Trump signs bill blocking online privacy regulation

Posted April 05, 2017

As promised, the president signed a bill Monday repealing a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirement that your internet service provider ask permission before tracking and selling your data. However, as promised, President Trump has now signed the resolution into law repealing FCC rules to protect consumers from privacy invasions by ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable.

Republican FCC commissioners also seem happy with the repeal as they said that the Obama rules would have given an unfair ability to websites to harvest more data than the IPs, reported the publication.

This new regulation sparks from the Congressional Review Act which allows for Congress to repeal any previous passed regulations.

The Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is a critic of the broadband privacy rules and has said he wants to roll them back.

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. The reason is, most Americans "believe their private information should be just that". Pai could initiate a new rule-making process at the FCC to overhaul net neutrality, or Congress could move forward with legislation.

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The rules-which codified and expanded on existing online privacy protections-were passed by the FCC in October of last year and set to go into effect later this year. This happened because the U.S. internet service providers argued that the FCC's rules favored tech giants like Google and Facebook and restricted the ISPs from getting the same privileges.

Most notably, the privacy rule would have prevented internet providers from using, sharing, or selling a subscriber's web browsing history without first getting their explicit permission.

Providers would have been allowed share and sell non-sensitive information - such as names, IP address and anything else not on the sensitive list - under the privacy rules, but customers would have been allowed to opt-out.

AT&T also blogged about the topic last Friday, saying that much of the handwringing that occurred after the Senate and House votes is off base. "Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were created to benefit one group of favoured companies, not online consumers". This includes information like one's search history-information about health, finances, and other private matters-as well as their location and the applications they use.

Democrats and privacy advocates have argued this approach effectively hands over the customer's personal information to the highest bidder. "Reversing these landmark privacy protections would be the antithesis of a pro-consumer administration". These companies, known as Internet Service Providers, would be able to monitor what their customers view online, where they shop and what they purchase, even what shows and movies they streamed online.