Federal regulators (FCC) have approved unprecedented new rules to ensure that broadband providers do not abuse their customers' personal information generated while using the Internet. The rules, passed Thursday, require Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to obtain their customers' explicit consent before using or sharing that behavioral data with third parties, such as marketing firms.
The content of emails and other digital messages are also required to be protected. The rules also force service providers to tell consumers clearly what data they collect and why, as well as to take steps to notify customers of data breaches. This way, he FCC is seeking to bring Internet providers' conduct in line with that of traditional telephone companies that have historically obeyed strict prohibitions on the unauthorized use or sale of call data. The new regulations does not require broadband providers to ask permission before using the data themselves in certain ways , such as providing broadband service. Consumer advocates say it's a step in the right direction. On the other side, a trade association for the cable industry criticized the regulations Thursday as “profoundly disappointing.”