Congress Votes on Giving Away Your Internet Privacy Today

Miranda GreerMar 29, 2017

"This resolution is a direct attack on consumer rights, on privacy, on rules that afford basic protection against intrusive and illegal interference with consumers' use of social media sites and websites that often they talk for granted", Democrat senator Richard Blumenthal said in a statement before the vote.

"Advertisers and marketers are lining up to get access to all the information that's now available to us", said Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, which advocates for tougher internet privacy measures. It is argued that if this bill is signed by Donald Trump and passed in the Assembly then it would be very hard for Federal Communications Commission to pass any other bill without changing the U.S. bill.

Facebook and Google are now held to different standards because they're regulated by the Federal Trade Commission while internet providers are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. The ad listed the names of the 50 senators who voted to pass the resolution and called on citizens to contact their representatives to protest the resolution and "protect broadband privacy". However, last week the US Senate voted to overturn the rules. As a result, ISPs would be barred from using this data, unless the consumer explicitly consented.

Republicans and industry groups have blasted that discrepancy.

Supporters of the regulations say they were necessary after the FCC reclassified broadband as a regulated service, taking privacy enforcement away from the FTC, as part of net neutrality rules in early 2015. It's not hard to see why ISPs oppose privacy regulations, especially in the wake of online entities such as Google and Facebook. Under the regulations, many more people likely would have chosen not to allow their to be shared than if they had to take an extra step of asking a company to stop sharing or selling their information. "This vote to dismantle and kill the protections put in place for a person's private information is a real danger to consumers, who, for years now, have been on the losing end of privacy battles". The legislation would also bar the FCC from ever again acting to protect users' data from internet providers.

"The FCC privacy rules are just another example of burdensome rules that hurt more than they help", said Sen. But what's really at stake here isn't the thought that you might get to keep some of your information private.

Monitor and sell all your location data, search history, app usage, and browsing habits to advertisers without your permission. The FCC's sister agency, the Federal Trade Commission, can bring privacy complaints against web-based companies that aren't ISPs, but the FTC doesn't create privacy regulations, instead typically taking action on a case-by-case basis when companies violate their own privacy promises.

This is a golden opportunity for tech-giants - such as Google and Facebook - to act as powerful oligopolies.

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