Updated Apr 9, 2018

Charter CEO calls for privacy law covering all internet firms

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, speaking at the 2016 New York Times DealBook conference. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge says inconsistent privacy protections undermine consumer confidence online — and that’s bad for business. So he’s calling on Congress to pass strong online privacy rules that apply to all online players.

Why it matters: Rutledge is the first CEO of a major internet service provider to endorse an “opt-in” online privacy law that would apply to web platforms like Facebook as well as ISPs like Charter, which is the second-largest broadband provider in the country. Expect Zuckerberg to be asked about this idea tomorrow.

What Charter is pushing for: 

  • All internet companies must receive opt-in consent to collect and share their data for purposes other than the actual service they are engaged in (for example, consumer data can be used to send a bill or provide tech support).
  • All online entities must be transparent about how they collect and share information, including easy-to-understand privacy notices.
  • The rules should apply to all members of the internet ecosystem: social media apps, web browsers, broadband providers, online advertisers and data brokers. 

Remember: ISPs did not appreciate the FCC’s privacy rules that required them to get customers’ consent before sharing their data. One big sticking point for them was that the FCC’s rules didn't extend to digital advertising powerhouses like Google, Facebook that ISPs are trying to catch up to. ISPs successfully lobbied Congress to repeal those rules last year.

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