Online Broadband Guide
Online Broadband Guide


United States lawmakers vote to roll back internet privacy rules

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to repeal internet privacy protections approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October by the Obama administration.

Those against it say it puts profits over privacy and argue your internet provider has access to more of your private information than Facebook or Google does.

The House voted 215-205 to reject the rule, and sent the legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Republicans favoring the rollback of Federal Communications Commission regulations, enacted in 10 days before last year's presidential election, said the move is part of efforts to sweep away unnecessary regulation.

"Ignoring calls from thousands of their constituents, House Republicans just joined their colleagues in the Senate in violating internet users' privacy rights", Craig Aaron of Free Press Action Fund, said in a statement.

"The consequences of passing this resolution are clear: broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast, and others will be able to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission", said Democratic Party Representative Anna Eshoo.

Following the bill's passage in the Senate last week, the Internet & Television Association trade group showed glowing appreciation, saying that the FCC rules were "unwarranted" and that they "deny consumers consistent privacy protection online and violate competitive neutrality". They would have required ISPs to obtain customers' permission before selling or sharing their web browsing data, as well as making the corporations more accountable for preventing data breaches. Experts say federal law still requires broadband providers to protect customer information - but it doesn't spell out how or what companies must do. Broadband providers today let you "opt out" of using their data, although figuring out how to do that can be hard. "They are going to sell it to the underwear companies".

FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement praised the decision of Congress to overturn "privacy regulations created to benefit one group of favored companies over another group of disfavored companies".

The EFF and other supporters of the privacy rules also point out that in many markets consumer choices are limited when it comes to home broadband, so you often can't just switch providers if you don't like their privacy policies.

"It does provide an opportunity for President Trump", the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit organization, said in a statement Tuesday. They will enlist allies in the European Union to push the U.S.to project privacy, she said.

CDT will continue to fight for real digital privacy and security protections for everyone.

Republican backers of the measure never liked the idea that the FCC assumed jurisdiction over ISPs, and contend the new rule would have stifled innovation by what they perceived are unreasonable, stringent guidelines.

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