FTC will examine privacy policies at major internet providers

It wants to know if ISPs are respecting their customers' data.

Just because American internet providers are facing looser privacy regulations doesn't mean they're avoiding all scrutiny. The Federal Trade Commission has ordered AT&T, Comcast, Google Fiber, T-Mobile and Verizon (Engadget's parent company) to hand over information on their privacy policies and practices as part of an investigation. Now that these ISPs are "vertically integrated" companies that provide ad-supported content in addition to broadband, the FTC wants to better understand their approaches to privacy and prevent "unfair and deceptive" behavior.

Officials are interested in the kind of personal info ISPs collect, as well as how they do it and why. The regulators also want to know who has access to the data, whether it's anonymized and the level of transparency. The FTC would also like to know if customers have control over their data, including options to turn down data collection or delete whatever the ISP keeps.

This won't necessarily lead to crackdowns on any of the companies involved. It could ensure that they're flying straight, however. And given that telecoms have sometimes played fast and loose with customer privacy, it won't be completely shocking if the FTC tells them to alter their practices and keep sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.