Citizens' Issues
5 Things You Should Know About the FCC’s Proposed Privacy Rules

It stops Verizon’s zombie cookie in its tracks, but allows AT&T to keep charging customers extra if they want privacy


Last week, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new privacy rules for Internet providers. The proposal was immediately praised by privacy advocates as "a major step forward" and lambasted by AT&T as an effort to place a "thumb on the scale in favor of Internet companies."


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stopped by our offices to explain the proposal, which will be voted on by the commission later this year after a period of public comment. Here is what you need to know about the proposed rules.

  1. The new rules would prohibit Internet providers from sharing information with third parties about a customer’s name, address, location and Internet activity, unless they have opted in to having their data shared.

    It is meant to provide the same level of privacy protection to Internet customers’ data that companies must, by law, apply to telephone customers’ data.

  2. The rules also broaden the types of data that are protected, Wheeler said. The old rules for telephone operators covered “Customer Proprietary Network Information” – such as the duration and frequency of calls placed by customers and where they were placed from.

    Wheeler said the proposal includes Internet activities tied to a unique identifying number rather than a person’s actual name or phone number. Under the proposed rules, Internet providers could not, without consent, track customers using a unique number tied to a customer’s Internet activity or phone location.

  3. The new rules would prevent Verizon from continuing to use its “zombie cookie” on behalf of its subsidiary AOL. Last week, Verizon agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle FCC charges that it violated customers’ privacy when it used a hidden unkillable (therefore “zombie”) number to track cellphone users.

    As part of the settlement, Verizon agreed to allow customers to opt in to any future uses of the tracking technique. But the settlement did not apply to Verizon subsidiary AOL’s use of the tracking number.

    Wheeler said that the proposed privacy rules “would overrule the consent decree.” The proposal only allows subsidiaries to use an Internet provider’s customer data to market “communications related services,” and so AOL’s use of the tracking number for advertising purposes would need to be opt in.

  4. The new rules, however, would allow AT&T to keep marketing its privacy-invading Gigapower high-speed Internet service in dozens of cities. Gigapower costs $70 a month for customers who agree to let AT&T view the Web pages they visit and the queries they type into search engines. Those who want to protect their privacy must pay $100 a month for the Gigapower service.

    Wheeler said he was concerned about privacy becoming a luxury service. But he said, “At this point in the debate, we have to deal with what we can deal with today.”

  5. The proposal doesn’t cover content, only metadata. That means if a customer visits an unencrypted website, the Internet provider could still view and share the contents of that website without consent.

As encryption becomes more common, that loophole will get smaller. But regardless of whether Internet traffic is encrypted, Wheeler said that it is important to protect information about what websites a person visits.


"I might be getting encrypted data," he said, "but if I visit a cancer center, just the fact that I'm going to the cancer center is of interest to an insurance company."


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Nifty, Sensex look tired – Monday closing report
Nifty may head lower, if it closes below 7,460
We had mentioned in Friday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex were in no man’s land and that indices are probably waiting for global cues, which seem positive so far. The major indices of the Indian stock markets rose on Monday based on foreign institutional investors’ interest and higher global markets on Friday and Monday. But it could not gain momentum and closed marginally higher over Friday’s close. The trends of the major indices in Monday’s trading are given in the table below:
The major indices in the Indian stock markets rose for a second consecutive session on Monday, led by Tata Motors, after it posted robust sales for February and on improved global risk appetite after gains on Wall Street and in Europe last week.
WPI (wholesale price index) inflation remained in the negative zone for a 16th month at (-)0.91% in February as food articles, mainly vegetables and pulses turned cheaper. The Wholesale Price Index-based inflation was (-)0.9% in January. In February last year, it was (-)2.17%. This is the 16th straight month since November 2014 when deflationary pressure has persisted. Food inflation stood at 3.35% in February compared with 6.02% in January, showed official data. Inflation in pulses and onion eased to 38.84% and (-)13.22%, respectively. The rate of price rise in the case of vegetables was (-)3.34%, and for fruits, it stood at (-)1.95%. Price rise in potato was (-)6.28% while that of egg, meat and fish came in at 3.47%.
The inflation print in the fuel and power segment was (-)6.40% and for manufactured products, it read (-)0.58% in February. The December WPI inflation has been revised to (-)1.06% from the provisional estimate of (-)0.73%. Reserve Bank mainly looks at retail inflation data, which is expected later in the day while firming up monetary policy stance. It also takes into account industrial production numbers, which as per latest reading fell for a third straight month, contracting 1.5% in January due to poor showing of manufacturing. Industry has raised its pitch for a rate cut as factory output numbers continue to disappoint and the government stuck to the fiscal consolidation path in the Budget 2016-17, giving more elbowroom to the apex bank to ease monetary policy at the first bimonthly policy review for the next fiscal on April 5.
Rain and hailstorms have hit parts of northern India since Friday, which have flattened wheat, mustard and coriander crops in states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. BP Yadav, director of India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that while crops have been affected, full damage cannot be quantified as of now. Rains are expected to halt for two to three days in the states of Punjab and Haryana, but will resume post March 17th, Yadav said adding that there are worries on the eastern side of the country. These worries are likely to reduce agricultural income and aggregate demand in the country and thus apply pressure on corporate revenues. This will, in turn, apply pressure on the possibility and extent of a bull market in the Indian stock markets for the next few months.
Glenmark Pharma has received final nod from the USFDA to manufacture and market therapeutical equivalent of Endo Pharmaceutical's Frova tablets, used to treat migraine headaches, in the American market, the company said in a BSE filing. Quoting IMS data, Glenmark said the approved product has an estimated market size of USD 87.8 million for the 12 months ended January 2016. Glenmark shares closed at Rs830.85, up 1.09%.
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc's India unit said on Monday it had stopped selling its popular Corex cough syrup, after regulators banned it saying it was likely to pose a risk to humans. Pfizer shares closed at Rs1,760.80, down 8.67%.
Gold bounced back on Monday, inching closer to last week's 13-month high as the dollar remained under pressure ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting. The U.S. dollar was at one-month lows against a basket of major currencies. The main focus is the U.S. central bank's policy meeting on March 15-16, after it lifted rates for the first time in nearly a decade in December. Investors in the precious metals market are also looking at a Bank of Japan meet.
The rupee trimmed its earlier gains, but was still quoting higher by 8 paise against the American currency on sustained bouts dollar selling from banks and exporters amid higher domestic equities. The rupee resumed higher at Rs66.99 against Friday’s closing level of 67.05 at the Inter-bank Foreign exchange (forex) market. It strengthened further at 66.8750 on good bouts of dollar selling from banks before quoting at 66.97 at 1030 hours. The domestic unit hovered in a range of 66.9950 to 66.8750. Sustained capital inflows are supporting the rupee sentiment. This is important in the light of resumed inflows into the Indian stock markets from foreign institutional investors.
The top gainers and top losers of the major indices are given in the table below:
The closing values of the major Asian indices are given in the table below:


SBI says disbursed Rs1,465 crore as first instalment of arrears under OROP
SBI has paid first instalment or one fourth of the total arrears amount up to February 2016 to service pensioners and full amount of arrears to ‘family pensioners’ and ‘gallantry award’ pensioners
State Bank of India on Monday said it released arrears worth Rs1,465 crore to about 7.75 lakh defence pensioners under the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme, as per the government rules.
The government had in November last year formally notified the OROP scheme for the more than 24 lakh defence ex-servicemen and 6 lakh war widows in the country.
“As per government guidelines, first instalment (one fourth of the total arrear amount up to February 2016) to service pensioners and full amount of arrears to ‘family pensioners’ and ‘gallantry award’ pensioners will be paid on 14 March, 2016. All pensioners will get revised basic (pension) from March 2016 onwards,” SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said in a statement.
The bank has the largest share of defence pensioners and serves about 50% of total defence pensioners across the country, she said. “The first tranche of arrears payment by SBI will be around Rs1,465 crore,” Bhattacharya added.
SBI noted that while the bank has taken utmost care in the computation and release of arrears to maximum number of eligible defence pensioners, there could be cases where it has not been able to release OROP arrears due to information gaps in the data available with the bank.
“All such persons may approach their pension-disbursing branch and provide the missing information for an early release of the arrears,” it added.
SBI has introduced facilities in all branches and Centralised Pension Processing Centres (CPPCs) to provide arrear details to the pensioners.
Despite a demand by protesting ex-servicemen to implement OROP with effect from 1 April 2014, the government has said that arrears would be paid with effect from 1 July 2014, and has pegged the arrears till December 2015 at Rs10,900 crore.
As per government directions, payment of arrears would be made by the pension-disbursing authorities in four instalments, except for family pensioners and pensioners in receipt of gallantry awards, who will be paid arrears in one instalment.
The OROP scheme is expected to cost the government Rs7,500 crore per year.


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