House pulls the plug on internet privacy rules; Allows ISP’s to sell your information, location, browsing history

Broadband providers won’t have to get your permission before sharing your web browsing history and other personal data with marketers thanks to a vote Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Republicans in the US House of Representatives approved a resolution that prevents privacy rules passed by the FCC last year from taking effect. The vote was 215 in favor and 205 opposing the measure.

The Senate voted on Thursday to adopt the resolution to nullify the rules. All that’s left now is for President Donald Trump to sign the order. Earlier Tuesday, the White House said he plans to sign it.

This will essentially repeal the regulation passed in October days before Trump was elected. These rules would have required broadband companies to get their customers’ permission before they sell “sensitive” information about their web browsing activity, app usage or whereabouts to marketers. Because Republicans used the Congressional Review Act — a tool that enables lawmakers to expedite bills to reverse recent regulations — it also prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from adopting similar rules in the future.

Why should you care?

Proponents of the rules, like consumer advocacy groups, say this is bad news because the rules protect your privacy. Without these regulations, these groups say that broadband providers will be able to sell information about where you’ve been online, what you’re buying, the apps you’re using, and where you’re located to marketers and other third parties, like insurance companies.

“ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Charter will be free to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission — and no one will be able to protect you,” Gigi Sohn, an adviser to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, wrote in an op-ed Tuesday. Wheeler championed the privacy rules.

Meanwhile, internet service providers say the regulations are too strict and unfairly single out broadband providers, because they require broadband companies to adhere to a more stringent privacy requirement than internet companies must follow.

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