Today, online data flows seamlessly among various companies, including devices, operating systems, browsers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), apps, online services, and advertising networks. Yet federal privacy rules treat and protect the very same consumer data flowing through this complex ecosystem differently based solely on the type of company that handles these data. This unequal treatment is based on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent decision to impose new privacy rules only on a limited number of companies on the internet, namely ISP’s. This creates confusion and gives consumers a false impression that their data is subject to the same protections across the internet.
A better path is to restore a uniform set of privacy protections under FTC oversight that apply equally to all online companies, including devices, operating systems, browsers, ISPs, apps, online services, and advertising networks. Adopting consistent privacy protections across all players in the digital ecosystem will benefit consumers by advancing uniformity that promotes consistency and clarity on the existence and nature of data privacy protections in the online world.