Congress Moves to Overturn Online Privacy Rules

So much is happening in the broadband world. I try to focus on Minnesota – because there are only so many hours to the day. But some news will impact us all – such as vote to remove online privacy rules. I’ve tried to find two views of the news to share.

Here’s the news from the Benton Foundation (They link to a number of related articles too.) …

Congress completed its overturning of the nation’s strongest internet privacy protections for individuals in a victory for telecommunications companies, which can track and sell a customer’s online information with greater ease. In a 215-to-205 vote largely along party lines, House Republicans moved to dismantle rules created by the Federal Communications Commission in October.

Those rules, which had been slated to go into effect later this year, had required broadband providers to receive permission before collecting data on a user’s online activities. The action, which follows a similar vote in the Senate, will next be brought to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign the bill into law. A swift repeal may be a prelude to further deregulation of the telecommunications industry. Broadband companies immediately celebrated the House vote. They promised they would honor their voluntary privacy policies, noting that violations would be subject to lawsuits.

And here’s the news from CNNTech

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to repeal Internet privacy protections that were approved by the Federal Communications Commission in the final days of the Obama administration.

The Senate voted along party lines to undo the rules last week. The resolution now goes to Trump’s desk. The White House said Tuesday it “strongly supports” the repeal. …

e privacy rules were intended to give consumers extra control over their personal data online at a time when everything from smartphones to refrigerators can be connected to the Internet.

Opponents of the privacy rules argued it would place an undue burden on broadband providers while leaving large Internet companies like Facebook (FBTech30) and Google (GOOGLTech30) free to collect user data without asking permission.

Representative Michael Burgess, a Republican, described the rules as “duplicative regulation” on the House floor and said the repeal would “level the playing field for an increasingly anti-competitive market.”

But rather than apply similar protections to more businesses, the Republican-controlled Congress voted to scrap the rules entirely.

Here is what Senator Franken had to say…

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who has made protecting online privacy and hammering big media companies key issues in his tenure in the Senate, was ready to roll up his sleeves alongside Markey.

“The interest of consumers in Minnesota and across our country should always come before those of big corporations,” said Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.). “That’s why I’ve long championed an internet that’s open, accessible, and protects Americans’ fundamental right to privacy. I strongly believe that corporations shouldn’t be able to secretly collect, share, or auction off your private information to the highest bidder without your permission, which is why I advocated for federal rules to prohibit broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from misusing customers’ personal data.

“Today, my Republican colleagues voted to kill these internet privacy rules, which is extremely disappointing. As the top Democrat on the Privacy Subcommittee, I’m going to keep fighting these efforts to undermine the rights of Minnesota consumers because I work for them, not deep-pocketed corporations.”

Popular Mechanics posted an article with steps to help you protect your information…

Your ISP may not need your permission to sell your data, but you can still go to them and tell them not to do it. The catch, of course, is this requires you to be proactive, and there’s no real guarantee that this will protect you completely. Still, do it. Get on the phone or visit the website of your ISP and opt out of every ad-related thing—and into every privacy-related thing—you can find. The process can be a little arduous—often requiring the use of your ISP-given email address that you probably never use—and it may not take effect immediately either. All the better reason to do it now.

They go into greater detail – it’s worth checking out.

This entry was posted in Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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