(Adds Verizon statement, details on use of data)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, March 31 Comcast Corp,
Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc said Friday
they would not sell customers’ individual internet browsing
information, days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation
reversing Obama administration era internet privacy rules.
The bill would repeal regulations adopted in October by the
Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack
Obama requiring internet service providers to do more to protect
customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc's Google
or Facebook Inc.
The easing of restrictions has sparked growing anger on
social media sites.
"We do not sell our broadband customers’ individual web
browsing history. We did not do it before the FCC’s rules were
adopted, and we have no plans to do so," said Gerard Lewis,
Comcast's chief privacy officer.
clear that "we do not sell our customers’ individual web
browsing information to third parties."
Verizon does not sell personal web browsing histories and
has no plans to do so in the future, said spokesman Richard
Verizon privacy officer Karen Zacharia said in a blog post
Friday the company has two programs that use customer browsing
data. One allows marketers to access "de-identified information
to determine which customers fit into groups that advertisers
are trying to reach" while the other "provides aggregate
insights that might be useful for advertisers and other
Republicans in Congress Tuesday narrowly passed the repeal
of the rules with no Democratic support and over the objections
of privacy advocates.
The vote was a win for internet providers such as AT&T Inc
, Comcast and Verizon. Websites are governed by a less
restrictive set of privacy rules.
The White House said Wednesday that President Donald Trump
plans to sign the repeal of the rules, which had not taken
Under the rules, internet providers would have needed to
obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation,
financial information, health information, children's
information and web browsing history for advertising and
marketing. Websites do not need the same affirmative consent.
Some in Congress suggested providers would begin selling
personal data to the highest bidder, while others vowed to raise
money to buy browsing histories of Republicans.
AT&T says in its privacy statement it "will not sell your
personal information to anyone, for any purpose. Period." In a
blog post Friday, AT&T said it would not change those policies
after Trump signs the repeal.
Websites and internet service providers do use and sell
aggregated customer data to advertisers. Republicans say the
rules unfairly would give websites the ability to harvest more
data than internet providers.
Trade group USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said in an op-ed
Friday for website Axios that individual "browser history is
already being aggregated and sold to advertising networks - by
virtually every site you visit on the internet."
This week, 46 Senate Democrats urged Trump not to sign the
bill, arguing most Americans "believe that their private
information should be just that."
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and