FCC announces rules to protect consumers\' private information

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COLUMBIA – Consumers can breathe a sigh of relief after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it adopted privacy rules to further protect individuals' private information while on the internet.

Sandy Davidson is a professor of communications law at the University of Missouri and said the new law puts individuals in control.

“It has been that internet service providers could use your information, we are talking about personal information, unless you opted out. Now you are in the driver's seat. If an interest service provider wants to use your information and sell it or whatever, you can just say no. They have to get permission,” Davidson said.

Davidson also elaborated on possible types of personal information included in this ruling. 

“This law is important because it helps to protect your financial information, your health information, your exact geo-physical location. Information that can currently be used by your internet service provider and perhaps you don’t even know its being used or how it is being used,” Davidson said.

In a statement released by the FCC, it said the new rules require broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to better protect the privacy of their customers. It also stated these rules will provide a “framework of customer consent” for ISPs that are handling customers personal information.

Socket is a local internet provider which does not release customers' personal information. Allie Schomaker works for Socket and said will still impact mid-Missouri. 

“I do think this ruling will affect all of us as consumers. Now our internet service providers won’t be able to share our information without our knowledge, no matter who your provider is. I think everyone will see an impact from that,” Schomaker said.

But one area this change does not effect: Individual websites.

“The important thing to remember is that this is affecting internet service providers, it's not affecting websites. So your browsing history, your emails and your activity on Facebook can potentially still be used for marketing purposes. This is specifically aimed at service providers and the content they have access to which, by nature, is a more comprehensive picture than maybe what one website might have access to,” Schoemaker said. 

ISPs now have one year to comply with the FCC’s rule before it goes into effect.