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Comcast Clears The Air Over Sale Of Customers' Browsing History

1 April 2017, 7:56 am EDT By Anu Passary Tech Times
Comcast has cleared the air over the controversy surrounding sale of customers' browsing histories. The company affirmed it would not share sensitive web data without opt-in consent from consumers.   ( Cindy Ord | Getty Images )

Comcast has taken a firm stand on the sale of customers' browsing history issue, and declared that it will not sell the same.

The debate regarding ISP privacy rules started when, on March 28, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of their elimination.

The ISP privacy rules envisaged by the Federal Communications Commission required mobile broadband and home internet providers to get consumer consent, before sharing or selling their app usage history, browser data, or any other private information with external companies or advertisers.

However, lawmakers with the authority of Congressional Review Act passed a resolution, ensuring that the FCC privacy rules "shall have no force or effect." As a result, the congressmen robbed FCC of its power to issue similar rules in the near future.

President Donald Trump has already signed the petition scrapping the recently-issued FCC regulation, which pertains to ISP privacy rules.

Comcast's Stand On Privacy Rules

On March 31, Comcast — the largest home internet provider in the United States — stated that it will respect its customers' privacy and not sell the data without their "knowledge or consent."

"At Comcast, we respect and protect our customers' personal information. Always have, always will. We do not sell our broadband customers' individual web browsing history. We did not do it before the FCC's rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so," noted Gerard Lewis, Comcast's Senior Vice President, who overlooks the Public Policy department.

Lewis asserted that plenty of misleading information has been floating around. There have been several debates regarding the action taken by congressmen, which now allows the ISPs to share consumer information without their knowledge.

He vehemently denied that the same is applicable for Comcast. Lewis asserted that the company is "committed not to share our customers' sensitive information." If Comcast were to take the route of sharing customers' browsing histories, it would request the users for their opt-in consent.

Comcast Offering Opt-In Option

The company is also giving consumers the option of opting out of targeted ads, which are sent to them using their non-sensitive browsing data.

Comcast does not outsource ads for consumers since it has its own advertising network. Thus, the question of sharing consumers' sensitive data to third-party advertising companies does not arise.

However, the company can use the data to send targeted ads to consumers, as businesses pay Comcast to ensure their ads reach potential customers.

Comcast will use the browser history data to ensure that the correct ad reaches the user who is likely to be interested in the information, without compromising the customers' privacy.

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