Trump signs repeal of broadband internet privacy rules

Posted April 05, 2017

The bill was passed by the House and Senate last week as Republicans voted to nix the "heavy-handed" regulations. Many pro and con opinions have appeared in the last couple weeks as the Senate and the House moved the measure forward via the Congressional Review Act, and that included a statement from the White House indicating the Administration disapproved of the FCC rules.

Ajit Pai, the agency chairman appointed by Mr Trump, has said he wanted to roll back the broadband privacy rules.

Privacy advocates argue that the same rules do not apply for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and technology companies because ISPs are fundamental for accessing the internet.

The American Civil Liberties Union had said last month Congress should have opposed "industry pressure to put profits over privacy" and added "most Americans believe that their sensitive internet information should be closely guarded". "This bill ensures we protect Washingtonians' privacy". Allowing for the internet provider to sell browser history, geographical locations of users and any other online activity used by consumers. With the president's signature, the FCC's landmark rules to protect consumer privacy are wholly repealed and the FCC is barred from passing any "substantially similar" new rules. 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. Zacharia even identified that they have two programs that use web browsing data but neither involves selling customers' personal web browsing history. Mobile network operators have complained that the rule hampered efforts to monetize information on customers' behavior via advertising, giving internet-based companies such as Facebook and Google-which don't actually provide broadband services-an unfair edge.

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"Your broadband provider knows deeply personal information about you and your family - where you are, what you want to know, every site you visit, and more", stated House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in an interview before the vote on Tuesday. "Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were created to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers", Pai wrote.

Comcast said that it will update its privacy policy to make that more clear; AT&T already says in its policy that it "will not sell your personal information to anyone, for any objective". If they do, "we absolutely want to get consent from the users" before companies market or sell private data, he said.

"It has become apparent to us that they have the ability to use your information in ways to market to you, and, quite frankly, sell that information", Osmundson said of internet providers.

Trump signed the legislation with little fanfare Monday evening, a contrast to other major executive actions he has taken from the Oval Office.