Today, online data flows seamlessly among various companies, including devices, operating systems, browsers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), apps, online services and advertising networks. Yet, federal privacy rules treat and protect the very same consumer data flowing through this complex ecosystem differently based solely on the type  of company that handles these data.

Different Privacy Rules Apply To The Same Data

Today, the same consumer data is subject to different privacy protections based simply on the type of provider (ISP vs Search Engine).

This unequal treatment is based on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent decision to impose new privacy rules only on a limited number of companies on the Internet, namely ISP’s.

For the past 20 years, the Internet has grown and flourished under the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) balanced and flexible privacy framework.

This framework provides strong consumer privacy protections, while fostering innovation, investment and new services. The FCC’s recent decision to impose different, and far more restrictive, privacy regulations

on only one segment of the Internet ecosystem creates a fragmented privacy framework for online data that conflicts with consumer’s privacy expectations, stifles innovation and creates unnecessary confusion in the marketplace. It also has far-reaching consequences for the entire internet ecosystem.

Consumer Confusion And A False Sense Of Security

Consumers want access to the internet and on-demand access to services and content. They   also expect their online data to be protected by a comprehensive and consistent privacy regime. The FCC’s new privacy framework creates confusion and gives consumers a false impression that their  data is subject to the same protections across the entire internet ecosystem.

Path To Seamless Privacy

A better path is to restore a uniform set of privacy protections under FTC oversight that apply equally to all online companies, including devices, operating systems, browsers, ISPs, apps, online services, and advertising networks. These protections should be based on the sensitivity of the consumer’s data, not the type of company holding it. ISPs have committed to protecting their customers’ privacy and safeguarding their information while policymakers evaluate how best to provide seamless privacy protections.

Consumer And Innovation Benefits

Adopting consistent privacy protections across all players in the digital ecosystem will benefit consumers by advancing uniformity that promotes consistency and clarity on the existence and nature of data privacy protections in the online world.

Uniform privacy rules will offer consumers a greater sense of security, and enhance consumer confidence. This, in turn, will promote greater online access that will spur the virtuous cycle of investment and innovation to create new Internet services and applications. Innovative platforms will enable societal benefits such as smart cities, connected cars, and connected health.



Download AT&T’s One Pager on Privacy: Need for Uniform Consumer Protections.
Download AT&T’s One Pager on Privacy: Protect Consumers Online Privacy Equally.