President Trump on Monday signed a resolution that scuttles a set of privacy rules adopted by the FCC previous year, including requirements that internet providers obtain consumers' consent before sharing or selling their browsing information and other data.
Those rules would have barred internet service providers - not just cable companies, but also wireless data providers - from using or selling highly sensitive user information (including geographic location, health or financial information, Social Security numbers, browsing and app-usage histories) without explicit permission from customers. This allows Congress to fast-track the repeal of regulations passed by the previous administration by requiring a simple majority vote in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Ajit Pai, the agency chairman appointed by Trump, has said he wanted to roll back the broadband privacy rules.
Lewis added, "These companies can also force Americans to pay to preserve their online data, as some companies have posited".
However, privacy groups such as American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which backed the FCC and its efforts under Obama, consider the resolution as a major setback.
We'll continue pushing for these specific privacy protections where we can. "We did not do it before the FCC's (Federal Communication Commission) rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so".
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"The only people in the United States who want less internet privacy are CEOs and lobbyists for giant telecom companies who want to rake in money by spying on all of us and selling the private details of our lives to marketing companies".
Even if the legislation doesn't pass, some internet providers are trying to assuage their customers' fears by saying they have no plans to trade your browsing history for cash.
The arguments by the Republicans do not seem to make complete sense as Internet providers are responsible for delivery of data while Facebook and Google are companies with different services for the customers. The privacy rules, which had not yet gone into effect, would have required providers to get your permission before collecting and sharing your personal data.
The White House has signaled it supports axing the Obama-era rules.
New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, however, says the move reverses "privacy regulations created to benefit one group of favored companies over another group of disfavored companies".
Pai said the FCC would work with the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees websites, to restore the "FTCs authority to police internet service providers privacy practices". That information would be particularly useful for advertisers and marketers. "Reversing these landmark privacy protections would be the antithesis of a pro-consumer administration".
But social media and internet search websites don't have access to almost as much data as internet service providers.