President to approve law killing rules meant to prevent internet service providers from selling consumers web browsing and app storage histories to advertisers
President Donald Trump was expected to sign legislation on Wednesday allowing internet service providers to sell the browsing habits of their customers.
The move, which critics charge will fundamentally undermine customer privacy, overrules an Obama-era rule issued last October that was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers( ISPs) could share their information.
Those rules, drawn up by the Federal Communications Commission( FCC ), were scheduled to take effect by the end of 2017 and would have forced ISPs to get peoples permission before selling their data to advertisers and others.
Fifteen Republican transgressed ranks to vote against the controversial measure on Tuesday evening but the House of Representatives voted 215 to 205 to approve a resolution that uses the Congressional Review Act( CRA) to prevent the privacy regulations from taking effect.
The CRA lets an incoming president to overturn previous executive branch regulations and has been used by Trump to repeal a number of Obamas key initiatives.
The repeal reached the presidents desk on Wednesday morning and the White House has signalled Trumps clear intention to sign it.
Without the FCC broadband protections, ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon and AT& T are free to track your browsing behaviour and sell that data on to advertisers without permission. This represents a huge treasure trove of personal data, including your health fears, shopping habits and visits to porn sites. ISPs can find out where you bank, your political views and sexual orientation simply based on the websites you visit. The fact that you are looking at a website at all can also disclose when youre at home and when youre not.
Give me one good reason why Comcast should know what my mothers medical problems are, told congressman Mike Capuano during the hearing before the vote, explaining how he had researched her condition after a trip to the doctor. Just last week I bought underwear on the internet. Why should you know what sizing I take? Or the colour?
The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, told: Americans learned last week that agents of Russian intelligence hacked into email accounts to obtain secrets on American companies, government officials and more.
This resolution would not only objective specific requirements you take reasonable measures to protect consumers sensitive info, but prevents the FCC from legislating a similar requirement and leaves no other agency capable of protecting consumers.
But Ajit Pai, Trumps newly appointed head of the FCC, was contended that the Obama era rules were an example of regulatory overreach and that another regulator, the Federal Trade Commission, already polices online privacy rules.
Moving forward, I want the American people to know that the FCC will work with the FTC to ensure that consumers online privacy is protected though a consistent and comprehensive framework. In my view, the most effective ways to achieve that result would be to return jurisdiction over broadband providers privacy practises to the FTC, with its decades of experience and expertise in this area, he said.
Those in favor of repealing the privacy rules argued that it levelled the playing field for internet service providers who want to get into the advertising business like Google and Facebook. According to ISPs, scrapping the rules would allow them to show the user more relevant ad and offers, which would give the companies better return on the investment they have attained in infrastructure. They argue that web browsing history and app utilization should not count as sensitive information.
But privacy advocates and consumer watchdogs instantly joined Democrat in condemning the policy shift.
Today Congress proved once again that they care more about the desire of the corporations that fund their campaigns than they do about the safety and security of their constituents, told Evan Greer, campaign director of digital rights group Fight for the Future.
Gutting these privacy rules wont just allow internet service providers to spy on us and sell our personal information, it will also enable more unconstitutional mass government surveillance, and fundamentally undermine our cybersecurity by making our sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, and foreign governments, she added.
Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, called the vote a disturbing rubber stamp from conservative policymakers aimed at dismantling needed consumer protections for corporate profit.
With the approval of the president, corporations will now be handed the ability to share the sensitive, personal information of millions of Americans without their consent and impede the FCCs role as a consumer watchdog far into the future, she said.
Read more: www.theguardian.com