The Privacy Misdirection

Posted by: Bob Quinn on May 27, 2016 at 8:02 am

Today, we will file our official comments in the Commission’s privacy proceeding. The fundamental message will be that the FCC should follow the FTC’s lead and adopt a notice and consent framework for privacy that is entirely consistent with the FTC framework that has governed since the inception of the Internet.  That is contrary to the FCC’s current proposal neatly summarized by FCC Chairman Wheeler at a recent hearing: “For decades, the Commission has steadfastly protected consumers against misuse of their information by [telephone companies] ….  It only makes sense that consumers should enjoy similar privacy protections in the world of broadband.”  The problem with the FCC’s current approach is that it doesn’t reflect the reality of how the internet actually works.

That “misperception” is captured by a wrong-headed conclusion in the NPRM that ISPs are uniquely in a position to develop highly detailed and comprehensive profiles of their customers.  It is just not true.  In a prior blog, I talked about Prof. Peter Swire’s paper commissioned to help educate the FCC on the different data collection capabilities of all the platforms operating in the internet ecosystem.  [Not] surprisingly, that paper was neither cited nor referenced in the NPRM.

So, it shouldn’t be a shock that a recent Future of Privacy Forum blog post explained that the FCC’s proposed rules reflect “a fundamental misunderstanding of the current online advertising ecosystem, which is fully capable of tracking individual behavior across the Internet as well as between devices.” The post visually illustrates how a consumer’s visit to a single website (WebMD.com) actually results in information being shared with, and received from, 24 third party sites. Once these connections are established, these ad networks are then able to track the consumer and link data about that consumer as she/he browses the internet. If the connection is to a party that has personal information about you (e.g., a social media or email platform), that third party can easily append this new web browsing information back to your personal profile of your internet activity. If the connection is made via a mobile device, the unique device advertising id allows the third party to add to or build a similar profile of the internet activity specific to that device.  So, when the Chairman testified that when you make a decision to access Google, WebMD or Facebook that “only one entity collects all of that information,” he was just flat out wrong.

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AT&T Statement on FCC’s Proposed Open Internet Rulemaking

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on May 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm

 

The following may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs:

“AT&T is committed to an Open Internet.  We supported the Commission’s 2005 Open Internet Policy Statement, as well as the Commission’s 2010 Open Internet Rules which codified that policy.  Our network management practices are designed to comply with those rules.  Those practices are described on our website today, in accordance with FCC rules that were not vacated by the DC Circuit, and are still today fully enforceable by the FCC.  In short, broadband customers throughout the United States have access to AT&T’s open broadband networks which comply fully with Open Internet principles that have been in place for almost a decade.

“The framework adopted by the Commission in 2010 achieved a delicate balance that ensures openness, while maintaining a stable environment for investment.  As a result, infrastructure providers have invested hundreds of billions of dollars to provide American consumers with the most robust wireline and wireless broadband networks in the world.

“This debate has been falsely labeled as a debate over fast lanes and slow lanes.  It is not about that at all.  This debate is over whether we will continue to foster an investment environment that has allowed US companies to build the world’s best networks so that all consumers can have the fastest Internet lanes in the world.

“Going backwards 80 years to the world of utility regulation would represent a tragic step in the wrong direction. Utility regulation would strangle investment, hobble innovation, and put government regulators in charge of nearly every aspect of Internet-based services. It would deprive America of the world’s most robust broadband infrastructure, and place a cloud over every application or website that delivers products and content to consumers.  In short, it would place government in control of the Internet at the expense of private companies, inventors and entrepreneurs, and ultimately at the expense of the American people.

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The End of the Beginning of the IP Transition

Posted by: Bob Quinn on November 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Much has been written over the 12 months that have passed since AT&T filed its request for the Federal Communications Commission to oversee trials to facilitate the industry’s continued transition from aging communication platforms and services to new services based fully on Internet Protocol (“IP”). One important highlight in all that has been written is the vast number of customers, both business and residential, that already have made the transition. But to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, this is not the end of the transition, it is not even the beginning of the end of the transition, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning of the transition.

We have been very clear about our efforts to transform our network to one that is all Internet Protocol (IP). Our request for the Commission to oversee trials came on the same day we announced Project Velocity IP, a multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment plan to accelerate the historic national transition to all-IP networks and services, and we announced in our Annual Report that we expect to have fully transitioned our customers from decades-old technologies to an all-Internet Protocol network architecture by 2020.

The National Broadband Plan recognizes this transition as one that will bring “extraordinary opportunities to improve American life and benefit consumers” and the Commission’s efforts since the plan was published have set as an “express goal” facilitating the transition from traditional, TDM-based networks to all-IP networks and services. We all know, however, that while setting a worthwhile goal is important, executing a plan to achieve that goal is where much of the hard work takes place. As we approach the end of the beginning of the IP transition AT&T has begun the hard work of executing such a plan.

The first step of that plan is to align the commitments we make to our customers with the goal of transitioning to an all-IP network. That is why today we have taken a step to make sure that multi-year commitments we enter into today for aging TDM-based services reflect the on-going transition to IP and do not extend beyond the expected completion of our transition in 2020. Taking this step ensures we keep the commitments we enter into with our customers. In industry jargon, we are “grandfathering” these longer term plans for TDM-based services (i.e., allow those that have it to keep it but not enter in to new long term plans for these services).

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California PUC completes review of AT&T and Leap/Cricket merger

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on November 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm

 The following blog may be attributed to Ken McNeely, AT&T California President.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) completed their extensive review of the merger between AT&T and Leap/Cricket on November 8, 2013, effectuating the transfer of Leap/Cricket California wireless registration to AT&T.  We appreciate the CPUC’s swift and fair consideration of the issues.                                                                 

Leap/Cricket is headquartered in California, and the CPUC’s review sends an important signal to the Federal government that combining the two companies is in the public’s interest, delivers real benefits to consumers, and makes sense in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  

I thank CPUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval for her leadership in reviewing the terms of the transaction, and look forward to bringing Leap/Cricket customers into the AT&T family.  We’re advancing California’s technology and infrastructure every day – helping people to connect in new and amazing ways – and we’re pleased to have taken this important step forward.

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Bringing America’s Classrooms
Into the Digital Age

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on September 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

Yesterday, we filed comments in the FCC’s proceeding to modernize the E-rate program to meet President Obama’s goal of bringing broadband to every classroom in America. We fully support this goal and we look forward to working with the Commission to make it happen.

The current structure of the E-rate program does not reflect the reality of today’s rapidly growing high-speed world. Therefore the program should shift from supporting basic telecom and Internet access services to supporting the expansion of high-speed broadband connections into every school and library. Not only should broadband be prioritized over other services when it comes to receiving funding, but the Commission should also put funding toward ensuring adequate internal connections within these institutions. Access to broadband is useless if you don’t have sufficient inside wiring or electronics.

An additional priority for a modernized E-rate program should be addressing the needs of those schools and libraries that currently have either inadequate or no broadband service at all. Getting high-speed broadband connections into these anchor institutions will not only have an immediate, and positive, impact on students and teachers but it will also help the surrounding communities by increasing everyone’s access. What stands to undermine this effort, however, is the proposal to put E-rate money toward the build out of private fiber networks to institutions that already have adequate access to broadband. It is wasteful, inefficient and makes no sense to fund additional, private networks where commercial providers are already making high-speed broadband available.

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