Dear Member of Congress,
Over the past several weeks, Members of Congress, privacy experts, industry leaders and the media have brought renewed attention to the issue of how to ensure the privacy of consumers’ personal information online. Important questions have been raised about what information and choice consumers have regarding how their personal online information is collected, shared and monetized, and – critically – how our laws should be changed.
As the provider of Internet access to over 24 million homes and business across 41 states, Charter understands the importance of addressing this issue and getting the policy right.
Earlier this month, Charter Communications called for uniform online privacy protections for all Americans no matter where they go on the Internet. In a blog post, Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge cited alarming statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau showing that nearly half of American Internet users abstained from online activities due to privacy and security concerns, with identity theft and financial fraud at the top of the list of concerns. Following Congressional hearings earlier this month, a new study was fielded by research firm HarrisX that found that 83 percent of respondents think we need tougher regulations and penalties for breaches of data privacy (#_ftn1) . In an ever-expanding digital world, an American public who is increasingly skeptical about engaging online is not only bad business for all of us in the Internet ecosystem, it is a threat to our nation’s future economic growth.
Currently, consumers are understandably confused about where and how their personal online data is being collected and used. Holding different Internet entities to different standards results in greater confusion, increased consumer concern and an overall lack of confidence in online economic transactions and social media interactions.
Charter stands ready to work with Congress to pass a new law that provides everyone with the same protections, regardless of where they go online or what online services they use. To maximize consumers’ online privacy, we would support a law that required all Internet entities – be they online advertisers, data brokers, app developers, search engines, social media sites or Internet service providers like us – to receive opt-in consent from users to collect and share their personal data for anything other than purpose of providing the specific service they are engaged in. It should also require them to provide consumers with concise, easy-to-find, understandable explanations about how they collect and share the online information.
We are eager to continue this conversation with you in the weeks and months ahead to ensure the online privacy of the millions of Americans who rely on the Internet every day.
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs