Published: Wed, April 05, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Providers can collect, sell data on you

The rules protected consumer data and privacy by requiring Internet Service Providers to ask for user consent before they could use their browsing history for advertising or other purposes.

Still, the bill was passed in both the House and Senate last week, with Republicans voting to overturn the regulations. The resolution barely passed in Congress last week, with Republicans siding with internet service providers who claimed the regulations were unfair.

"President Trump and Congress have appropriately invalidated one part of the Obama-era plan for regulating the Internet", said FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Trump appointee.

Consumer advocates also fear the companies will be a rich target for hackers.

Pai is alluding to the notion that companies like Google and Facebook have the ability to sell people's personal data to advertisers, while the clarity and degree of consent is sometimes dubious. It enshrines surveillance capitalism into law, and by including a provision preventing the FCC from protecting our privacy in the future, makes it very hard for future governments to fix this. Now broadband providers and wireless carriers can track and sell a customer's browsing history without first getting permission. The bill removes protections that were approved by the FCC in the final days of the Obama administration but had not yet gone into effect. We urge state lawmakers and technology providers to look for ways to shore up individual privacy until Congress is ready to listen to the consumers who don't want to trade away their basic privacy rights in order to access the Internet.

President Donald Trump on Monday quietly signed legislation eliminating federal rules that would have prevented internet providers from collecting and profiting off customers' personal and financial information.

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And AT&Tdirected concerned customers to its existing privacy policy, which states that the company "will not sell your personal information to anyone, for any objective".

"Consumers deserve and expect one consistent set of online privacy protections and this action helps clear the way for a more uniform approach across the entire internet ecosystem", said Jonathan Spalter, the CEO of USTelecom, a Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group for the industry, in a statement.

Supporters of the change have argued that keeping browsing information private would stop innovation and that the rule was unnecessary red tape.

Killing the FCC's rule means "there will be no privacy rules governing broadband providers", FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Terrell McSweeny, a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, wrote Friday in the Los Angeles Times.

He said that the FCC would be working with the FTC to "restore the FTC's authority to police Internet service providers' privacy practices".

But social media and internet search websites don't have access to almost as much data as internet service providers.

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