Web Browsing History Protected Under Proposed FCC Broadband Rule

  • U.S. FCC Chairman Wheeler announces rules for vote next month
  • AT&T, Comcast, could lose digital advertising revenue

Companies that sell internet access would need subscribers’ permission before using or sharing sensitive information including web browsing history under a proposal announced Thursday by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The agency is to vote Oct. 27 on the plan by Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, to set rules that have been resisted by internet service providers led by AT&T Inc. and top U.S. cable provider Comcast Corp.

“The information you share with your broadband provider is yours,” Wheeler said in a blog post. “With the FCC’s new privacy protections, you will have the right to determine how it’s used.”

AT&T, Verizon Communications Inc., Comcast and fellow cable provider Charter Communications Inc. see that Google and Facebook Inc. have amassed riches by profiling web users and selling targeted advertisements, and they want to get into the game, too. Verizon, for instance, is gaining a toehold in the $187 billion digital advertising market with its purchase of Yahoo! Inc.

The FCC has authority over telephone and cable companies. Privacy practices of other companies, including web giants Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.

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