Earlier this month the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released its much-anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) setting forth and seeking comment on proposed rules to govern the privacy practices of broadband internet access service providers (BIAS providers). proposed new rules around consumer privacy. 

As one would expect the decision by the FCC has caused much in way of commentary - some this web site agrees with and some that we do not.   Our positions on the matter are not of relevance, however the reader's understanding of what is at stake is.

Feeling industrious the FCC has decided to provide a new area of debate by introducing their definition of an "edge service".  In reading the commentary it is clear the FCC is using the definition of edge services to be everything from websites, web-based email and streaming services, to mobile applications and search engines.

Its a clear and focused attempt to regulate the ISP market in general and the US cable (MSO) industry in particular.  It's another obvious and populist attempt to burden the cable broadband industry.  Saying the rule changes are being offered to protect the consumer, and then deliberately segregate those services that are the most intrusive and privacy bending is more an act of political agenda and less so for what is best for John Q. Public.

Google and Facebook to name a few are the most egregious violators of consumer privacy on the internet today.  Yes its an opt in service but a subscriber must accept the terms of service to be able to access the service at all.  Certainly not a free market solution - but then again when does the FCC consider the free market.

Ironically consumer privacy is whatever the government says it is, unfortunately.  Its our view that the question is not just whether the information derived from a subscriber's IP address is the ISP's - or  the web application's.  Rather after reading the release and commentary this week its clear the FCC believes the data from an IP address are neither the ISP's or the web application's - but rather it is the government's.  As with all things privacy is relative...