The FCC’s consumer broadband test has raised the suspicions of several organizations concerned that it could have a negative impact on consumer privacy.
The broadband test, which began in 2010 as part of the Obama administration’s National Broadband Plan, allows consumers to conduct an ”instant review” of their broadband speed connection, “and help the FCC spot broadband dead zones in the US.”
The commission contracted with two private entities to conduct the test: M-Lab — which is a project founded by Google, New America Foundation, and several academic institutions — and Ookla, a broadband testing company that runs Speedtest.net, Pingtest.net and Net Index.
Consumers who participate in the test provide the type of location they are conducting the speed test from, along with the address.
Ryan Radia, Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Associate Director of Technology Studies, wrote in a statement that the FCC “appears to be collecting more personal information than necessary, failing to fully disclose what it is collecting, and providing this information to law enforcement without any due process or judicial scrutiny.”
10 groups — one being Competitive Enterprise Institute, another Center for Media & Democracy - most notably known for its less than sunny reporting on Koch Industries and the American Legislative Exchange Council — signed a letter sent to the FCC earlier this month that outlined their concerns.
“Whatever the privacy risks here, the precedent set by the FCC with these programs will shape how the FCC and other agencies handle sensitive information in the future,” they said.