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California residents in rural and low-income areas have been the worst hit by the federal government’s broadband privacy rules, with the state seeing a 25 percent decline in broadband subscribers over the past year, according to a report by The Washington Post.
The numbers come after the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ruled in January that Comcast must turn over customer data to the bureau, which is tasked with protecting consumers from financial abuse.
Comcast has appealed the decision and filed a motion to stay the ruling, saying the company doesn’t intend to comply with the CFPB’s ruling.
A Comcast spokesman told The Washington Sun on Monday that the company’s subscriber numbers in the state have remained flat over the last year.
“While we continue to have customers in California, we do not have any plans to expand service to any more markets,” the spokesman said in an email.
The decline is attributed to the Censys network management service, which the company is using to share customer data with third-party providers, the spokesman told the newspaper.
The bureau’s ruling capped a year in which Comcast’s net neutrality violations prompted widespread criticism and public outcry.
The federal regulator also ordered the company to take down a website that included an ad touting the company as the country’s most popular cable provider.
The CFPBS ruling was hailed by consumer advocates, who said it could have a ripple effect on the company and its cable partners.
Comcast had been able to offer broadband to consumers in most of the state, but now the bureau wants it to do so only in the poorest areas.
“Comcast’s practices of not sharing customer data have made it difficult for many of our customers to access the full range of online services, from high-speed internet to local public libraries,” said Susan Crawford, president of the Center for Digital Democracy, in a statement Monday.
“Comcast and other cable providers need to be more transparent about the data they collect and how they use it, and they need to do a better job of complying with the federal privacy rules.”
The bureau ruled that Comcast had failed to demonstrate that its network management software was working properly.
The company had argued that it was a common practice for the government to monitor the network management of cable operators and providers.