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Trump expected to sign bill undoing Obama-era Internet privacy rules
April 28 2017, 02:03 | Alonzo Simpson
Congress Rolls Back Internet Privacy Protections 05:45
On Wednesday, the White House said President Trump plans to sign the bill. A VPN set-up encrypts your web traffic as it flows from your device, through your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and to a private service.
VPNs have drawbacks. They funnel all user traffic through one point, so they are an attractive target for hackers and spies.
Nevertheless, proponents have overstated the benefits of the FCC's now-threatened privacy rule.
"Last year, the Federal Communications Commission pushed through, on a party-line vote, privacy regulations created to benefit one group of favoured companies over another group of disfavored companies", Ajit Pai, head of the FCC, said in a statement.
"We want people to use the Internet, to view it as a safe space to communicate with others, to express their political viewpoints, to carry out these vitally important everyday activities, and to do so without fear that the information that they share with their internet service provider will be used to harm them in some way", Laura Moy concluded.
"While for the average resident [the bill] means a lack of privacy about consumer choices or perhaps embarrassing browsing history, it's profoundly damaging for marginalized communities already targeted by the Trump administration", he said.
When you pay a company to carry out a service you're essentially employing them to do a job.
For consumers seeking privacy, Luehr suggests deleting cookies after browsing, using private browser settings, and researching companies' privacy policies.
As you can imagine, the ruling is a big victory for ISPs. However, Ajit Pai, the FCC chair, a Republican and a former Verizon lawyer, has been outspoken in his opposition to the rules, and is unlikely to support strict regulations around sharing customer web data.
Unlike Google, Facebook and their affiliated sites, which internet users can avoid with a little inconvenience, internet service providers are a requirement to access the internet, and in most markets they hold a monopoly or near-monopoly.
This would be a major reversal for U.S. policy that has historically been set up to facilitate data collection rather than consumer protection. In most parts of the country, users have few options of broadband internet service providers to choose from.
The American Civil Liberties Union urged Trump to veto the resolution.
Speaking to a cyber-security expert, the publication reports that selling the user data that ISPs mine would be tricky since these companies usually have their own privacy policies that could prevent them from doing so.
Eckersley warned that the new resolution rolling back privacy protections essentially gives broadband providers the greenlight to "go full steam ahead and do maximum tracking".
At the end of the day, the willingness of the FCC and the FTC to use their authority effectively is what will determine whether the consumers are protected.
"What people are most concerned about is that the ISPs can sell your browsing history without your consent", said Jeff Brown, a quality control engineer for The Nerdery.
Messages seeking comment from Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Russell Township, were not returned.
However, cable companies, cellphone carriers and the advertising industry attacked the FCC rules as an overreach.
Given the House barely passed the bill 215-205, with 15 Republicans crossing the aisle to join Democrats in opposition, and the Senate passed the bill 50-48, an override would be unlikely.