Dingell Questions FCC About ATSC 3.0 Impact

Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell asks FCC’s Pai about what types of information would be collected from consumers to implement targeted advertisements under the new standard, and how the data would be handled and protected to ensure consumers’ privacy.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) on Wednesday sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai raising questions about the new broadcast technology standard, ATSC 3.0, and the privacy implications it will have on consumers across the country.

Dingell asked questions about what types of information would be collected from consumers to implement targeted advertisements under the new standard, and how the data would be handled and protected to ensure consumers’ privacy.

She also asked how many television sets will be obsolete when the new standard is fully implemented. Dingell also sent a similar letter to Gordon Smith, CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

“Broadcasters and other stakeholders deserve credit in developing this new standard that will undoubtedly bring significant benefits to consumers including more localized safety warnings and improved picture quality,” wrote Dingell.

“However, ATSC 3.0 is also much more comprehensive than just improving picture quality and safety warnings. It is my understanding that the new standard also contemplates targeted advertisements that would be ‘relevant to you and what you actually might want to see.’

“This raises questions about how advertisers and broadcasters will gather the demographic information from consumers which are necessary to do targeted advertisements, and what privacy protections will be in place for consumers.

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“It is also my understanding that ATSC 3.0 will not be backwards-compatible, which means consumers will be forced to replace their televisions if it is widely adopted.” 

Dingell also noted that the word “privacy” is not mentioned a single time in the entire ATSC 3.0 draft order released by the FCC, and argued that the commission’s technical review of the order cannot be separated from a review of privacy and security concerns.

The FCC is set to consider the draft order during an open commission meeting on Nov. 16.

“This continues a troubling pattern of indifference at the FCC towards consumer privacy,” Dingell continued. “To better address these concerns, I respectfully request answers to the following questions so that we call better understand the impacts of ATSC 3.0 on the consumer and how the FCC intends to consider privacy issues moving forward.”

The full letter is available here


Comments (4)

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Amneris Vargas says:

November 9, 2017 at 8:55 am

Good and fair questions. Answers: Opt-in and transparency regarding data collect. Bi-modal chipsets and gateway devices regarding 1.0 TV obsolescence. Remember, smart phones collect 20x data and PII.

Erik Stone says:

November 9, 2017 at 9:51 am

Didn’t they just pass a law making it mandatory to run two feeds for a set amount of years to make sure your concern of people buying a new tv to catch the feed.

Thomas Hubler says:

November 9, 2017 at 11:23 am

That’s the “nightlight” that some propose. While in theory a good idea, I highly doubt that any of the networks will allow their feeds to be broadcast in SD wide for such purpose. Explain to all those viewers while all of a sudden
they no longer get HD programs and need to buy a new tv or converter. And oh yea, how about all of those MVPD’s, especially mom and pops.

Ellen Samrock says:

November 9, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Instead of lazily asking questions, it would be nice of Rep. Dingell would do a little online research. The NAB PILOT initiative spells out how most of the targeted advertising capabilities of 3.0 would work. The collection of data is voluntary (yes, the viewer would have to opt-in). The data collected would be, zip code, age, gender and income bracket and the information would be stored on the user’s receiver to be used by apps that are on the device itself, not anywhere else. This description is readily available on the ATSC.org website. The issue of backward compatibility is fully addressed in the FCC’s R&O.


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