U.S. Broadband Privacy Rules: We will Fight to Protect User Privacy

In the U.S., Congress voted to overturn rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created to protect the privacy of broadband customers. Mozilla supported the creation and enactment of these rules because strong rules are necessary to promote transparency, respect user privacy and support user control.

The Federal Trade Commission has authority over the online industry in general, but these rules were crafted to create a clear policy framework for broadband services where the FTC’s policies don’t apply. They require internet service providers (ISPs) to notify us and get permission from us before any of our information would be collected or shared. ISPs know a lot about us, and this information (which includes your web browsing history) can potentially be shared with third-parties.

We take a stand where we see users lacking meaningful choice with their online privacy because of a lack of transparency and understanding – and, in the case of broadband services, often a lack of options for competitive services. These rules help empower users, and it’s unclear whether remaining laws and policies built around the FCC’s existing consumer privacy framework or other services will be helpful – or whether the current FCC will enforce them.

Now, this is in front of the President to sign or reject, although the White House has already said it “strongly supports” the move and will advise the President to sign. We hope that broadband privacy will be prioritized and protected by the U.S. government, but regardless, we are ready to fight along with you for the right to privacy online.

If these rules are overturned, we will need to be vigilant in monitoring broadband provider practices to demand transparency, and work closely with the FCC to demand accountability. Mozilla – and many other tech companies – strive to deliver better online privacy and security through our products as well as our policy and advocacy work, and that job is never done because technology and threats to online privacy and security are always evolving.