In a decision that has already upset privacy advocates everywhere, the United States Senate yesterday voted down Federal Communications Commission rules that restricted Internet service providers (ISPs) from selling customers' browsing data to third parties without their explicit consent.
USA senatorsvoted along party lines - 50 Republicans voted yes and 48 Democrats voted no - to approvea resolution that stops the rules from going into effect. If that passes, it will only require President Trump's signature to take effect. "We support this step towards reversing the FCC's misguided approach", the Internet & Television Association (NCTA) wrote in a statement.
As the Washington Post points out, industry groups were pleased. They don't need our permission, nor do they need to tell us they are doing this. S.J.Res 34 allows telecom companies to gather whatever they want, and sell it to whomever they want, more or less without restriction.
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Specifically, the FCC's rules want to force ISPs to have to get consent from the user before they can sell or share data pertaining to that user - including browsing history, app usage, and personal information that could include financial or health details. PureVPN provides its users with security against hackers, data-snoopers, unauthorized surveillance, DDoS attacks, IP leaks and more. "Today's vote restores the privacy protections that consumers enjoyed prior to October 2016". "How it is used should be the consumer's choice, not the choice of some corporate algorithm".
Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the newly Republican-led FCC, also welcomed the Senate vote, telling reporters afterward: "My own core goal is to make sure that [the] uniform expectation of privacy is vindicated through the use of a regulatory framework that establishes a more level playing field". The rules were approved previous year over objections from Republicans who argued the regulations went too far. The bill uses the Congressional Review Act to prevent the regulations from going into effect. The House of Representatives must now stand up for consumers and against the CRA resolution to throw away internet privacy protections. Moreover, the FCC may interpret this language in a way that forecloses it from addressing future privacy abuses or changing business practices.
"At the FCC, consumers are much more protected with strong privacy rules that give (internet service providers) clear rules as to what's fair and what's foul", Dallas Harris, a policy fellow with consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said last month.