The Senate passed a joint resolution on Thursday, barring the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing rules passed a year ago that would ban internet, cable, and mobile providers from selling your data without your consent.
One Democratic senator said in a reaction that ISP now apparently stood for "information sold for profit" or "invading subscriber privacy". The regulations, passed in October 2016, required internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast to ask customers' permission to collect, use and sell sensitive personal information for advertising purposes such as web browsing history or app usage data.
Fellow trade group, the Internet and Television Association, also lauded the vote on its website as an important step for "re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online". "So going forward, we will work together to establish a technology-neutral privacy framework for the online world".
If it becomes law, the measure will mean that ISPs are treated differently from web companies like Google and Facebook, which are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.
But regulations' supporters like Sen.
The Senate just voted to rescind the regulations and to give the Internet providers what they've been lobbying for. The resolution would undo privacy rules that ensure consumers control how their most sensitive information is used.
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But Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), who sponsored the legislation to roll back the FCC's action, said that the rules had "the potential to limit customers' choice, stifle innovation and jeopardize data security by destabilizing the internet ecosystem". "We should not have to forgo our fundamental right to privacy just because our homes and phones are connected to the internet".
"The rule that was overturned today passed the FCC by a 3-2 vote ten days before the November elections despite strenuous objections from throughout the Internet community".
The providers, including Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and Charter, contend that Google is able to track us, and they simply want to do the same.
The lone Democrats at the FCC and the FTC - Mignon Clyburn and Terrell McSweeny, respectively - said in a joint statement Thursday that the resolution "will frustrate the FCC's future efforts to protect the privacy of voice and broadband customers", and will create a "massive gap in consumer protection law". But broadband providers don't now fall under FTC jurisdiction, and advocates say the FTC has historically been a weaker agency than the FCC.
Most congressional headlines are focused on health care this week, but another bill is on the move that could kill off internet privacy protections.
The resolution proposed by Flake says nothing about protecting consumer privacy.