NCTA — The Internet & Television Association
Protecting Personal Information


NCTA’s member companies are firmly committed to safeguarding our customers’ personal information. With more of our daily lives taking place online, consumers deserve consistency, control, and confidence when it comes to their personal information. NCTA and our member companies are calling for a technology neutral federal data privacy law that protects consumers while promoting responsible data uses. We urge Congress to enact such a privacy law that establishes a new framework for today’s digital economy.

ISPs Commitment to Privacy

For decades, NCTA member companies have worked hard to safeguard our customers’ privacy. We value their trust and intend to keep it. However, recent revelations about the data collection and sharing practices of a few global tech giants demonstrate that consumers are unaware of how their data is being collected, used, and shared online. 

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are committed to providing customers with transparent privacy policies, including the ability to opt out of data sharing. For years, ISPs have implemented policies and practices that are consistent with the Federal Trade Commission’s widely respected and effective privacy framework, and other federal and state privacy laws. This framework helped drive the success of today’s Internet ecosystem by balancing consumer protection with the flexibility necessary to innovate. As policymakers work to craft a national privacy policy, ISPs are committed to a set of principles:

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ISPs provide customers with clear and conspicuous notice that describes what customer information is collected, how that information is used, and when that information is shared with third parties.

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Consumer Choice

ISPs give customers easy-to-understand privacy choices, based on the sensitivity of their data, that allow them to control the use and distribution of their personal information, including the ability to opt-out of data sharing.

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Data Security

ISPs take reasonable physical, technical, and administrative security measures to protect customer information that is collected and/or stored. These measures take into account the sensitivity of the data, among other considerations.

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Data Breach Notifications

ISPs notify affected parties of data breaches as appropriate and without unreasonable delay, when an unauthorized person acquires customers’ sensitive personal information.

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A technology-neutral, federal framework of online consumer protection is a first step to restoring America’s faith in our digital future.”

Michael Powell, President & CEO, NCTA

Elements of a Federal Framework

A comprehensive federal privacy law would enable consumers to enjoy transparency, choice, and security with respect to how their data is handled, regardless of where they are or what product or service they are using. Federal legislation should accomplish, at the very least:

Align All Standards

Hold all parties doing business, both online and offline, to the same standards for how consumer personal data is used, shared, and protected

Put People at the Center

Empower consumers with simple ways to access and control the use of their personal data while preserving beneficial opportunities that lead to new innovations and customized services.

End the Confusion

Ensure that consumers are clear about how their data is being collected and used, and require all parties collecting data to take reasonable physical, technical, and administrative security measures to protect that data.

Centralize Administration and Enforcement

Codify the Federal Trade Commission’s role as the preeminent national agency that oversees privacy and enhance the FTC’s enforcement tools.

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Now is the time for Congress to enact a national privacy policy that protects all Americans.

Why Does Online Privacy Matter to Consumers?

The Internet Doesn’t Stop at State Lines. Imagine someone lives in one state and works in another like the residents of the Chicago or Kansas City areas; or perhaps they live in California but ordered a pair of shoes from Texas. The way things work now, Americans’ privacy protections may change when they cross state lines, as they commute to work, or build an online business. With a federal law, location won’t dictate protection — Americans will covered uniformly.

Accountability Deters Bad Behavior. As it stands today, online privacy boils down to how much someone trusts each website they visit or app they download. With a federal law, all parties collecting data would play by the same rules enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Clear accountability, enforced by the long standing expertise of the FTC would deter bad behavior and encourage beneficial innovation.

Individuals Care About Their Customer Experience. Each individual has a different level of comfort when it comes to sharing personal information, be it online or offline. Some want to be as off-the-grid as possible while others appreciate a well targeted ad for a product for which they’ve been searching. People are already at the center of the online experience, a federal law would help to honor consumers’ choices and give them control.

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