wnol.info January 22 2018

Senate quashes an Obama-era regulation to protect your privacy online

January 22 2018, 08:26 | Irvin Gilbert

Samsung Galaxy S5 is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress

Samsung Galaxy S5 is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress

The Senate overturned late Obama-era rules Thursday meant to protect consumer privacy from internet service providers that want to sell it.

The Federal Communication Commission's move to stop internet service providers from collecting customers' personal information without consent has itself been halted, as reported by BuzzFeed and The New York Times. The rules also restricted the disclosure of medical and financial information, as well as children's information and social security numbers, The Washington Post reports.

This data could have then be either exploited by the internet providers themselves or sold to other data brokers and advertising companies.

The broadband providers argued companies like Google don't have to ask permission before tracking what sites you visit.

But some privacy advocates and Democratic lawmakers view that stance as disingenuous.

Privacy groups criticized the Senate bill, saying Americans should have a right to use the Internet without fear corporations are tracking what they search and view.

The privacy rules had yet to go into effect, and in fact, the new FCC chairman - Ajit Pai, a Republican who previously served as a top Verizon lawyer - had already blocked its implementation.

As to how Senate members can even justify what they are about to do, their go-to response is that the current rules are supposedly confusing to consumers. "But simply a recognition of the importance of consumer consent".

To officially kill the FCC's privacy rules, the House of Representatives, which is also controlled by the Republican party, will need to conduct a separate vote.

"This vote is a clear sign that American interests come second to those of broadband providers", Dallas Harris, policy fellow at Public Knowledge said in a statement".

"Senate Republicans just struck a massive blow against everyone who uses the internet, dismantling rules protecting people's private information from unauthorized use and abuse by cable and phone companies", said Gaurav Laoria, counsel at the nonprofit Free Press. 34 by a close margin of 50:48, which would negate the privacy rules, and the authority of the Congressional Review Act will prevent the enactment of any similar rule. According to Flake, his resolution (PDF) seeks to prevent the FCC from expanding its regulatory jurisdiction and impose data restrictions on ISPs, not to lessen existing consumer privacy regulations.

"The Senate's action represents a critical step toward re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online", said Brian Dietz, vice president of the Internet and Television Association, a trade group that's lobbying for passage of the joint resolution.

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