The Federal Communications Commission is expected to propose new rules on the use of data brokers, internet addresses and other identifiers in its proposed net neutrality rules next month.
The agency will begin the rulemaking process after issuing a draft rule on May 13.
The draft proposal, which would require ISPs to provide a list of all identifiers they use to track traffic and the number of requests they process per week, is the first step toward a final rule.
The FCC is also looking at whether ISPs should be required to track their users’ online activity to make sure they are complying with the rules.
The draft rule would also require internet providers to ensure that any data they process is used in the way that is intended by the law, according to a draft of the rule released Thursday.
The FCC’s draft rule does not include a requirement for ISPs to share their data with the government, which it has been urging for years.
Internet providers are already required to comply with a number of government requests, including when they seek to prevent or throttle online content, block ads or otherwise interfere with users’ ability to access the internet.
However, the FCC is looking for a way to require internet service providers to use data for law enforcement and to share data with a third party that has a legal right to know about it, such as the government.
Privacy advocates say the FCC should be requiring internet providers not to share information with third parties, which they argue would help prevent the NSA and other intelligence agencies from collecting and storing information.
“I think it’s very important for us to have strong rules on how ISPs are supposed to use their information, but it’s important to make them clear that they should not share it with anyone other than the government,” said Caitlin Hall, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
“That’s why I think the FCC would be better served by requiring internet service companies to share the information with the public rather than simply requiring them to put a list on the internet where you can look up who has access to what information.”
The FCC previously proposed requiring ISPs to use a “reasonable technical method” to determine if their data is being used for law-enforcement purposes.
Critics of the FCC’s proposal say the agency has been silent on the issue.
A draft of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed net-neutrality rules shows the agency is working on an internet-neutral rules proposal.
The plan would require internet services to give consumers an opt-out of their service if they do not want it to be used for government purposes.
Internet service providers could also be required under the draft to provide customers with a “data retention” tool, which will allow internet service customers to keep a record of all the websites and other data they have accessed.
The draft also calls for ISPs not to block access to websites that are not “necessary” for customers’ access to them, and it would require service providers not just to protect the privacy of their users, but also the security of their network.
The proposal would also provide “fair use” protections to allow for content that is free from copyright infringement.
The National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group, said in a statement that it was “delighted that the FCC has recognized that broadband is a service and that consumers deserve to be able to access it without being tracked or targeted by their ISP.”
The NCTA says the proposal would protect the right to access information on the Internet and protect the open internet by ensuring that broadband providers do not unfairly restrict access to content.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Borys Wrzesnewski on Twitter: @BorysWrzesnews