US House votes to repeal ISP privacy regulations

Posted April 11, 2017

"Companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements", said the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a blog post.

The Senate already approved reversing the rule. It still needs President Donald Trumps signature.

The EFF and other supporters of the privacy rules also point out that in many markets consumer choices are limited when it comes to home broadband, so you often can't just switch providers if you don't like their privacy policies. "Your employer can just buy this information, your browsing information, your texts, who you're texting, who you're calling, you can just buy it", he said.

Republican commissioners have said the rules would unfairly give websites the ability to harvest more data than internet service providers.

Proponents argue that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is the proper regulatory vehicle. Still, Republicans in Congress voted to allow these corporations to profit off of their consumers, selling simple data to advertisers in order to make a quick buck.

That's important because the biggest broadband companies want to build ad businesses to rival those tech giants.

Internet companies like Google don't have to ask users' permission before tracking what sites they visit.

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The House voted 215 to 205 in favor of striking the regulations, following the Senate's resolution to do so last week. One service, NordVPN, says it has seen a "sharp increase" in consumer interest in the days since the Senate vote.

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Critics say the rules opened the door to potential government rate regulation, tighter oversight and would provide fewer incentives to invest billions in broadband infrastructure.

Last week, Pai said consumers would have privacy protections even without the Obama internet provider rules, but most sane people think that you must be smoking something to believe that is true. People can choose not to use those websites.

Opponents to the laws suggest that broadband providers would face an undue burden in comparison with other large internet firms such as Facebook and Google, who are now free to collect data without permission. The rule was scheduled to go into effect later this year.

The tech industry, which has been relatively quiet on issues like net neutrality under the new administration, also expressed dismay at the vote.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the FTC has acted as America's online privacy regulator since the dawn of the internet. He called the rule an effort to strip the agency of that role.

Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas joined Faso in parting ways with his Republican colleagues on the issue. Now the House has gone ahead and voted the same way, so internet users' privacy is now up for sale.

The American Civil Liberties Union urged Trump to veto the resolution. That means the regulations will nearly certainly be rolled back, when the resolution is sent to the President for signing into law.