whom this May Concern” letter to the FCC detailing importance of having Net Neutrality. Mr. Wozniak claims Net Neutrality is the reason information on the web is distributed in an unbiased manner and is accessible to everyone with a computer, in a designated area, for the same cost. Continue reading