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ACA Calls On FCC To Scuttle Burdensome Broadband Privacy Proposal

FCC Should Embrace FTC’s Balanced Privacy Framework

PITTSBURGH, July 7, 2016 -  The American Cable Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to refrain from adopting its proposed broadband privacy and data security rules because they are unwarranted, exceed the scope of the FCC's authority, and would impose onerous obligations on smaller broadband providers with few, if any, offsetting benefits for consumers.

Instead, the FCC  should base any rules on the framework established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which protects core Internet values - such as transparency and consumer choice - and avoids swamping small Internet Service Providers (ISPs) providers with costly, burdensome regulations.

"The FCC's proposed rules would needlessly increase costs and burdens for broadband providers, particularly smaller ones, with little to no consumer benefit, including because they fail to cover all actors in the Internet ecosystem.  To avoid these problems, the FCC should harmonize any rules with the FTC's more flexible and less onerous approach, which apply to all actors alike and has produced demonstrable benefits for consumers for decades," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

ACA's recommendations were submitted in reply comments to the FCC on July 6.  ACA demonstrated in earlier comments and explains further in this filing that the agency's proposals are unwarranted and unduly prescriptive and would harm the Internet economy as a whole.

ACA has endorsed an industry proposal that would track with the decades-old model developed by the FTC, pursuant to Section 5 of the FTC Act.  This proposal would be consistent with privacy regulations for the rest of the Internet ecosystem; would promote consumer choice and innovation; and would not overburden small providers with unworkable and financially draining regulations.

ACA stressed that support for its approach goes well beyond the small broadband community as many commenters, including the FTC staff, agreed that a flexible, uniform framework for the Internet ecosystem is superior to the FCC's hyper-regulatory proposal.  ACA also noted the FCC's proposal drew criticism from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, which expressed concern that the proposed rules would harm small providers.

In the reply comments, ACA noted that if the FCC moves forward with its proposals, proponents of the FCC-proposed rules, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have not objected to relief for smaller providers.

"The FCC should reject calls to adopt its proposed rules (or to make them even more burdensome and disruptive), and should instead adopt a flexible framework that respects the needs and means of small providers," ACA's Polka said.

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 750 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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