(Adds industry reaction)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON Oct 6 The U.S. Federal
Communications Commission will vote on Oct. 27 on a revised
proposal for rules to safeguard privacy of broadband users.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's initial proposal came under harsh
criticism from internet service providers such as Verizon
Communications Inc, AT&T Inc and Comcast Corp
, because it subjected them to more stringent rules
than websites like Facebook Inc, Twitter or
Alphabet Inc's Google, which are overseen by Federal
Trade Commission rules.
Providers had especially objected to sweeping "opt in"
requirements under the initial proposal for using nearly all
consumer data. Under the new proposal, providers must only get
"opt in" or affirmative consent for sensitive data like health,
finances, web browsing history, child data, and Social Security
But it allows other data to be used with "opt out" or
implied consent for marketing purposes.
FCC officials said the new rules are more in line with FTC
privacy rules for websites.
USTelecom, a trade group representing Verizon, AT&T and
others, said it was concerned the FCC "is now attempting to
redefine what consumers may regard as sensitive" and might not
agree with the FTC's definition.
Wheeler said the FCC has long required telephone companies
to protect information associated with phone calls and now must
do the same with internet service.
Several consumer groups including the Consumer Federation of
America backed the revised proposal, as did Senator Edward
Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.
The FCC has authority to set broadband privacy rules after
it reclassified broadband providers last year as part of new net
neutrality regulations. A federal appeals court upheld that
decision in June.
Wheeler is working to complete an aggressive agenda this
year, including the privacy proposal, as well as rules to reform
the $40 billion market for business data services, known as
special access lines, and to allow consumers to ditch pay TV set
A person briefed on the matter said Wheeler was circulating
a revised proposal to reform the special access lines Thursday,
but has not decided whether to bring it up for a vote on Oct.
In September, the FCC said it would delay a final vote on a
landmark reform of the $20 billion television set-top box
market, which could reduce bills for tens of millions of
Negotiations among the commissioners were continuing after
the FCC's three Democrats in a joint statement last week
expressed support for letting consumers drop set-top boxes,
which route cable and broadcasting to televisions. They said
they were "working to resolve the remaining technical and legal
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Alan Crosby and