FTC to Examine Privacy Practices of Major Internet Providers

The Federal Trade Commission building in
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WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission said it is launching an examination of the privacy practices of major internet providers including AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast to study how they use consumer information.

Capitol Hill lawmakers have been giving added scrutiny to the tech industry’s use of consumer data for more than a year, but much of the attention has been on platforms like Google and Facebook, not the companies that provide internet service.

The FTC said the orders for information were also sent to T-Mobile, AT&T Mobility, Google Fiber, and Verizon Wireless.

Among other things, the FTC is seeking information on the how information is collected, how it is used by third parties, and how long it is kept by the ISPs. The agency is also asking for extensive information about how consumers are informed about the use of their information and whether they are given options to decline the collection.

The FTC has already been holding a series of hearings on competition, and has scheduled an April 9-10 session on its approach to consumer privacy. Last month, it also announced the launch of a task force to focus on competition in tech markets.