Major internet providers say will not sell customer browsing histories

Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:09pm EDT
 
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Comcast Corp, Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc said Friday they would not sell customers’ individual internet browsing information, days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation reversing Obama administration era internet privacy rules.

The bill would repeal regulations adopted in October by the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc's Google or Facebook Inc.

The easing of restrictions has sparked growing anger on social media sites.

"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," said Gerard Lewis, Comcast's chief privacy officer.

He added Comcast is revising its privacy policy to make more clear that "we do not sell our customers’ individual web browsing information to third parties."

Verizon does not sell personal web browsing histories and has no plans to do so in the future, said spokesman Richard Young.

Verizon privacy officer Karen Zacharia said in a blog post Friday the company has two programs that use customer browsing data. One allows marketers to access "de-identified information to determine which customers fit into groups that advertisers are trying to reach" while the other "provides aggregate insights that might be useful for advertisers and other businesses."

Republicans in Congress Tuesday narrowly passed the repeal of the rules with no Democratic support and over the objections of privacy advocates.   Continued...

 
The NBC and Comcast logo are displayed on top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, formerly known as the GE building, in midtown Manhattan in New York July 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo