March 29, 2017
Congress Votes to Give Internet Service Providers the Right to Share Customer Data
The President of the United States is now all that stands between Internet Service Providers and your personal data.
After the House’s 215-205 vote Tuesday to revoke broadband privacy rules enacted last fall by the Federal Communications Commission, only Donald Trump has the authority to stop the assault on Americans’ online privacy.
The House backed the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution passed by the U.S. Senate last week. The resolution repeals the rules that would have forced Internet service providers (ISPs) to notify customers of the types of information they collect, explain how and for what purpose the data is collected and identify with whom they share the data.
Now, if President Donald Trump signs the legislation — and it is highly likely that he will — companies like AT&T, Comcast or Verizon can collect and share your data with paying third parties without censure. If Trump signs, the CRA will also effectively prevent the FCC from writing a new set of privacy rules.
The CRA is the baby of Sen. Jeff Flake, (R-Az.) who has described the resolution as “the first step toward restoring a consumer-friendly approach to Internet privacy regulation that empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared.”
The movement to repeal the rules put in place by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, began after new FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, took over the position in January.
Under the rules championed by Wheeler, Internet service providers (ISPs) would not only have had to obtain consent from their subscribers and explain how and for what purpose the data is collected, they would have to provide such information whenever a new customer signed up for their service.
Wheeler, in an opinion piece published by the New York Times, said the resolution gives ISPs free rein to capitalize on customers’ personal data.
“I understand that network executives want to produce the highest return for shareholders by selling consumers’ information,” Wheeler wrote. “The problem is they are selling something that doesn’t belong to them.”
“Here’s one perverse result of this action. When you make a voice call on your smartphone, the information is protected: Your phone company can’t sell the fact that you are calling car dealerships to others who want to sell you a car,” he added. “But if the same device and the same network are used to contact car dealers through the internet, that information — the same information, in fact — can be captured and sold by the network. To add insult to injury, you pay the network a monthly fee for the privilege of having your information sold to the highest bidder.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) described ISPs as “gatekeepers to the Internet.”
This gives “them incredible access to records of what you do online,” the agency said. “They shouldn’t be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent.”
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.