Privacy in Retrospect: The Atlas Stance
The House voted on Tuesday in favor of blocking internet privacy rules passed by the
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) last year. These rules prohibited internet service providers (ISPs) from collecting and sharing “sensitive user data” without establishing customer consent and disclosure first. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) generally describes sensitive data as a user’s social security number, financial standings or personal health information, but the FCC expanded that definition to include website browsing data and app content/usage. The FCC ruling also applied to phone services treating call content records as sensitive data as well.
The bill passed the Senate last week and with recent House approval, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) is now in motion. This allows Congress to undo recently passed regulations and prohibits those agencies from passing similar rules in the future. Analysts expect the bill to pass soon, anticipating President Trump’s signature of approval.
Activists and consumers strongly opposed the bill, and its passage is a win for large ISPs. We feel this is a good opportunity to look at how Atlas Networks has approached consumer privacy since our beginning in 2008.
Our stance is simple.
Atlas Networks has not, does not, and will not ever collect and/or share any kind of data, sensitive or otherwise, from our customer’s internet usage. How you use the broadband we provide is your business and not a sellable commodity.
The only data we collect about your internet usage is the IP address assigned to you, which is required to comply with the DMCA – Safe Harbor rules and notices. Sharing customer information under subpoena is a legal obligation, not a choice. Selling customer data for profit is a choice – and not one we believe in. There is a difference.
We believe that your online privacy is of the utmost importance. Your internet connection should be treated no differently than any other home delivery service. You count on Postal Service, for example, to deliver packages to you on time and untampered. If you discovered that your postal carrier was looking inside your packages, you would be right to be confused and outraged. You would never trust that delivery service again. Internet service providers are no different: It is our job to deliver Gigabit speed internet to our customers, not retain or benefit from any user data generated.
Further, we do not put artificial broadband usage caps on any of our commercial or residential internet services, and we are strong advocates of network neutrality. Unmetered and unmonitored internet usage is Atlas’ way.
The other side.
These FCC rules were written in response to the questionable data collection practices many of the larger ISPs participate in. Many rely on customer usage and behavioral data to drive targeted advertising campaigns and fuel data driven marketing firms that function based on the web history of different demographics.
Those in opposition of the FCC regulations say they would subject ISPs to restrictions that websites such as Facebook and Google do not have and it is a question of fair and equitable regulatory action. This is particularly dangerous to user privacy when you see companies that dominate the search world buying and building internet access companies. The thin veil between access, content and search completely disappears.
To us, it’s about trust.
We keep the water clear here and leave nothing up to question or interpretation. As the local internet service provider and telecommunications alternative in Seattle, our customer relationships are based on trust. We live in the community we serve and believe in individual privacy protection from the outset.
To us, the FCC regulation and its probable repeal is a non-issue – we never participated in questionable data collection in first place and won’t, ever. Our clients can feel secure and confident, knowing that with Atlas, you not only get the fastest internet in town at affordable rates, but peace of mind as well.