AT&T: FCC Likely Turning Deaf Ear to Privacy Comments

Suggests majority has already made up its mind
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ATT (Bill Bradford).jpg

AT&T is filing its official comments at the FCC Friday on the commission's broadband privacy proposal, but it already suggests the FCC has made up its mind and probably won't take them into account.

AT&T plans to say that the proposal will create consumer confusion, consumer costs, decrease investment, and do nothing to promote consumer privacy since the Googles and Facebooks of the world, who are the clear "market leaders" in tracking and monetizing consumer data, will not be subject to similar constraints.

In fact, AT&T executive Bob Quinn already said it in a blog post in advance of its comments entitled "The Privacy Misdirection."

The FCC is proposing to require ISPs to get affirmative permission from every sub before they share data with third parties. Edge providers are under no such requirement and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly said the FCC isn't authorized to regulate edge privacy and won't do so.

Search and social media platforms are subject to Federal Trade Commission enforcement of their voluntary privacy policies, a model AT&T and cable ISPs have suggested the FCC adopt, rather than come up with prescriptive rules.

Quinn said that the NPRM's conclusion "that ISPs are uniquely in a position to develop highly detailed and comprehensive profiles of their customers" is "just not true."

But having said all that in its blog, AT&T appears pretty much resigned to what it signals is a foreordained conclusion.

"As the FCC appears to have already made up its mind about, most if not all of these rules, these concerns probably will fall upon deaf ears.  It’s striking that Peter Swire’s paper – 'on the different data collection capabilities of all the platforms operating in the internet ecosystem' – was neither referenced nor cited in the NPRM."

Quinn was already predicting the outcome.

"I will predict today that the result will be more regulation for US companies abroad and more expensive broadband for U.S. consumers domestically," it said.