What does your ISP know about you?

The FTC ordered seven broadband providers to disclose just what they’re doing with your info.

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday issued orders to AT&T, AT&T Mobility, Comcast Xfinity, Google Fiber, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Cellco to provide specific information regarding the collection, retention, and use of customer data. In its press release, the FTC states the orders are “to better understand Internet service providers’ privacy practices in light of the evolution of telecommunications companies into vertically integrated platforms that also provide advertising-supporting content.” In short, because each of these companies provide content as well as telecommunications services, the FTC wants to make sure customer data is not being used without permission to target ads or for any other purposes.

Specifically, the FTC is requesting the following info from each provider:

  • The categories of personal data being collected regarding consumers and their devices

  • The purpose for which the data is collected

  • The techniques used to collect the data

  • A comprehensive list of which data is shared with third parties

  • Any policies in place guarding internal access to that data

  • The length of time the data is retained

  • The notices and disclosures the companies provide to customers regarding their data

  • Any procedures by which the company allows customers to access, edit, or delete their personal data

  • Clarification on if the data is aggregated, anonymized, or de-identified

  • Clarification on whether or not the companies offer customers a choice regarding data collection

  • Clarification on whether or not the companies degrade or deny service to customers who opt out of data collection

The FTC asked the companies to submit their answers within 45 days. In the press release, the Commission emphasizes that “Under current law, the FTC has the ability to enforce against unfair and deceptive practices involving Internet service providers.”

“Apart from the possible implications of keeping and using customer data to deliver personalized ads, it is important to note that we live in an age where cybercriminals are actively hunting for your personal data,” comments Luis Corrons, Avast security evangelist. “Every day the number of security breaches grows, and it’s imperative that the collection and storage of personal information be limited both in how long information is kept and with clear permissions for how information is used. Specifically, rules must be created around encryption, safety measures employed to protect customers, and more. We must keep this conversation alive and present.”

We will be monitoring this story as it develops.

Avast is a global leader in cybersecurity, protecting hundreds of millions of users around the world. Protect all of your devices with award-winning free antivirus. Safeguard your privacy and encrypt your online connection with SecureLine VPN.

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