Senate votes to kill privacy rules guarding your online info

Samsung Galaxy S5 is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress

Samsung Galaxy S5 is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress

In October of past year, the Federal Communications Commission barred internet service providers from selling the browsing histories of their customers without consent.

Those rules were politically tenuous, however: That FCC also voted strictly along party lines to pass them, tempting a Republican backlash.

While the measure would still need to clear a House vote and be signed by President Donald Trump, the idea is raising questions about what - if anything - people can do to protect their privacy.

The Republican-led Senate moved Thursday to undo Obama-era regulations that would have forced internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to ask customers' permission before they could use or sell much of their personal information.

ISPs including those represented by NCTA: The Internet & Television Association, support the CRA effort, as well as having the FCC reverse the broadband privacy regs if Congress does not do it first. "So going forward, we will work together to establish a technology-neutral privacy framework for the online world".

The vote overturns a Federal Communications Commission rule that banned such activity. They said broadband providers would have to operate under tougher privacy requirements than digital-advertising behemoths like Google and Facebook. According to Flake, his resolution (PDF) seeks to prevent the FCC from expanding its regulatory jurisdiction and impose data restrictions on ISPs, not to lessen existing consumer privacy regulations.

Others noted that the measure would also bar the FCC from advancing "substantially similar" rules in the future, which Kate Tummarello, a policy analyst for the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, said "would be a crushing loss for online privacy".

But a big telecom matter found its way into the schedule: privacy rules for Internet service providers.

Internet service providers had objected to the FCC action, arguing that it subjected them to tougher regulations than those imposed by the Federal Trade Commission on internet search engines and social media sites. It is no wonder that broadband providers want to be able to sell this information to the highest bidder without consumers' knowledge or consent.

Privacy advocates condemned the vote, saying that it killed important consumer protections. The FCC, now under Chairman Ajit Pai during the Trump administration, held up the implementation of those rules, and now the Senate has voted to strike them down with their powers under the Congressional Review Act.

Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN, said: "Internet users should regularly delete cookies, install antivirus and anti-tracking software, and make sure not to enter personal passcodes and credit card information when using open Wi-Fi networks".

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