On Tuesday, Motherboard published an article exposing the jaw-dropping ease of data collection and commercialization practices that can allow a stranger to find a cell phone’s location with just a phone number and $300. Motherboard’s investigation found that telecommunications companies, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, would sell location data with an aggregator, which sold the data to MicroBilt, which then sold it to a Motherboard investigator for “dirt cheap.”
Today, Public Knowledge Foundation joined 17 other organizations to form the Broadband Connects America coalition. The Coalition is comprised of a wide range of consumer, rural, and social justice organizations committed to closing the digital divide. Coinciding with today’s launch, Broadband Connects America released the Principles to Connect Rural America -- five principles to serve as a foundation for policymakers and advocates to promote policies that work to bring broadband to millions of rural Americans.
Today, Public Knowledge launched a new white paper, “Principles for Privacy Legislation: Putting People Back in Control of Their Information,” by Senior Vice President Harold Feld. The paper recommends four guiding principles for Congress to consider before crafting any online privacy legislation in order to create the strongest protections for consumers.
When people use the internet, they provide a vast amount of personal, often sensitive information. Ill-protected personal information can result in anything from predatory advertising to fraud. Consumers need strong rules and aggressive agencies to protect their online privacy. The Federal Communications Commission is the agency in charge of implementing and enforcing communications law and regulations. The FCC is ideally situated to protect consumers’ information on communications networks, considering its success in protecting subscribers’ privacy in other areas such as telephone and cable networks.
Ever since Congress repealed the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband privacy rules, consumers have expressed outrage over their lack of privacy protections when accessing broadband networks. The FCC’s rules prevented broadband providers from sharing sensitive customer information without permission. Repealing these privacy rules left a significant gap in consumer protection in the internet ecosystem.