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Groups Express Concern at FCC Speedtest Data Collection
Argue There's No Checks and Balances for FCC Data Use
by Karl Bode 10:23AM Thursday Oct 11 2012
Several groups have sent the FCC a letter (pdf) expressing concern at the amount of data collected by the agency's speed tests. The last few years the FCC realized that actually having some real-world data might help inform policy decisions (go figure!) -- so they introduced their own speed test, and launched a program using routers with custom firmware in subscriber homes to track ISP performance. The data has proven semi-useful, allowing the FCC to highlight speed underperformers who've then rushed to correct shortcomings (see: Cablevision).

Data collected includes IP addresses, street addresses, mobile handset latitude/longitude data and unique handset identification numbers. However, groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Communications Liberty and Innovation Project, TechFreedom, and Center for Media and Democracy expressed concern in a letter that there's few if any checks and balances in place governing what the FCC does with this data. The letter complains that the FCC's privacy statement for these services essentially gives the agency carte blanche to do whatever it wants with it -- including sharing it with other government agencies:
quote:
The privacy statement describes several troubling situations where personal information "may be routinely disclosed." If, for instance, the FCC finds any information to be an "indication of a violation or potential violation of a statute, regulation, rule, or order," the FCC may share such data with federal, state, or local agencies. Thus, consumers who take either broadband test may be unwittingly helping to build databases that other government agencies might use to prosecute criminal offenses and regulatory violations without any due process or judicial oversight, or even reporting by the FCC as to how often it shares such information with other agencies.
Granted when you've got a government that has live carrier wiretaps allowing them to snoop through the entire country's traffic in real time, the FCC nosing around in your SamKnows router seems like small potatoes. Still, the groups have a legitimate point in that there's no system in place to ensure the data is protected, and like all terms of service, the FCC's are obnoxiously broad.

At the same time, not all of the folks behind the letter are driven by altruism or privacy rights; several of the groups take funding from incumbent ISPs who've never much liked the fact that the FCC collects this data and highlights industry shortcomings when it comes to speed and performance.

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Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

It's OK!

Being that it may save children, fight infringement and surely stop any possible lose of life through any acts of terrorism we should ignore this, allow it and act like nothing is going on.

3...
2...
1...
Go!
Bob61571

join:2008-08-08
Washington, IL

I am all for

calling out the Slow Poke ISP's out there publicly.

What's their beef?

SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA
Reviews:
·MetroPCS

WHAT?

"allowing the FCC to highlight speed underperformers who've then rushed to correct shortcomings"

I didn't know there was a federal minimum requirement for broadband.

What are some examples of such FCC policy decisions that needs real-world data on speedtest?

I thought the consumer votes with their wallet.
covfam

join:2012-03-05
Black River Falls, WI

Re: WHAT?

only if your in a market that has more than a single option. for example i have 2 choices charter internet or Satelite and for anyone who has never used satelite for internet its not viable... dialup is better. when i had satelite i consistantly got 18,000ms latency on good days, preventing me from playing even the most basic games online, preventing me from synching online ANYTHING, preventing me from doing anything except read wikipedia. the 25gig bandwith caps make it so you can barely watch the news clips on cnn or you tube videos let alone hulu or netflix or stream any type of audi or use skype oh and the huge latency prevents any real streaming of anything!

here in wisconsin AT&T has lobbies and pushed into effect laws that make it extremely difficult for newcommers to come into the state or for municipalities to make thier own isp. so in MANY places of america your choice is basicly have internet or no internet NOT a vast choice of isp's to "vote with your wallet"

TamaraB
Question The Current Paradigm
Premium
join:2000-11-08
Da Bronx
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
·Clearwire Wireless
said by SysOp:

"allowing the FCC to highlight speed underperformers who've then rushed to correct shortcomings"

I didn't know there was a federal minimum requirement for broadband.

No Federal minimum, but consumers should get what they are paying for, and be informed when their ISP advertises one thing and provides another.

said by SysOp:

What are some examples of such FCC policy decisions that needs real-world data on speedtest?

CableVision is a case in point. I pay for 50/8 and I get:




Consistently.

This is a direct result of the FCC speed test results.
--
"Remember, remember the fifth of November.
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people"


Packeteers
Premium
join:2005-06-18
Forest Hills, NY
kudos:1

Re: WHAT?

TamaraB, speedtest.net is bogus, man.

most of it's isp boost cached nonsense.

you want a true ISP test, better use;

testmy.net (be sure to choose east coast)

TamaraB
Question The Current Paradigm
Premium
join:2000-11-08
Da Bronx

Re: WHAT?

Pretty close to 50, certainly not bogus. And this is to DC, much further than Clifton NJ, right across the Hudson river here.


Packeteers
Premium
join:2005-06-18
Forest Hills, NY
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: WHAT?

sweet... next time double your up/down size - it should equal or exceed your expected speed to get a more accurate reading that mitigates your ISP's speedtest cheating boost cache. >5mb/sec is impressive... about 300% more than I get stuck at 1.2

mmay149q
Premium
join:2009-03-05
Dallas, TX
kudos:48
said by SysOp:

I thought the consumer votes with their wallet.

I don't know where you live, but here in Dallas (Population almost 3 million) I only have 3 options for internet, 2 of them are capped, and the one I'm using is un-capped for now please tell me more about how I can vote with my wallet, especially when 2 of the 3 options are owned by the same company.

My neighborhood internet choices:
AT&T DSL
AT&T U-verse
Time Warner Cable

There are other "competitors" such as satellite internet, and some cell tower ISP, but neither can truly compete with 50Mbps download from TWC... Unfortunately this is how most of America is. In my last apartment my only 2 options were TWC and FiOS. If you really believe that people can vote with their wallet, I feel sorry for you from all that koolaid you're drinking...

Matt
--
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Here we go... Pre-emptive attack on the Data...

... so that the unfavorable results can be then disregarded.

As a participant in the SamKnows project, I can say it provides a lot of interesting data and statistics about my connection.

I'm glad to help.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
big_e

join:2011-03-05

It largely made up of republican/libertarian think tanks.

Competitive Enterprise Institute
Communications Liberty and Innovation Project
TechFreedom
Center for Media and Democracy
Campaign for Liberty
Institute for Liberty
The Rutherford Institute
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
OpenTheGovernment.org
Liberty Coalition