Congress votes away Internet privacy regulations in favor of ISPs

Brittany A. Roston - Mar 28, 2017, 6:18 pm CDT
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Congress votes away Internet privacy regulations in favor of ISPs

Following the Senate’s lead, the House has just voted to end Internet privacy regulations that would have required Internet service providers to get permission before selling a customer’s Internet data. The resolution will go into effect if Trump signs it; following the vote, the White House issued a statement saying the president’s advisors will recommend doing so.

At the heart of the matter lies a final ruling issued by the FCC last year. Titled ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services,’ the rule would require Internet service providers to get their customers’ permission before using and selling their sensitive Internet data. This data includes things like Web browsing history, app usage, service-tier data, and email addresses.

While the rules were intended to protect consumers and the sensitive information that gets get harvested during Web usage, it would have cut off a potential revenue stream for ISPs. That offended certain politicians and industry advocates, which argued against the rule as too burdensome on businesses.

If the new resolution goes into effect, the burden will be placed on consumers to opt out of such data practices — something many Internet users aren’t aware of. Unlike data collection by companies like Facebook — which was cited as one of the reasons for opposing the rule — users aren’t easily able to change their Internet service provider whereas they can choose to stop using a social network.

Though the resolution hasn’t yet been signed by the President, many individuals have already expressed ample concern over the move, and some VPNs report seeing a big spike in sign-ups. The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently published a list of ways ISPs could use customer data if the resolution does pass, including selling info to marketers, hijacking search results to get revenue from third-party services, inserting ads based on Internet traffic, preloading logging software onto devices like smartphones, and using supercookies.


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