Understanding Broadband Privacy Regulations and How They Impact Your Company

In our modern world, big brother really is watching our every move, every second of the day. Every time you log into social media, surf the web, perform employee background checks or buy something with a credit card, there’s a company out there somewhere that’s collecting that information, so that they can add it to their “big data” repository, and analyze your behavior along with the behavior of millions of people like you.

That analysis can be used to drive marketing plans, develop new products, or in many other ways. It’s exciting, but it’s also kind of scary. Which is why so many people welcomed the recent decision by the FCC to limit the data collection abilities of broadband companies.

What Was the Big News?

In case you missed it (and a surprising number of people and companies did!), in October of 2016, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to impose new privacy restrictions on broadband companies.

The ruling, which was widely reported as ground breaking, requires companies like Comcast, AT&T, and others to obtain express permission from consumers, before they can collect or share certain browsing data and information.

That’s a huge deal, because it means that those companies can no longer spy on everything you do if you don’t want them to, or sell the information they gather about you to companies looking for a marketing edge.

The ruling does not cover private, opt-in services like Facebook, Twitter, and other websites, which are still allowed to collect data, but that you can choose not to use.

Why This Is a Good Thing

Until this new legislation was passed, companies could track users unless they opted out. There was no requirement to give permission. It was assumed. You had to proactively approach individual companies to remove that permission. It’s no surprise no one did that.

That change is good news for consumers in general, but it’s good news for companies too. After all, every time employees used your computers to browse the web, they were building an information profile of your business… and that might have included things that you probably wouldn’t want recorded about your company!

A Great Time to Review Information Security Policies

While we celebrate a landmark change in internet browsing, it’s worth taking the time to review your own digital policies.

Have you created one? Does it set out how your computers and internet connections may be used, and what may not be done? Have you expressly informed employees that when they use your computers, their browsing history is not private? Make sure you have watertight policies, that they are updated regularly, and that each employee signs them.

Just like broadband companies are now required to ask your permission to track consumer information, you need to be very specific about what you track and review. There may come a time when your employee’s browsing history becomes a legal matter, and you really don’t want to take any chances in this area.

Finally, while we’re on the topic of all things digital, don’t forget to include an online search and social media review in your employee background checks. You would be surprised what you can find out about most people, just by searching online.

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