November 12, 2015

Feds rule in favor of snooping by tech giants

Google, Facebook and other tech giants should remain free to spy on you, regulators ruled on Friday.

A petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission by the privacy group Consumer Watchdog asked that such websites be forced to respect consumer requests not to have their online activity tracked. The FCC dismissed the petition, stating that it has been "unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers."

The FCC voted to reclassify Internet service providers as Title II utilities this year, placing them under laws codified by the Communications Act of 1934 and Telecommunications Act of 1996. Petitioners cited privacy provisions applicable under those laws in making their case, but the FCC suggested it was not ready to apply those provisions to websites until it held a separate rulemaking process.

In a statement, Consumer Watchdog said the privacy provisions "apply to companies like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and other ISPs." However, the group said, "much of the personal data gathered by those companies, which will be regulated, is the same information gathered by companies like Google, and Facebook, whose privacy invasive practices won't be covered."

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