The United States House and Senate have voted to reverse rules that require internet service providers (ISPs) to receive consumers’ permission before using certain sensitive data they obtain. The resolution, S.J. 34, reverses broadband privacy rules created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year that protect user data like browsing history from being unknowingly obtained by ISPs. It passed Congress Tuesday and now awaits a signature from President Donald Trump.
Proposed by Republican Senators led by Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), the bill caused heated debate on in the Senate floor.
“How can this happen? What are the rules? Is there going to be any protection for the American people?” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), who led the creation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. “If you’re at home, if you have got Comcast or Verizon or AT&T and they’re gathering all this information about your broadband provider, every site you go to, everything you’re doing, everything your children are doing…no privacy for your family.”
While opponents viewed the bill as a step backward in online privacy, proponents say the regulation adopted last year does nothing to protect consumer privacy but “adds yet another innovation-stifling regulation to the internet,” according to Flake.
Because the joint resolution would be a product of the Congressional Review Act, no similar rules could be enacted in the future if signed by the president.