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FCC Dismisses Consumer Watchdog's 'Do Not Track' Lawsuit

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 09, 2015 3:50 PM

The FCC just dismissed a petition a petition filed by Consumer Watchdog requesting the Federal Agency to force "edge providers" like Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc., to honor a consumer's request not to be tracked. These are significant because you've probably even signed a couple of requests not to be tracked. Well, guess what: You're likely being tracked anyway.

Track for Service

Consumer Watch's original petition back in June asked the FCC to enact rules that would force all the big data companies to honor your "do not track" (DNT) requests whenever you signed on to use their services.

Common Carriers and "Edge Providers"

The FCC's refusal to force edge providers to conform to DNT requests is fresh on the heels of the FCC's recent classification in June of Internet Access Providers as "common carriers" -- just before the Consumer Watch petition. In a word, the FCC essentially likened ISPs to Fedex, USPS, DHL and other companies that carry packages of digital data.

But edge providers do not qualify as common carriers and are thus not subject to the net-neutrality restrictions. The new net neutrality rules applied Section 222 of the Communications Act to all the ISP common carriers, but fell just short of the edge providers.

Consumer Watch's Opinion

Consumer Watch, almost anticipating the outcome by the FCC from the very start, readied their petition to the FCC citing previous FCC under alternate applicable law. The group has argued that enacting rules to protect privacy, such as DNTs would actually encourage broadband experience and promote improved broadband use.

But the FCC remains steadfastly rigid in the dogma it set out for itself just a scant few months ago. "The Commission has been unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers," said the FCC in its ruling.

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