When consumers sign up for Internet service with broadband providers, should they be required to sign away their privacy rights? No, according to the draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated to the Commission. Chairman Wheeler’s proposed NPRM takes significant steps toward implementing the provisions of the Communications Act addressing information privacy (47 U.S.C. § 222) and is summarized in this fact sheet.

The draft proposes that consumers have choices – either to opt out in some instances or to require that the Internet service provider obtain permission before using and sharing the customer’s data. The proposed NPRM focuses on choice, transparency, and security. The NPRM notes that telephone networks have had clear, enforceable privacy rules for decades, but broadband networks currently do not. The fact sheet ends on a tone of flexibility, noting that, once published, the NPRM will also seek comment on additional or alternative paths to achieve pro-consumer, pro-privacy goals.

The Commission will vote on the draft NPRM at its March 31, 2016, meeting. You can view the meeting live via webcast through the FCC web site. If adopted by the Commission the NPRM will be published in the Federal Register for public comment.