The Federal Communications Commission approved sweeping new rules Thursday that limit the information internet service providers (ISPs) can share on consumers.
The 3-2 decision was celebrated by online privacy advocates, but may “destabilize” the online advertising industry, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry trade group that includes many firms operating in the campaign space such as Rocket Fuel and IP-targeting specialist Semcasting.
The new rules really take aim at ISPs, but advertisers warn they could severely impact digital marketers that rely on consumer data for online targeting.
“Today the FCC took an unfortunate step toward destabilizing the ad-supported internet economy,” Dave Grimaldi, an IAB executive vice president, said in a statement. “By voting to approve an overly-broad definition of ‘sensitive information’ that includes web browsing history, the Commission’s action could impair the ability for online ads to support the wealth of consumer benefits we all have come to expect.”
The FCC’s definition of sensitive data includes the geo location of a device, children’s or health information, financial history and Social Security numbers, app usage and web browsing history. Emails were considered non-sensitive data.
“Transparency requirements that require ISPs to provide customers with clear, conspicuous and persistent notice about the information they collect, how it may be used and with whom it may be shared, as well as how customers can change their privacy preferences,” the FCC said in a release.
Some consultants expect the ruling won’t impact voter-data vendors as much those who provide services like IP targeting, database on-boarding and cookie matching. At least one vendor, Audience Partners, celebrated the decision as a chance to gain an edge over the competition.
“As the company who powers addressable advertising for half the broadband consumers in the U.S. through the use of our double blind, privacy by design IP targeting platform, we appreciate the FCC’s revisions that strengthened consumer privacy protections while at the same time, allowing the ISP's to offer a highly accurate and superior way for campaigns and marketers to access to the right households cross screen,” said Jordan Lieberman, president of Audience Partners.
Other consultants said they didn’t yet have time to digest the ruling and likely wouldn’t be able to before Nov. 8. The rules don’t go into effect for at least a year.
Thursday’s decision was the latest FCC ruling to impact the consulting industry. Last year, an FCC crackdown on robocalls had consultants crying foul because they believed it could hinder modeling.