Comcast: The FCC shouldn't touch charges to keep data private

Comcast: The FCC shouldn't touch charges to keep data private
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Comcast last week told the Federal Communications Commission not to try to regulate plans that require customers to pay more in exchange for not having their data used by their provider.

The company said it had made the argument in a meeting at the commission, disclosed in a filing published Tuesday and noted by Broadcasting and Cable and The Washington Post on Wednesday.

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“We also urged that the Commission allow business models offering discounts or other value to consumers in exchange for allowing ISPs [internet service providers] to use their data,” the company said.

“A bargained-for exchange of information for service is a perfectly acceptable and widely used model throughout the U.S. economy, including the Internet ecosystem, and is consistent with decades of legal precedent and policy goals related to consumer protection and privacy.”

The company also argued that the FCC doesn't have the authority to regulate such plans.

AT&T already offers a similar program in some markets. Customers who consent to having their data tracked by the company pay one price, and customers who don’t want AT&T to use the data pay $29 more. The company argues that this is a discount for customers rather than a tax on customers who choose the more private option.

Comcast’s comments come as the FCC weighs an item that would restrict how broadband providers could use their customers’ data without first getting their permission. In most cases, ISPs couldn’t use the data without their customer's’ consent.

Businesses have aggressively fought the item, saying that the commission should instead follow the standards used by the Federal Trade Commission to policy privacy violations. Privacy advocates argue that the amount of data collected by internet providers is much more significant that what could be collected by any one web service and should be subject to stricter rules.

Internet providers, some of whom have seen the limits of their core businesses failing to grow, have been thinking more aggressively about how to use the data they collect for advertising purposes.