Monday, June 18, 2018
Business

FCC proposes privacy rules for Internet providers

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators Thursday proposed a set of privacy rules for Internet service providers that would significantly curb the ability of companies like Comcast and Verizon to share data about their customers' online activities with advertisers without permission from users.

In the proposal before the Federal Communications Commission, the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, called for broadband service providers to disclose clearly how data may be collected about users' online browsing and other activities. The plan also called for the companies to bolster the security of customer data.

The rules, if approved, would establish first-time privacy rules for the companies that manage the traffic of the Web and would create some of the strongest privacy regulations for any segment of the technology and telecommunications industries. It is the first major regulatory action of broadband providers after the FCC's declaration last year that high-speed Internet carriers should be treated like utilities.

In a statement, Wheeler said that since Internet service providers handle all network traffic, the companies have a "broad view of all of your unencrypted online activity." He added that "even when data is encrypted, your broadband provider can piece together significant amounts of information about you — including private information such as a chronic medical condition or financial problems — based on your online activity."

The regulations, if approved, would put broadband providers under stronger privacy oversight than Internet companies like Google and Facebook. Those companies are monitored by the Federal Trade Commission, whose ability to create specific privacy rules is limited.

Many privacy advocates have pushed for a greater role by other agencies because the FTC cannot create rules for online privacy and can only monitor data collection practices as an enforcement agency.

"This is nothing short of a historic moment," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group. "Unlike the Federal Trade Commission, the FCC has the legal authority to enact safeguards that will allow an individual to have real control over how their information can be gathered and used."

Some privacy experts said Internet service providers were capable of stitching together a more complete picture of a consumer by tracking the sites a customer visits using its network. Because more devices in the home are now being connected to Wi-Fi, the broadband providers also have more ways to collect data on their customers for online advertising, said Harold Feld, a senior vice president of the nonprofit media advocacy group Public Knowledge.

The FCC's proposal Thursday has already drawn protest from telecom and cable companies, which have pointed to the FTC as a strong privacy enforcer. But the FCC has argued that after it reclassified broadband as a utility, it was compelled by law to create privacy rules.

In a recent blog post, AT&T said websites like Google are leading behavioral advertising companies that should be held to the same standards as broadband access providers.

"Given the realities of this complex market, there is no basis for treating ISP data as somehow 'proprietary' or subjecting ISPs to unique privacy requirements," wrote Bob Quinn, senior vice president of AT&T's federal regulatory affairs, referring to Internet service providers. "Consumers expect and deserve consistent privacy protections for their online data, regardless of which company is collecting it and the technology used to collect it."

Comments
St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

ST. PETERSBURG — Residents can expect their water and sanitation bills to increase between $7 and $11 starting in October.That represents an average of a 7-percent increase. Customers who use an average of 4,000 gallons a month, including reclaimed w...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

One of Florida’s biggest draws is also one if its biggest liabilities — its coastline. A new report projects that Florida is at the greatest risk of any state for tidal flooding caused by rising sea levels. And Tampa Bay faces some of the greatest ri...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

day after an electrical fire broke out in its dry goods warehouse Friday night.Dominic Horwath, a grocery manager at Mazzaro’s on 22nd Ave. N, said staffers spent Monday and the weekend moving things into other warehouses.The damage from the fire at ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Mazzaro’s market set to reopen Tuesday after blaze damaged one of its warehouses

Mazzaro’s market set to reopen Tuesday after blaze damaged one of its warehouses

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market is scheduled to reopen Tuesday after an electrical fire broke out its dry goods warehouse Friday night.Dominic Horwath, a grocery manager at Mazzaro’s on 22nd Avenue N said staff spent Monday and the weekend...
Published: 06/18/18
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen could not be reached Monday for comment. City officials said he has submitted plans for rem...
Published: 06/18/18

Hernando Business Digest for June 22

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL RECEIVES AWARD: Oak Hill Hospital in Spring Hill was the recipient of Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award, a designation that recognizes superior performance of hospitals that have prevented the occurrence...
Published: 06/18/18
Pasco Business Digest for June 22

Pasco Business Digest for June 22

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITALS RECEIVE AWARD: Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point and Medical Center of Trinity were recipients of Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award, a designation that recognizes superior performance of hospitals t...
Published: 06/18/18
Tampa Bay gas prices keep falling

Tampa Bay gas prices keep falling

The summer reprieve in gas prices is continuing.After flirting near the $3 mark, Tampa Bay gas prices fell another six cents a gallon over the past week to an average of $2.65 for unleaded, a wide gap with the national average of $2.91 a gallon, acco...
Published: 06/18/18
Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

SAN FRANCISCO - The cold, steely arm of Fernando the Barista swirled the foam of my matcha latte, set it down gently, and waved goodbye from inside a glass case. San Francisco, 2018. Where you can get robot pizza and robot salad, and now, a robot mat...
Published: 06/16/18