President Donald Trump took the final step Monday to set aside rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission to protect the online data of U.S. consumers.
Trump has signed a resolution backed by the House and the Senate that 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. That means companies like AT&T, Comcast or Verizon can now collect and legally share your data with paying third parties without consent.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution signed by Trump originated with Sen. Jeff Flake, (R-Az.) who describes it 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.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in a post last month, listed five “creepy things” ISPs would be able to do if the resolution passed.
Aside from selling customer data to marketers, ISPS will also be able to hijack people’s searches.
“In other words, ISPs were hijacking their customers’ search queries and redirecting them to a place customers hadn’t asked for, all while pocketing a little cash on the side,” the blog post reads. “Oh, and the ISPs in question hadn’t bothered to tell their customers they’d be sending their search traffic to a third party that might record some of it.”
ISPs will also be able to snoop through customers’ traffic and insert ads, taking targeting to a whole new level.
“ISPs have every incentive to snoop through your traffic, record what you’re browsing, and then inject ads into your traffic based on your browsing history,” the blog post explains.
Also on the “creepy” list is pre-installing software on the Smartphones of its customers and recording every URL they visit as well as inserting undetectable, undeletable tracking cookies in all of their HTTP traffic.