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Comcast to the FCC: Privacy could be costly for broadband users

The media tycoon says in a government filing that an exchange of personal data for service is a "perfectly acceptable" business practice.

Zack Whittaker Writer-editor
Zack Whittaker is a former security editor for CNET's sister site ZDNet.
Zack Whittaker
2 min read
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Comcast wants you to plug in and pay up.


Comcast may soon offer lower prices to its broadband users to serve targeted ads based on their internet browsing histories.

The company said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission on Monday that it wants to give "discounts or other value to consumers in exchange for allowing ISPs to use their data."

The filing said that the FCC has "no authority" to limit or prohibit these programs, which effectively allow the internet provider to turn over web histories to advertisers.

The FCC is expected to finish up its privacy rules for internet providers later this year.

But if the FCC were to intervene, Comcast argues that a ban would "harm consumers by, among other things, depriving them of lower-priced offerings." The flip side is that those who want to opt out of the program would end up paying full whack for their service.

In other words: you'll pay for your privacy.

The practice isn't new. It's not uncommon for sites and services like Facebook, Google, and Netflix to use your data to better serve ads to you. Internet providers want to play by those rules too.

The internet giant wants to follow in the steps of AT&T, which charged users significantly more to opt out of the company's own advertising system, which reports dubbed a "luxury that few would choose."

Comcast hasn't made any formal plans to begin charging users, yet. We've reached out to the company for more.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline "Comcast wants its broadband users to pay for their privacy."