ISPs to Senate: Well Ask Before We Invade Privacy

ISPs on Thursday attended a Congressional hearing to lobby for self-regulation of their use of deep-packet inspection. That’s the virtual equivalent of the Postal Service opening citizens’ mail, reading it and sharing with third parties that would like to profit off individual interests and hobbies, Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn testified.

Members of the Senate Commerce Committee are exploring whether to push a bill that would protect consumers’ online privacy by restricting the use of deep-packet inspection.

But, as one might expect, AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) asked lawmakers to please, sirs, let us regulate ourselves. AT&T has pledged to get users’ permission first before exploring their online habits, and Verizon also talked up an opt-in program.

DIY oversight. That’s a strategy that’s worked out really well for, say, the financial industry.

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