Technology

Comcast Wants Its Customers To Pay For The Privilege Of Not Being Snooped On

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There’s no privacy on the internet. Facebook will only begrudgingly let you talk privately with your friends, the government wants to look at your browsing history without a warrant, and Comcast looks at every piece of data you transmit over the internet to learn more about you. But the cable company will stop, if you pay them for the privilege.

Comcast is trying to make this change because the FCC is considering new rules that would force internet service providers to disclose all the information they collect and sell. Comcast wants to be able to charge users who’d rather not be spied on by a large company not well-known for its people skills, which they argue is a perfectly acceptable business practice. We assure you, that is a direct quote:

…as FTC Commissioner Ohlhausen points out, “such a ban may prohibit ad-supported broadband services and thereby eliminate a way to increase broadband adoption.” A bargained-for exchange of information for service is a perfectly acceptable and widely used model throughout the U.S. economy, including the Internet ecosystem, and is consistent with decades of legal precedent and policy goals related to consumer protection and privacy.

In other words, if you opt for cheaper tiers of broadband service supported by ads from Comcast in the future, you may unknowingly consent to have Comcast sort through your digital trash to glean personal tidbits about you. We want to point out that this isn’t just your browser history, it’s a deep packet inspection. Comcast wants to know exactly where you go online and how long you spend there. If you’re wondering just how much your privacy costs, AT&T currently values it at around $720 a year, provided you can opt out of their system at all.

Comcast argues this is the only way to keep costs low, but, of course, there’s a much simpler way to do that, which is open up the market to true competition. After all, Comcast is the only broadband option for 30% of American households, so a little competition would go a long way towards driving down prices without sacrificing privacy. Perhaps that’s what the FCC should consider, instead.

(Via DSL Reports)

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