In the world of social media, privacy has been a hot, controversial topic for the last few years, but Internet Service Providers (ISPs) pose just as much of a threat to our privacy as tech giants like Facebook and Twitter. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently launched a probe that will investigate what kinds of data ISPs collects from its private users, who they share it with, how it is used, and whether it violates privacy laws.
“The specifics of the information the FTC is looking for includes categories of collected data; whether the information is aggregated, anonymized or “deidentified;” data collection notifications and disclosures sent to customers; the amount of control consumers have over their information; and what processes companies have in place to allow customers to access, correct, or delete their data,” reports TechSpot.
The investigation will delve into the privacy practices of seven ISP companies: AT&T Inc, AT&T Mobility LLC, Comcast Cable Communications (Xfinity), Google Fiber Inc, T-Mobile US Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, and Cellco Partnership (Verizon Wireless).
The FTC attributes the need for this investigation to the fact that the evolution of the telecom industry from one of the separate entities to a more complex web of vertically integrated platforms. This makes it harder for the FTC to decipher how similarly or dissimilarly the companies operate regarding privacy, which they plan to find out through the audit.
“The FTC is initiating this study to better understand Internet service providers’ privacy practices in light of the evolution of telecommunications companies into vertically integrated platforms that also provide advertising-supported content. Under current law, the FTC has the ability to enforce against unfair and deceptive practices involving Internet service providers.”
This audit comes only one month after the FTC announced the formation of the Technology Task Force, which is designed to monitor the tech industry and limit anticompetitive practices.