Monday, November 09, 2015

:: "The Commission has been unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers."

In Re Consumer Watchdog Petition for Rulemaking toRequire Edge Providers to Honor ‘Do Not Track’Requests Released: November 6, 2015

1. In this Order, we dismiss Consumer Watchdog’s request that the Commission “initiate arulemaking proceeding requiring ‘edge providers’ (like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn) to honor ‘Do Not Track’ Requests from consumers.” 1 The Commission has been unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers.

2 We therefore find that, pursuant to section 1.401(e) of our rules, the Consumer Watchdog Petition “plainly do[es] not warrant consideration by the Commission.”3 2. Section 222 of the Communications Act governs telecommunications carriers’ protection and use of information obtained from their customers or other carriers, and calibrates the protection of such information based on its sensitivity. The Commission has adopted rules implementing section 222’s privacy protections with respect to providers of voice services, has amended those rules over time to respond to emerging threats to consumer privacy, and has vigorously enforced those rules.4

3. Earlier this year, when the Commission reclassified broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, it declined to forbear from applying section 222 to BIAS providers. 5 The Commission found that broadband providers “serve as a necessary conduit for information passing between an Internet user and Internet sites or other Internet users, and are in a position to obtain vast amounts of personal and proprietary information about their customers.”6 Recognizing, however, that the existing rules were written for voice services, the Commission held it was “not persuaded that the Commission’s current rules implementing section 222 necessarily would be well suited to broadband Internet access service.”7 It therefore forbore from applying the section 222 rules to BIAS services, “pending adoption of rules to govern broadband Internet access service in a separate rulemaking proceeding.”8 At the same time, the Commission specified that in reclassifying BIAS, it was not “regulating the Internet, per se, or any Internet applications or content.”9 Rather, as the Commission explained, its “reclassification of broadband Internet access service involves only the transmission component of Internet access service.”10

 4. Consumer Watchdog’s request that “the Commission should, in addition to the CPNI rules it intends to adopt, promulgate rules protecting the authorized use of consumers’ personal information by requiring edge providers to honor ‘Do Not Track’ Requests” is inconsistent with the Commission’s articulation of the effect of its reclassification of BIAS and the scope of the privacy practices it stated that it intends to address pursuant to that reclassification. 11 We therefore find that the Consumer Watchdog Petition plainly does not warrant consideration by the Commission pursuant to section 1.401(e) of the Commission’s rules.

5. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 0.91, 0.291, and 1.401(e) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 1.401(e), Consumer Watchdog’s Petition for Rulemaking to Require Edge Providers to Honor ‘Do Not Track’ Requests IS DISMISSED.

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