Internet privacy repeal headed to Oval Office

AP EXPLAINS: What the death of broadband privacy rules means
Lawmakers Roll Back Privacy Rules for Internet Carriers
Author

04 April, 2017

On Tuesday both houses of Congress voted to repeal FCC privacy regulations that were only adopted a year ago.

There are limited ways consumers can protect themselves from having their Web histories collected and sold by their Internet service providers, who are about to get government-sanctioned free reign over their Internet traffic. Consumers, the thinking went, should have more of a choice about the kind of information their broadband providers can control and sell, because in the modern age they may not have much choice about whether to use the internet or what company to buy access from. President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

The Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, a critic of the broadband privacy rules said they could discourage new investments.

The repeal of the rule doesn't necessarily mean your browsing history is up for bids.

The White House said Thursday it supports Congress' controversial decision to repeal Internet privacy protections, claiming it will create an "equal playing field" between Internet service providers and tech companies. "We did not do it before the FCC's rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so".

Republican commissioners have said the rules would unfairly give websites the ability to harvest more data than internet service providers. The Senate had already voted to the block it.

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The Senate voted along party lines to undo the rules last week.

Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, "worries that personal data could be used for discriminatory advertising practices, like showing ads for high-interest loans only to low-income consumers, or prices for products that vary based on the user's income information".

The resolution has been passed over to President Trump for approval.

"You got all this information that's just floating around on this cyber highway, and anyone can reach in and grab it", Clark said.

"Overwhelmingly, the American people do not agree with Republicans that this information should be sold, and it certainly should not be sold without your permission", she said. These companies are interested in collecting customer data so they can build businesses around targeted online advertising. "While the bigger players that are out there might be heralding this as a win for them, our view is this is similar to your financial data, or your healthcare data".

Doug Brake, senior telecommunications and policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, where he specializes in broadband policy, wireless enforcement and spectrum-sharing mechanisms.


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