Last week, the Senate voted to roll back privacy restrictions that were passed shortly before President Barack Obama left office. The rules intended to prevent internet service providers from selling consumer data to third parties without their consent. In the event that this did happen, the ISPs were required to disclose to consumers who the data was sold to and how it could eventually be used. On Tuesday night, the House also voted to prevent these Obama-era rules from taking effect with the FCC. The resolution to nullify the rules passed narrowly (215 in favor and 205 against), and President Trump is expected to wholeheartedly sign the resolution.
In other words, internet providers — including Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and the rest — will soon be able to sell its customers’ browsing habits, geo location, and app usage to the highest bidder. That is, unless Trump has a change of heart, but he tends to err in the interests of corporations, and think of all the jobs that he can create by signing this order. However, they’ll arrive at the expense of every voter’s privacy. The Washington Post explains why Trump’s signature will be like gold to ISPs:
Tuesday’s vote is likely to lend momentum to a broader rollback of Obama-era policies, particularly in the technology sector. And it empowers Internet providers to enter the $83 billion market for online advertising, where the ability to collect, store, share and sell consumers’ behavioral information is directly linked to companies’ bottom line. Proponents of the repeal argue the regulations stifle innovation by forcing Internet providers to abide by unreasonably strict guidelines. But defenders of the privacy rules say they are the only thing preventing broadband companies from spying on their customers and selling that data to the highest bidder.
So, this privacy rollback will open the door to more changes/rollbacks by Congress in the technology sector, which sounds even more ominous than the virtual death of internet privacy.
Naturally, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposed the resolution and warned of its potential consequences: “Our broadband providers know deeply personal information about us and our families.” She also tweeted, “You shouldn’t have to give up every shred of privacy when you go online.” Pelosi has already begin writing letters to ISPs, including Comcast, to ask them to reject the resolution, which is a valiant effort if not a futile one.