Trump Signs Bill Blocking Online Privacy Regulation

Posted April 05, 2017

President Donald Trump on Monday signed into law a controversial measure repealing online privacy protections established by the Federal Communications Commission under the Obama Administration.

As expected, President Trump today signed a resolution that will repeal Obama-era Internet privacy regulations.

The bill rescinding the FCC's rules passed without too much trouble because of something called the Congressional Review Act (CRA). "We did not do it before the FCC's rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so", said Comcast senior vice president, deputy general counsel and chief privacy officer Gerard Lewis in a blog post. He added that these privacy rules were put in place to benefit a particular group of companies rather than consumers.

Also, as the ACLU notes, "passage of the resolution by Congress could prevent the FCC from issuing rules that are substantially the same in the future".

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It's hard to stomach the idea that Trump, a guy with countless financial ties as well as shady and still-unknown connections to Russian Federation, thinks the American people need to disclose more of their personal information.

Initially, the FCC took its role in importance and had set down numerous rules to protect people, such as those imposing net neutrality or this one, which was supposed to stop ISPs from selling of people's private browsing data to marketers.

The FCC's rules would have required that internet providers obtain an "opt in" from their subscribers before they could sell or share personal information, data gathering that has proven lucrative as a way to draw advertisers. It is also a major setback to privacy groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which were staunch supporters of the Federal Communications Commission when it sought to protect the users from being preyed upon by ISPs.

Similarly, Verizon said in a statement: "Verizon does not sell the personal web browsing history of our customers".

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The arguments by the Republicans do not seem to make complete sense as Internet providers are responsible for delivery of data while Facebook and Google are companies with different services for the customers. In the House, 15 Republicans broke rank to vote against the resolution, but it still passed 215-205. "The recent action by Congress to suspend FCC rules means that internet providers can save and sell your online activity, including financial and medical health information, to the highest bidder". They stressed they don't sell individual browsing information, do not have plans to do so, and have committed to principles that they say protect their customers' privacy online.

The rules passed past year, by what was then a Democratic majority on the FCC, would have required ISPs to ask you explicitly to "opt in" to letting them share personal information.

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, however, says the move reverses "privacy regulations created to benefit one group of favored companies over another group of disfavored companies". Companies that provide internet service will have access to the public's private information and can use it to their own advantage.

But Trump signed the bill.

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